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November 3, 2008

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.09.03. Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, October 10, 2008.

The FAC met at Morton College with a welcome from the newly appointed President, Leslie Navarro. The group had time to tour the Hawthorne Works Museum featuring items made at the Western Electric Plant in Cicero with particular emphasis on telephones, early switchboards, and appliances.

The morning was spent discussing issues relative to community colleges with a presentation by Gary Davis, UIS adjunct faculty member, consultant to the Assoc. of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. 

Among the items discussed was a “mission drift” from a focus on students unable to attend a four-year college to much more traditional college-ready students likely to complete and who use the community college as a stepping stone to a four-year institution.  Increasingly there is less interest in teaching remedial courses and technical and non-degree courses.  Community colleges now offer baccalaureate degrees in 14 states.  This has not only implications for staffing but also desired amenities such as sports teams, recreation facilities, etc.

Growth in the use of adjuncts is a concern:  Adjuncts are increasing while full-time faculty numbers are decreasing.  (True at 4-year institutions as well.)  Minorities (excluding Asian) are increasingly less well educated than their parents which may be one impact of mission drift.

Other issues are that community college students are less likely to complete a 4-year degree (the community college penalty) than those who begin at a 4-year institution.  The public (and faculty) are concerned that high school graduates are not prepared to undertake work at the college level raising the issue of whether we need a coordinated governance system for all of education such as the P-20 initiative. Also, community colleges, initially fairly well supported by the state, are now gravely underfunded—particularly in areas with a poor property tax base. And state support is likely to deteriorate even further.

IBHE liaison Ocheng said work continues on the public agenda for higher education with revisions to the draft report continuing and with public hearings to be held across the state later in October.  The search for a new Associate Director for Academic Affairs and Student Success is completed but the appointment has not been announced. (Note the addition of Student Success to the title.)

The afternoon business meeting was largely focused on organization of the FAC for the year. The BHE budget planning process is underway and a standing committee on Legislative Affairs and Budgeting was formed. The need to be more responsive to BHE issues as they develop was stressed.  The issue of “dual credit” for high school and college courses and the failure to enforce existing rules is an important issue for the FAC to address. Textbook costs continue to be a major concern of the BHE Student Advisory Group.  A very preliminary proposal to develop a “preferred provider program” with in-state public 4-year institutions offering baccalaureate completion programs at community colleges has originated at SIU.

A press release stressing that the Illinois pension systems are assuring retirees of the stability of their benefits was distributed. 

The meeting ran overtime and the group noted a need to consider extending the time for meetings.  The FAC adjourned at 2:50 p.m. with thanks to the host institution.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate Alternate FAC Representative