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March 31, 2008

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.08.10. Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, March 14, 2008.

The FAC met at Eastern Illinois University.  Provost Blair Lord welcomed the group.  He briefly traced the evolution of EIU since its 1899 founding as a Normal School and noted over 1/3rd of the students are still involved in teacher preparation. Half of the enrollment comes from north of I-80. Of over 12,000 students, 1900 are in graduate programs. The University is focusing on getting more undergraduates doing research and scholarship, increasing service learning, expanding the study abroad  and honors programs and giving greater emphasis to the fine arts with one new art building opened (Tarble Arts Center)and another opening this fall after a $65M retrofit.

He sees the key issue for higher education is the need for greater state funding.  “There is no doubt the "publicness" of higher education is eroding: in Illinois probably more than any other state.”  A major concern is that there has been no public discussion of this movement to privatize public higher education, a trend he sees as continuing in Illinois.  He believes the legislature may have been a little more assertive in its support of higher education recently: none of the higher education committee in the House believes higher education has been adequately supported of late.  With regard to the IBHE higher education planning process, access and affordability will be major concerns.  There is a great disparity in access:  some of it is preparation, some economic, some geographic.  Our younger age cohort is about 10th in the world in education attainment as contrasted to being first in the older generations.  This is a great threat to the future of this country.

Jill Nelson, EIU Vice-President for External Relations, spent the majority of her time talking about the efforts of the Higher Education Legislative Coalition (HELC) which has enjoyed major support from EIU. She stressed it is incredibly difficult to be heard in Springfield.  One part of the problem is the legislators do not hear an uproar when they cut higher education budgets.  Various suggestions for enhancing the impact of the HELC were discussed by the FAC.

The remainder of the session was spent reviewing the text and slides for the FAC’s presentation to the April 1 BHE meeting.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative