Meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee
September 11, 1998. - Aurora University, Aurora, IL
After a welcome by the President and Provost of Aurora University, the morning session was devoted to a panel discussion of the draft IBHE staff document, "Education for the 21st Century: A Citizens' Agenda for Higher Education." The afternoon Business Meeting focused on further discussion of the Citizens' Agenda draft, the approval of the statement on evaluation of academic administrators, a discussion of a draft statement on the Assessment of Tenured Faculty, and the establishment of Advisory Committee working sub-committees for the year.
UIUC faculty, students, and staff are invited to submit comments on the draft Citizens' Agenda to Terry L. Weech, UIUC IBHE/FAC representative via e-mail at email@example.com.
(A copy of the draft of the Citizens' Agenda is available at: <http://www.uiuc.edu/orgs/ibhefac/citagenda.htm> and is also linked from the IBHE/FAC web page.) The web page for the Faculty Advisory Committee is now available at <http://www.uiuc.edu/orgs/ibhefac>
The panel discussing the "Citizens' Agenda..." consisted of Kathleen Kelly, Illinois Board of Higher Education staff, Walter McMahon, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, Dan Lewis, Northwestern University, and Karen Becker, Richland Community College.
Kathleen Kelly provided background on the development of the draft of the Citizens' Agenda. She indicated that the goal was to provide a student centered rather than an institution centered approach to the higher education in Illinois. She also noted that the emphasis is on accountability based on outcomes rather than input and is built on surveys and focus groups of citizens and students to determine their perceptions of higher education in Illinois. She did invite the Faculty Advisory Committee to provide feedback on the draft.
Walter McMahon distributed handouts relating to his study measuring the social benefits of higher education. He noted that higher education provides a very good return in terms of social benefits to society, including, but not limited to, economic variables such as income. He also presented graphs on various non-market indicators, such as political stability human rights, and life expectancy. In terms of comments on the Citizens' Agenda, McMahon noted that the role of research seemed to be left out. This point was seconded by many of those present. He also suggested that the section on productivity needed to be expanded and more attention paid to internal efficiency of administration and support aspects of higher education budgets. There was discussion of McMahon's presentation, with most supporting his comments on the Citizens' agenda. Some, however, while recognizing the contribution his research was making to the discussion, expressed concern that many of the benefits of higher education could not be quantified and that a focus on quantitative measures might work to the detriment of higher education in the future. McMahon suggested that the Citizens' Agenda might be revised to address more explicitly the non-market aspects of return on investments in higher education.
Dan Lewis was the most outspoken in his critique of the Citizens' Agenda. He characterized the Agenda as an ideological document that was developed to "shock" Illinois into action. He suggested that the document recalled the policies of political conservatives such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, using market metaphors in the guise of a "Citizens' Analysis" to overcome liberal resistance to programs such as tuition vouchers for private schools. In the final analysis, he expressed the belief that the Citizens' Agenda is doomed to failure in Illinois because Illinois politics operates differently from politics in California or Great Britain. He asserted that government and politics in Illinois is not from the top down, but from the bottom up and thus tends not to be based on ideology. Suggesting that the Citizens' Agenda was attempting to pit the Citizen/Taxpayer against government bureaucracy, Lewis proclaimed that this form of "pseudo-Marxism" will fail in Illinois. While recognizing that there may be some initial support from business interests, ultimately it will not play in Peoria any more than it played in Birmingham, England.
Karen Becker spoke to the 2-year community college response to the Citizens' Agenda draft. She expressed concern that educators seemed to have been left out of the process. She noted that how we pay instructors may be important as we become more involved with continuing education courses and distance education. The need to assess the quality of distance education delivered by the Internet is also an issue that needs attention.
The discussion that followed the panel discussions was lively. There was an expressed need to insure quality of delivery of higher education in Illinois. Concerns were raised regarding whether higher education should be concerned with job training (which seemed to be the thrust of the draft Citizens' Agenda) or with education of the whole person. Job training does not necessarily result in developing the ability to think critically, but critical thinking skills may be very important to the future of the state and the nation. Education, not job training, may be the answer to developing these and other skills that will be required in the future. The need to respond to the IBHE with constructive comments on how the Citizens' Agenda might be revised was discussed, as was the necessity to incorporate the role of research and the need to recognize that institutions of higher education have missions that go beyond training for specific jobs.
Action: The statement on evaluation of academic administrators was approved and will be sent to the IBHE.
Discussion: The draft statement on the Assessment of Tenured Faculty was discussed. Further revision will be undertaken and a revised draft will be posted on the IBHE/FAC web page (For latest version, see: <http://www.uiuc.edu/orgs/ibhefac/ibhetenure2.htm>).
After discussing possible sub-committees that might be formed this year, the following sub-committees were established:
Increasing Educational Attainment
Submitted by Terry L. Weech, UIUC Representative to the IBHE/FAC, 10/12/98.