March 22, 1999
Meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee February 26, 1999 - Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois
SYNOPSIS: Issues relating to quality of education tied to The Illinois Commitment document (previously known as The Citizens' Agenda) were discussed by a panel consisting of Donna Corriveau, IBHE Staff, Teshone Abebe, Provost of Eastern Illinois University, and Ron Ettinger, Vice-President of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI). Donna Corriveau presented the proposed changes to the criteria for approval and review of programs in public universities and criteria for certificate of approval for operation of independent institutions (non-public institutions of higher education). In the afternoon business session several resolutions were considered and communications from IBHE Executive Director Keith Sanders on the budget adjustments required as a result of the Governor's budget were discussed.
MORNING SESSION: Eastern Illinois University Provost Teshone Abebe welcomed the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) to the campus and presented some background on the programs and challenges at Eastern. Fred Flener, Chair of the FAC, introduced the three panel members and suggested Donna Corriveau of the IBHE staff go first with her explanation of the proposed revision of the Criteria for Approval of On and Off-Campus Programs at Public Universities and for Program Review Criteria.
Donna Corriveau indicated that the thrust of the new criteria is to emphasize outcomes and focus on best practices examples in the tradition of quality assurance processes in the private sector. This is also a move toward deregulation, leaving it up to the faculty and the campus to make many of the assessments formerly done by the IBHE staff. There was considerable discussion of the draft revisions to the IBHE approval procedures. Many of the members of the FAC were concerned that the draft procedures would result in more work for faculty and campuses as the assessment responsibilities were shifted to that level. Some felt that it was impossible to measure quality in a way that the proposed criteria seemed to anticipate. Donna Corriveau emphasized that these revisions were still in draft stage and the intention is to turn more responsibility over to the faculty and individual institution.
Provost Abebe spoke about the way Eastern has tried to assess quality in its programs and measure the level of quality achieved. He noted that the institution and the faculty are already responsible for their output in terms of the graduates that exit from their programs. He suggested that institutions need to assess teaching as they do research, using external evaluators and taking steps to disseminate the results of teaching just as research is assessed and disseminated.
Ron Ettinger, Vice-President of the University Professionals of Illinois, spoke of the difficulties of measuring quality in universities, especially in teaching. He presented a summary of the American Federation of Teachers' document, "First Principles," which outlines a commitment to quality and accountability. He raised the issue of adjunct and part-time faculty, noting the decrease in full-time faculty and the increase of part-time and adjunct faculty at institutions such as the University of Illinois. He noted that distance education, especially, presents a challenge to the full-time faculty lines. The University of Phoenix has only 50 full-time faculty and over 54,000 students.
There was considerable concern expressed by the members of the FAC over the issue of the increase in part-time and adjunct faculty. Many felt that the issue may be directly related to quality issues in higher education. There was also further discussion, sometimes heated, on how one might define quality and assess it in an academic environment while maintaining a commitment to the principles of academic freedom. Several FAC members referred to the Illinois Goal Assessment Program (IGAP), established by the Illinois Board of Education for elementary and secondary schools, and expressed hope that the IBHE proposed changes in assessment would not turn into an IGAP program, which was seen by some as not a good model.
IBHE/FAC BUSINESS MEETING: A resolution was presented for IBHE/FAC action on recommending that a course in American Government be required of all college graduates as part of their general education requirements. After much discussion, with many expressing concern that the FAC should not become involved with recommending that specific courses be required from specific disciplines, the motion to adopt the resolution was defeated. A second resolution was presented to ask the IBHE to review the Illinois Articulation requirements and to work with the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) to compare The Illinois Commitment goals with the courses required in the articulation initiative. After considerable discussion, this resolution was withdrawn with the understanding that it would be revisited after the FAC has an opportunity to discuss the Illinois Articulation Initiative at a meeting scheduled for later this spring.
Doug Day, IBHE Liaison, presented two memoranda from Keith Sanders, Executive Director of the IBHE. The memoranda dealt with the allocations of Governor Ryan's Higher Education Budget. Allocations must be adjusted because of the difference between the IBHE recommendation of $167,809,100 and the Governor's proposed $137,000,000 budget for higher education. It was reported that over $30 million must be eliminated and the IBHE is working with the individual institutions to make specific recommendations for reductions.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m. and the members reconvened into the FAC subcommittees on the goals of The Illinois Commitment document.
Submitted by Terry L. Weech, UIUC Representative to the IBHE/FAC, 3/1/99.