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September 25, 2006

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.06.13 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, May 19, 2006.

Three important issues received attention: tracking students as they move through the system, textbook costs and advice to the IBHE during its strategic planning efforts.  See paragraphs 4th, 6th and 8th paragraphs below.

The FAC met at Judson College in Elgin. Dr. LeAnn Pauley-Heard, Vice President for Student Development, noted the College has about 800 traditional students and 400 adult students. The adult program is so successful a new building will soon be opened in Rockford to serve that population. The College is linked to the American Baptist Association and sees itself as an evangelical college with extensive community involvement of students and work abroad building public facilities, etc.  There is a focus on enabling adults to complete undergraduate degrees, providing a certificate program for people holding degrees who wish to become teachers and developing master’s programs in a limited number of areas.

Judy Erwin, Executive Director of the BHE, met with the FAC for 75 minutes.  In reviewing the legislative session she noted the Governor resisted the BHE establishing a budget in advance of his budget message.  Chair Kaplan was committed to a 2% increase for higher ed and the final amount was close to that thanks to some effective assistance from university presidents. She noted the Governor’s proposed program of $1,000 tuition tax credit was not popular and became a grant program called MAP+ with funding for one year based on selling a portion of the student loan program. If this does not happen--the timetable is very short and the idea very controversial--the program will not come into being.  There is no funding source provided for future years. The reduction factor on maximum grants from ISAC will be 7% next year rather than 9%.

The issue of tracing students as they move though the education system is a very difficult one.  Legislators are demanding the data and we do not have it. We know Chicago public schools graduate only about 50% of their students. Some other states—she cited Indiana—have good tracking systems.  We need a P-20 integrated data system with students assigned a unique number (not social security number) when they first enter the public education system in Illinois.

The Joint Education Committee has been reestablished to focus on K-20 issues.  One concern is that Illinois does a “terrible job” on life-long learning. Erwin stressed the need to focus on what is unique and different among the institutions of higher education rather than assume all are alike. Further, she said the legislators listened to the unions—“no doubt about it.  That is who the legislators think about when they say faculty.”  (When challenged about the importance of that point for institutions such as the U of I without a unionized faculty, she said they do listen to others as well.)

The issue of textbook costs will not go away. Senate Resolution 0692 calls for a study of the cost and feasibility of textbook rental programs at public colleges by January 15, 2007. It was amended to include a provision for studying the impact on those affected including entities that operate bookstores.  The FAC was asked to provide advice on the issue.

Accountability remains a huge issue.  Legislators and the public want data demonstrating the level of student achievement.

Erwin wants to use the FAC to provide advice. She will meet with the FAC in September.  In the interim she asked the FAC to provide input to the ongoing strategic planning of the BHE office.  She asked for responses by next month to three questions directed to FAC members:

·        What are you deeply passionate about for the IBHE?

·        What can the IBHE be best at—what can it do better than any other state agency?

·        Who are the IBHE stakeholders and what value do they see in the IBHE?

When asked for her impressions of what Illinois higher education does well, Erwin stressed its support of need-based student aid and providing access to different types of schools.  On the negative side she said we do not do a good job serving students most at risk, on life-long learning, and connecting to K-12.

The remainder of the day was devoted to committee meetings to plan for next year (we have one more meeting in June) and the business meeting in which resolutions on online learning and integrating technology into courses were adopted.  They stressed the value of increased access and enhanced learning while suggesting the need for assurances of quality.

The meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m. with a resolution thanking out-going chair Wayne Evens for his service.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative