Meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee November 6, 1998
University of Illinois - Springfield
We were welcomed by the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Springfield, Naomi Lynn. The morning session was devoted to a discussion of the IBHE Report on establishing a University Center in Lake County ("Identifying and Responding to the Educational Needs in Lake County.") Contents and introduction to the Report is available at http://ibhe.state.il.us/lakecounty.htm. A panel consisting of Doug Day, IBHE Staff, Irv Roth, Chicago State University, Leslie Tischauser, Prairie State College, and Richard Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago, presented their reactions to the report. The Faculty Advisory Committee Business Meeting was held in the afternoon. The focus of the business meeting was the discussion of various subcommittee reports on the Citizens' Agenda draft.
The proposal for establishing a multi-university center in Lake County, Illinois, was discussed by a panel of four as noted in the synopsis. Doug Day provided the background on the proposed center, noting that it was to coordinate and articulate the courses and programs from the twelve institutions, which have responded to the request for proposals for participation. The public institutions that responded are UIC, UIUC, SIUC, Governors State, Northeastern, and Northern Illinois University. The private institutions included are Aurora University, Concordia, Barat, Dominican, St. Xavier, and Columbia. It was noted that this is a preliminary list of participants based on the initial response to the request for proposals. The goal of the proposed University Center is to provide place-bound students in Lake County access to courses from these institutions of higher education both electronically and in classrooms. The classrooms will be provided in the proposed facility to be built in Lake County which would be funded by the State and by the County. Priority programs would include Business Administration, Information Systems, and Teacher Education. Students may be able to mix and match courses from several of the participating institutions but would select the institution from which they wished to receive their degree. The participating institutions, not the Center, would grant degrees.
Irvin Roth, Chicago State University, provided an overview of the employment trends and future projections in Illinois and how the proposed Lake County University Center might be impacted. There is an indication that more highly trained people will be needed with advanced technical skills He suggested that the proposed Center should take this projection into consideration when determining programs to offer. Since the Center plans to offer a mix of onsite and electronically delivered courses, the question of competition from other online programs might impact the success of the Center. Commenting that since online degree programs have only recently offered, the question remains as to whether online degree programs will recover expenses. The following questions were also raised: "Who owns the courses, the University or the instructor who develops them?" "What level of quality will prevail?" "What is the nature of faculty compensation?" He referred to a recent AAUP statement which raised concerns about instruction, academic freedom, and faculty compensation in such distance and extension courses and programs.
Leslie Tischauser from Prairie State College discussed a survey of student preferences in Lake County. It was predicted that some full-time day students would transfer from other schools to the Lake County Center when they find courses at the Center cost less because of generally lower tuition at state schools. Most students list cost as a significant barrier to higher education. He also cited prior research that suggested that drop out rates would be high, running in the 25% to 30% area at a cooperative center such as the one being proposed for Lake County.
Richard Johnson from UIC expressed concern that the State was attempting to establish a "7/11 Convenience store" type of higher education in a facility such as the Lake County University Center. He suggested that some might perceive of the proposal as more of a "real estate development" than a true university center. Johnson raised questions about the governing board of the Center and the role of faculty in the governing process. He also expressed concern about resources, such as library materials. He concluded by suggesting that the proposed Center might be seen as a political response rather than an educational response and that alternative models for delivering higher education to Lake County might be considered before establishing an expensive facility to serve one county.
The discussion after the panel presentations focused on the issues of governance and the role of faculty in governing the Center, alternatives to the proposal, and ways the proposal might be modified to reflect faculty concerns. Some felt it would be more appropriate to actually establish a university in Lake County than the proposed University Center. Others suggested that with the emphasis on electronic delivery of programs, the building of a physical facility for classrooms seemed out synch with the trends toward internet based delivery of programs. Still others expressed concern that students would be drawn away from other institutions. It was observed that the program that Western Illinois University in Macomb has in the Quad Cities area has resulted in some classes being cancelled on the Macomb campus and students being directed to the Quad Cities for the WIU courses they want.
IBHE/FAC BUSINESS MEETING: The various reports from subcommittees reviewing the Citizens' Agenda were discussed. It was suggested that the Citizens' Agenda document recognize research as a part of the mission of higher education in Illinois and that wording changes be incorporated in the revised draft to recognize education missions beyond training for job skills. The decision was also made to develop a position statement of the Lake County University Center proposal suggesting more explicit indication of faculty roles in assessment, advising, and governance of the University Center.
Submitted by Terry L. Weech, UIUC Representative to the IBHE/FAC, 12/20/98.