Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

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September 27, 1999




The issue of faculty involvement in meetings of the Board of Trustees (BOT) has been discussed for some time on this campus, as well as on many others. The fact that there are now student members of our Board has intensified interest in this issue on all three campuses of the University. There are faculty "observers" from each campus's Senate at BOT meetings; but these "observers" are only that, and have no voice in the meetings they observe. An appropriate faculty presence "at the table," with the privilege of taking part in discussions at Board meetings, would complement the contributions now made by student members and by the President and other University General Officers. Such participation would be to the benefit of all concerned, by providing for timely two-way communication between the Trustees and faculty members knowledgeable of their campuses and of the work and actions of their senates, as matters arise in Board meetings to which this knowledge may be relevant. The third paragraph of the Preamble to the Statutes of this University states:

"The educational policy, organization and governance of the University as delegated by the Board of Trustees are promulgated in the University Statutes. When acting on such matters, the Board relies upon the advice of the University senates transmitted to it by the President of the University."

The proposal advanced by this resolution would be supplementary to this language and manner of proceeding, and would require no changes in the Statutes.

A memorandum on this general issue, dated June 22, 1999, and coded GP.98.08, was submitted to Senate Council and was discussed at several Council meetings during the summer of 1999. Council decided to proceed directly to the development and presentation of the present proposal in order to bring the matter before the Senate for consideration and action at the earliest opportunity in the fall semester of 1999, in concert with GUP if possible. (At its meeting on September 7, GUP agreed to co-sponsor this resolution.)

At some universities faculty are actual members of their boards of trustees; and at its April 18, 1998 Annual Business Meeting in Springfield, the American Association of University Professors of Illinois adopted a resolution expressing its determination to "develop and seek adoption of legislation providing that all public institutions, including community colleges, shall have a faculty member of that institution as a non-voting member of the respective boards of trustees." The uncertainty of the prospects of any such legislation at this time suggests the desirability of a non-legislative approach, at least in the short run, appealing to the Trustees themselves. The fact that this University has three quite diverse campuses, with senates and academic units that operate quite independently of each other on many matters, also requires to be taken into account.

The present resolution presents a way of achieving the basic objective of such an initiative with due regard for these considerations. It would have the effect of involving one faculty member from each campus at meetings of the Board, without vote but with the opportunity to contribute to Board discussions, by providing for the presence "at the table" at Board meetings of the Chair of the Senate Council or counterpart body from each campus. The place and responsibilities of the Senates on each campus and in the structure of the University renders the person on each campus in that position an institutionally uniquely appropriate choice for this role. (Since Executive Sessions of the Board are formally restricted to actual Trustees and the President, inclusion in Executive Sessions cannot reasonably be called for, unless and until legislation is enacted creating faculty Trustees.)

Since these campus representatives would not actually be Trustees, and would be present "at the table" at the invitation of the Board, no legislation or changes in the Statutes would be required to implement this proposal. The Board would of course have the prerogative of withdrawing or restricting the invitation; but if the experiment proves successful in the Board's estimation, it could become the functional equivalent of the "non-voting membership" called for in the AAUP resolution. Any chances there may be either of legislation or of the introduction of explicit language in the Statutes relating to faculty representation on or to the Board, at some point in the future, may also be increased if such experience is favorable. Both in the short run and in the long run, this proposal thus would seem to offer the greatest prospect of success.

If the present resolution receives UIUC Senate approval, it is understood that it would be communicated to the other two campus senates with the invitation to join with us in this initiative. It then would be forwarded to Senates Conference for transmittal to the President and submission to the Trustees.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees be requested to invite the Chair of the UIUC Senate Council and counterpart Chairs of the other two University of Illinois campus senates to participate in Board meetings with voice privilege whenever Board rules permit, and to take part in other Board activities as may be appropriate.

    Robert Rich, Chair
    Richard Schacht, Vice-Chair
    Geneva G. Belford
    Paul F. Byrne
    Haydn Chen
    Thomas F. Conry
    Robert Fossum
    Earl Grinols
    Raymond Leuthold
    Brandon McKinney
    Steven Seitz
    Wesley Seitz
    Lawrence E. Tabone
    Terry Weech
    Steve Seitz, Chair
    Nicholas Burbules
    Ira Carmen
    Robert Clarkson
    Brandon McKinney
    Heather Suchobrus