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December 8, 2008

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.09.04. Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, November 7, 2008.

The FAC met at Sauk Valley Community College.  Donald Pearl, Academic Vice President, in welcoming the group stressed the economic impact of the college on the area and its ability to serve place-bound students. Of approximately 5,600 students, 66% are full–time. Some 50% of the students work ; the average age declining slightly recently.  Given the large geographical area served, it is more economical for many students to live on campus. A private group built and operates a campus dormitory. The campus is located on the north bank of the Rock River on a 44 acre site some 6 miles from Dixon.  The college dropped “redman” as a mascot and moved to a mythical “redbird.”  A current controversy is a large array of African animal heads donated by a big game hunter that are displayed along the corridor.  These will be transferred to the local park district.

News from the IBHE includes the “roll-out” of the American Diploma Project. Illinois is the 34th state to join the project.  The focus is on improved articulation between high schools and colleges.  The project seeks to align high school graduation standards and assessments with student needs post high school, whether college or jobs.  Emphases include more rigorous courses, a testing system linked to college entrance and to jobs, and holding schools responsible for the education provided.  Although this project stresses linkages from elementary through graduate school (P-20) the Illinois P-20 project remains unfunded.

The Public Agenda Task Force draft report was discussed with a number of concerns raised. The goal of increased affordability of an education is stressed but not the necessity of state funding to achieve that goal.  If tuition increases are limited, colleges lose one of the few means to ensure a quality degree when the legislature defaults on funding.  Another concern is that while businesses may stress training to fill immediate job slots that may not link to long-term career viability or meet the longer term needs of business in a changing economy.  Educators may understand what business needs better than business itself does.   

The non-FAC Dual Credit Task Force is to report in December.  The FAC is concerned that many of the regulations for dual credit are not being followed consistently. The quality of courses is inconsistent and more stringent guidelines are needed.

Another FAC concern is the loss of full-time tenure track faculty given the growth in student numbers.  A prior FAC report on the used of part-time faculty needs to be updated.
The FAC is rebuilding its committee structure.  To date these include Legislative Affairs and Budget, Teacher Preparation, Quality Issues in Higher Education and Internal Affairs.  Committee sessions were followed by brief reports on the discussions to the entire FAC, approval of the minutes, and resolutions of appreciation to the host institution and to Ken Andersen for his 8+ years of service.

IBHE meeting dates are December 9, January 27, April 7 (joint with the FAC), June 2, August 11, October 6 and December 8.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate Alternate FAC Representative