September 25, 2006
University of Illinois
HE.07.01 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, September 8, 2006.
The FAC met at Lewis and Clark Community College in Alton. President Dale Chapman said the College, established in 1970, assumed the building, grounds and staff of Monticello College, the second oldest women’s college in the nation. The campus has a number of historic buildings, modern sculptures, extensive gardens and landscaping. It enrolls 12,000 students a semester, 8,000 taking college credit courses and serves a 7 county area through the main and branch campuses. It is involved in research through the Great Rivers Project which links it some UIUC units.
State Senator Bill Haine and Representatives Dan Beiser and Jim Watson met with the FAC. While all said they strongly favor greater funding for higher education, Beiser particularly stressing the need for funding for deferred maintenance and new buildings, the public is not in favor of a tax increase. The ground for such action has not been prepared and we lack leadership by the governor and legislative leaders. Haine said most legislators are concerned about maintaining Illinois in the top tier of flagship universities. Watson urged that the legislature fully fund the Veterans Tuition Fund rather than placing that burden on universities to cover the shortfall.
Questioned about the possibility of any action in the fall veto session, the response was that it depends on the election outcome. If the pattern of the last two years continues nothing will happen because the governor is not reaching out to legislators. Citizens have not been shown a tax increase is needed. The governor needs to make that case. Cynicism about Springfield and the government based on broken promises and ethical violations means people don’t want to give Springfield more money. Opposition to HB/SB750 which raises income taxes and lowers property taxes is based on lack of protection against future property tax increases, failure to solve the structural deficit and not meeting states needs other than K-12 education. We must address the pension problem and meet future obligations. All agreed higher tuitions mean affordability of higher education is a key problem. A clear demonstration of how tax change will benefit all citizens is essential and a clarification of where and why money is being spent is necessary. Haine said that the leaders at the universities and of faculty must step forward and educate/pressure legislators with information and provide some leadership on these issues. Watson urged that legislators be invited to campuses other than those in their home districts. We need to address the justified cynicism of voters.
The balance of the morning was spent discussing revision of a proposal to increase requirements for certification of K-12 teachers by strengthening content preparation, strengthening the liberal arts base, enhancing the quality of classes in pedagogical methods and enhancing the student teaching experience. BHE’s interest in improving the leadership in the schools by principals was noted.
A draft by the BHE staff on the issue of textbook rental programs was distributed with a call for FAC responses to stress what faculty and institutions could do to alleviate the textbook cost concerns by means other than textbook rental programs. While FAC agreed textbook rental programs can work at a certain level and to a certain degree, there are a number of associated problems including initial costs. Faculty are being blamed for a problem that is not largely of their making.
The BHE continues its strategic planning effort with a focus on that by senior staff and the BHE at its October meeting. The Executive Director believes the BHE should become more proactive and less reactive. HECA grants are now being reviewed by BHE staff as they are submitted with much greater attention being given to priorities established by the BHE rather than to continuation of previous grants.
In addition to electing a new secretary, the year’s executive committee and various business items, the FAC discussed issues to be addressed this year. Among suggestions are student debt, the Spelling Report, quality of life issues and life long learning, dual credit concerns, and the findings of the Measuring Up 2006 report that gave Illinois—and almost every other state—a failing grade of F in affordability.
The meeting adjourned at 2:10 p.m. followed by brief committee meetings.
UIUC Senate FAC Representative