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March 26, 2007

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.07.09 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, February 23, 2007.

The FAC met at the St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing in Peoria.  Dean Lois Hamilton welcomed the FAC noting they have a single focus: educating nurses at both the entry level and in specialized areas.  Students transfer to the college for their last two years.  Nursing enrollments are up nation-wide and applicants are turned away.

The FAC met with Sue Kaufman, UPI president and vice-president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and Meredith Byers of the IEA.  Legislators complain they get competing views on higher education needs and priorities.  To resolve this problem a Higher Education Legislative Coalition has been formed to bring people together from labor unions, AAUP, SEIU, AFSCME, SUAA, college presidents, etc.  A major focus is getting a large turnout including students in Springfield on the April 25 lobby day. “All things are political, especially in Illinois,” Kaufman stressed.  They discussed various alternative approaches to funding the state’s needs including the governor’s approach of a gross receipts tax and revised HB/SB 750.  A major concern is that nothing will be agreed upon and everyone can walk away and say, “I tried.”  The Coalition will stress that something must happen to address educational needs. There is concern about deriving a motto or statement that will define higher education and give it a public “face.” The FAC suggested possible approaches including contacting people who have worked in such efforts such as former U of I President Stanley Ikenberry.

Reporting on BHE activity Gary Alexander noted that the BHE approved a low-key budget after extensive negotiation with the governor and his budget people.  He stressed the urgency of many more voices pressing the governor on the needs of higher education. IBHE budget recommendations are available on its website. The BHE filed its report on textbook rentals so that task is concluded for now.  Legislation on textbook costs has been introduced in the legislature but a mandated rental system is not among them.

Alexander transmitted a letter from a NIU group responding to the FAC’s paper on improving teacher quality.  The FAC is responding that it hoped to initiative a wide-ranging discussion of the issue and looks forward to that and hopes mechanisms can be found to provide such interaction.

The FAC will attend the March 27 BHE meeting in Springfield and meet with the BHE for lunch and a discussion. The scheduled FAC meeting in March was cancelled.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative