Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

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October 1, 2007

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.07.14 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, June 5, 2007.

Items specific to UIUC: Approval of School of Earth, Society, and Environment;School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics; the Technology Center; and B.S. in LAS in Earth System, Environment and Society.  Grants to some UIUC students as part of the Diversity High Education Faculty in Illinois program.

The BHE met at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. Chair Carrie Hightman announced Terry Nunn would assume a new position dealing with diversity and outreach.  A joint resolution pending in the House and Senate proposes that the IBHE develop a master plan for higher education.  There are concerns about campus safety and student loans and lender practices.  The October meeting will be at SIU-C with the August meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago.  Among other changes being made, there will no longer be a consent agenda—all items will be action or information items.

Don McNeil of ISAC said Attorney General Madigan is looking at student lending practices within the state.  An agreement has been reached with DeVry on lending practices.  ISAC will not make future loans to students attending schools outside Illinois.

The Faculty Advisory Council report stressed concern about rising student debt caused by significant increases in tuition and fees and expressed great concern over the failure of the public to understand the cost of not funding higher education. The FAC is developing a statement on student mental health concerns.  The community college representative expressed concerns over the budget, i.e. the lack of one.

Dr. David Spence, President of the Southern Regional Education Board, made an extended presentation on the relationship of K-12 to higher education. He said the key issue is that the high school graduation rate is a disaster—30-35% of students fail to complete high school in an era when they must have post-secondary education for a viable economic future.  Many who graduate are not ready to do work at the college level.  Every state needs to ensure appropriate competency in reading comprehension, writing and communication skills and mathematics.   Of students at Cal State, 65% needed help in either math or reading.  There is a huge problem in reading readiness and most states don’t know it.  New high school courses in expository reading and writing are needed together with new tests. Students and teachers both need to know the standards they should meet. We need to focus on professional development for teachers.

Mark Pruitt of the Energy Resources Center at UIC addressed several issues of the increased cost of energy.  He said no one cares about energy, only about the money it costs. Thus, administrators have not focused on energy costs or possible savings in energy costs.  They focus on building buildings and programs but neglect the fact that this means more energy costs.  Costs have risen dramatically in the last year and need to be addressed. This means finding savings in procurement and usage, investing to obtain energy efficiency, and finding a means to ease the risk of unanticipated energy costs.  In his view energy must be seen as a BHE a priority.

Don Sevener made the legislative report.  He noted the great disappointment of many including legislators about a session that started with high hopes of addressing Illinois’ fiscal problems. Most see the session as a “dysfunctional process” resulting in pessimism and despair.  Opportunities were not just lost, they were squandered.  At the moment there is no budget, no capital program, no increase in scholarship funds.  However, there may be grounds for optimism in the extended session.  Some productive relationships have been established with legislators that bode well for the future.  An agenda for higher ed has been created that future sessions can build upon. The concept of P-20 is gaining in impact as evidenced by the probable passage of HB 1648 to create a P-20 Council. Bills related to textbook costs and the Harper community college proposal to establish a baccalaureate degree will not pass.

Ken Andersen
FAC to the IBHE Representative