Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

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March 27, 2006

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.06.09 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, February 24, 2006.

The FAC met at UIC.  Gary Alexander, BHE staff liaison to the FAC, discussed issues being addressed by the BHE.  The process for HECA grants is under review with a focus on soliciting proposals that match state priorities.  Among the concerns are the need for funding potential faculty in nursing, a concern about the higher turnover rate in nursing faculty and health care for underserved areas. There is a growing, urgent need to focus on P-20 rather then K-16.  Executive Director Erwin is particularly interested in this area and shifting to a focus on life-long learning, not just the completion of the baccalaureate. This ties to her concern about the need for better data on who attends, drops out, re-enrolls, completes degrees, etc. She is pushing for an integrated data system across all of education.  This links to issues of accountability and transparency.  A further concern is aligning high school requirements with college entrance requirements.  The various elements in the education system need to communicate more effectively.

Life long learning issues need greater attention.  How might we use emeritus faculty?  How do we define life-long learning: is it more than new job skills and retooling?  How provide access to people coming to the education system at different points in time? How focus on quality of life issues?

There is an effort to restate the Joint Education Committee.  The issue of a “super board” for all of education is “not on the table” currently.  But collaboration and better communication are needed.  Current issues include transfer from communication colleges, affordability, technology issues including costs and relationships of two and four year institutions.

Issues such as diversification of faculty, accountability, transparency of institutional practices, workforce development and economic development remain concerns.  There is a big push for dual credit for high school and college credit courses.  The appropriate balance of full-time and adjunct faculty is a concern.

Three themes are emerging in BHE staff discussions: data sharing and integration, interagency cooperation, and baccalaureate completion.  Further, we need to align resources with society’s needs and ensure the public understands the value of higher education.

Sylvia Manning, UIUC Chancellor, welcomed the group and discussed three important issues.  She is concerned that the Supreme Court did not hear the Governor’s State case concerning censoring of a student newspaper. No one can censor blogs so why censor student newspapers.  We want our students to have an independent voice. A second concern is the SIU case that weakens support for minority students and summer preparation programs. The Michigan admission decision is “spilling over.” Finally she is concerned about the focus on national testing and the work of the Spelling Commission.  She believes only the faculty speaking out can deal with this problem area.

She concluded by stressing that the only people who can fix higher education are us. Outsiders cannot do it. We need to accept the idea of doing better; nobody believes that we can’t do better.  Harvard demonstrates that the faculty are still in charge, the heart of institutions is the faculty.  Boards and presidents can’t just mandate change and get it. People are angry because higher education is so essential and they are being priced out of it.  What we are seeing is an unwillingness to pay for higher education. Public understands the need to fund elementary and secondary but believe higher education is being wasteful. She noted the national campaign headed by Stan Ikenberry is needed.  She wishes students were far more active on budget issues. In the need to attract students, administrators don’t want to say that they have lost ground, that educational quality has suffered, so they settle for “threat language” about future potential impact.

A new set of committees was created by the chair and asked to develop possible projects. After lunch, the group adopted a set of materials describing the nature and function of the FAC for future members.  The remainder of the day was spend in occasionally heated discussion and significant disagreement among members about adopting a reworked series of 8 “theses” about the needs of higher education in Illinois and the causes for the failure to provide needed support to higher education. Ultimately on a divided vote (all three U of I campus representatives voted no) the eight theses were adopted subject to revision of some wording.  Simultaneously, a revision that cast the statement into 4 “theses” was adopted with a nearly unanimous vote.  The time for making the documents public, the mechanism, and by whom was not decided.

The meeting adjourned shortly after the normal 2:30 p.m. time.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative