February 25, 2008
University of Illinois
HE.08.07 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, January 18, 2008.
The FAC met in Chicago at Harold Washington College. President Wozniak welcomed the group by noting the importance of the resolution of the transit funding crisis to the College. For $90 a semester a student gets a 24/7 transit pass and many students utilize mass transit. Many students have with dual enrollments at other loop institutions, which among its various institutions have a total of 57,000 students, not including UIC, the top choice in transfers to a 4-year college. While Harold Washington lacks many features, it profits from the multiplicity of cultural opportunities in Chicago.
BHE liaison Rick Pearce reported that Gray Alexander, the previous liaison, is moving to become an Academic Vice President for the Kansas Board of Higher Education. Information on the higher ed budget to be forwarded to campuses on January 25 has been embargoed with no information available. Preliminary steps on the master planning project for higher education have begun but the governor has not yet made the appointments. This will be too large a group to be effective so they will need a good deal of input to facilitate their work. The FAC chair is a member. The legislatively authorized but unfunded P-20 Council has not met. The BHE plans to implement a process for electronic submission of program approval requests by April, which should significantly speed up the approval process. Finally, it is establishing a process whereby a transfer student with 30 hours of transferred credit can either opt to complete general education requirements as established by that institution or the remaining courses for general education established under the Illinois Articulation Agreement.
Senator Dan Kotowski of the 33rd district, a UIUC graduate, met with the group. He said the greatest problem for Springfield is the need to establish credibility. The state is five months behind in paying some bills, we have a $41B pension shortfall, and we need a progressive tax system. We need greater emphasis on ethics and not give contracts to non-performers who make campaign contributions. While stressing the need for a capital bill, he noted the governor’s power to not release funds appropriated by the legislature. A capital bill would provide funds for the 4-year publics, the community colleges, and private institutions. We need to work to build coalitions in support of education at all levels. The veto session next fall may provide an opportunity to address the tax issue given some will retire from the legislature and others can offer a basis for voting for the increase. Many people want something but do not accept that it has to be paid for by some revenue source.
He supports the effort of Harper College to offer two bachelor’s degrees, one in information technology and one in homeland security based on principles of accessibility, affordability and relevance.
The afternoon was given over to a presentation by Cecilia Lopez, Vice President at Harold Washington, focused on assessment with particular reference to the efforts by the Department of Education via the Spellings Report to force universal nationwide testing of undergraduate higher education on the grounds that we cannot compare the quality of individual institutions without such data. She was particularly concerned about a provision in the House Resolution 4137 in the U.S. Congress that would eliminate institutional discretion in setting student achievement standards and learning outcomes. It is the faculty at the individual institutions who should be setting standards and determining desired learning outcomes. She is concerned about a direct thereat to academic freedom. She concluded by urging individual faculty to take the issue of assessment seriously as it will not go away and to use assessment to improve their teaching and student learning.
UIUC Senate FAC Representative