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March 26, 2007

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.07.08 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, February 6, 2007.*

Items specific to UIUC: Approval of the European Union Center. President White was congratulated for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Excellence in Leadership Award.  Board member and U of I Trustee Frances Carroll reported her findings on the UIUC “Tacos and Tequila” party.  While supportive of campus efforts, she noted the existence of “overt racism” on campus, the value of cultural houses as places of  “safety,” the need for a climate study and the need to continue efforts to broaden the “European/American” perspective of many faculty.

The BHE met at the Springfield Hilton. Chair James Kaplan announced he was stepping down after serving as chair since 2003 and board member since 1999. In addition, two other board members are leaving the board: Dea Meyer and Steve Taslitz.  The Governor appointed Carrie Hightman as the new chair.  A University of Illinois graduate, she has not served previously on the board. She presided at the February 22 session that approved the BHE’s FY’08 Budget Recommendations.  Hightman has a law degree from Florida State University and worked in telecommunications and public utility regulation. President of AT&T Illinois 2001-06, she has been active in various professional organizations and served on boards of a number of civic and charitable organizations including the Lyric Opera.

Dave Tretter on behalf of the Private College and University Advisory Committee objected to an out-of –state institution offering a program that an in-state college could provide and said that independent colleges and universities employ many people, and that could be threatened by out-of-state institutions offering the programs.

Robert Sheets, Policy Advisor in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, stressed the need for more effective P-16 partnerships to increase innovation in Illinois.  He said 1/3rd of Illinois citizens have insufficient skills to participate meaningfully in the workforce.

IBHE staff member Gary Alexander’s presentation on program reviews evoked a question on the number of programs eliminated among those reviewed.  Given the answer of only 1 of more than 250, some board members were concerned since they seem to believe that by eliminating programs you cut faculty.

The report on textbook rental noted the prohibitively high cost of such a program, $313M.  There continues to be concern that faculty are benefiting from assigning their own books and are not concerned about textbook expenditures. (Comment:  textbook costs for students will continue to be an issue.)  

Don Sevener, IBHE staff, noted six issues on the minds of legislators: affordability, textbook costs, baccalaureate completion, remedial education, veterans’ grants, and teacher and leadership preparation.

In a teleconference meeting of February 22 conducted by the new chair Carrie Hightman the board adopted its budget recommendations. The board’s priorities were improving affordability, enhancing faculty and staff salaries, addressing workforce priorities with clear performance expectations, student pipeline issues, and protecting the investment in facilities.  They recommended a 2.1% increase from General Revenue Funds.  Increases included $7.3M for MAP, $19.8M (1.5%) for faculty and staff salaries and general operating costs.  Capital improvements totaled $607.7M  ($1.8B requested) with $50M for renewal projects and $364.5M for 32 projects including 7 new ones.  Lincoln Hall is high on the list. These recommendations preceded the governor’s budget announcement and will be subject to action by the legislature. 

Ken Andersen
FAC to the IBHE Representative