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September 25, 2006

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.06.14. Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, June 6, 2006.

The BHE met at Morton College in Cicero. Actions specific to the UIUC campus:

Chair Kaplan expressed appreciation for a “fair budget” to the governor and legislators. He noted he had spoken at the UIC honors convocation. The welcome to Morton College noted that 74% of the students and 50% of the administration are Latino.

Kati Haycock, Director of the Education Trust, made an hour plus presentation.  She stressed that while some progress had been made in elementary education we are behind in our high schools and the rate of decline is increasing compared to other developed nations.  Internationally we rank 24 of 29th in math and low in English. When entering high school 29% are below the basic level versus 29% well prepared. Students who arrive behind fall further behind in high school. We have huge gaps among schools in funding. Race and economic status matters.  We lack demands for rigor and quality in our classrooms and have no plan to do better. She noted specific cases that show students who were behind are able to catch up. Money matters but the quality of teachers is the key to student improvement.  We must push students to achieve and we are learning that a demanding college prep program is best for all students whether or not they go to college.  She stressed we need data on students K-16; research on what constitutes good teaching; a focus on teachers on teaching in poor and minority schools and to ensure such schools get strong teachers.  Must stress success in education, not just access. Her data and presentation are available at

BHE Executive Director Erwin noted several groups are at work on various issues. Charlie Evans (U of I) is chairing a task force on shared data collection.  Textbook costs and possible book rental programs are a major legislative concern with a group working on this heading by BHE staffer Mike Baumgartner while Gary Alexander is working on issues in helping poor and minority students.

In the reports of various advisory groups, the student group stressed their opposition to the sale of the student loan funds. Most expressed appreciation for the small budget improvement.

In approving several new programs at community colleges and particularly at independent institutions, the Board demonstrated a concern for “students as consumers” protection.

The Governor has signed the higher education budget with most of the increase in funds going to pension costs and student aid.  There is no timetable for action with regard to the possible sale of the student loan fund although some decision needs to be made in the near term. 

A report on minority student enrollment and faculty participation indicated an increase in minority enrollment in higher education from 24% to 28% in the last decade.  Hispanic enrollments gained 64% vs. black enrollment at 20%. Hispanic faculty rose 65% and black faculty 22%.  The gap in salary between full-time faculty men and women in Illinois public colleges widened by $300 since 2001 while the differential narrowed by $800 in community colleges.  Minority students continue to lag behind others in retention and graduation rates.  Efforts continue to improve college participation of minorities, women and individuals with disabilities.

The review of the legislative session was brief with a focus on four key issues for legislators: Community college baccalaureate completion will continue as an issue.  We “must address the need for more B.A.’s or the legislature will do it for us.” Second, energy conservation/costs.  There will be a BHE symposium on this in late June. Third, textbook costs are of increasing importance to students and legislators. Finally, a concern for better data on students as they move thru the educational system, including transfers among institution and information on degree completion.

The next meeting is August 15 at the Professional School of Psychology in Chicago.

Ken Andersen
FAC to the IBHE Representative