February 17, 2003
University of Illinois
HE.03.07 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, January 31, 2003.
The FAC met at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago. Dr. Wayne Watson, Chancellor of the City Colleges, addressed the group and responded to questions. He believes that we are in an "undeclared recession" with the numerous issues facing the country affecting higher education, indeed, all of education. One particular concern is proposals in some places to cut back on elementary and second education to 4 days, a move he terms a disaster. "We say we value education but we do not based on the evidence."
The City Colleges of Chicago enroll 160,000 students: 55K in college credit courses, 45K in vocational/work force curricula, about 50K adult education students, and the remainder in continuing education taking a course or two. Faculty turnover is almost non-existent except for retirements, as salaries are good. He sees his responsibility as maintaining an environment enabling faculty to teach, to do what faculty do. Standards for student achievement should be high; there is a need to raise those standards. The quality of work of community college students should match that of students in four-year institutions.
He accepts the responsibility of helping students overcome deficiencies in their preparation as one mission. Elementary and secondary schools must improve the quality of their graduates but that requires far greater resources than we give them and we need to link K-12 and higher education. We must challenge legislators by reminding them that nothing is more important than improving the quality of education. Citing W. E. DuBois saying the challenge of the 20th century is color (internationally, not just in the United States), Watson sees that as the challenge of the 21st century as well. Issues of color are linked to many of the most pressing issues of our society. "The key is education: the best defense is an intelligent body, one with critical thinking skills."
In response to questions he accepted the reality of testing students but stressed that faculty must set the standards. We cannot continue unfunded mandated requirements-we have to have the resources to get to the goals set. To impact legislators, it is essential to get our students registered and voting. Short-term we must continue remediation at the college level, long term we should increase funding to elementary and secondary so they do a better job. The state needs to rethink its policies in a number of areas. For example, the state formula subsidizes nursing students at $70 per credit hour, remedial education at $20 and English as a Second Language at $16 an hour. Nursing is important, but so are remediation and mastery of the English language.
IBHE Deputy Director for Policy and Analysis, Douglass Day briefed the group on activities in four areas of IBHE concern: budget, affordability, faculty/staff diversity and assessment. The delay of the Governor's budget presentation to April means that there is a longer period of time to educate the Governor and his staff about necessary support for education. The IBHE is actively engaged in working with new executive and legislative staff. Rumors abound in Springfield with no basis for projections. Many anticipated a series of recisions in January that did not happen. There are rumors of what may be cut including funding of the State Universities Retirement System. It is unclear whether the Governor will appoint a Deputy Governor for education. The concern about tuition limits continues. Line item budgeting is a possibility. The UPI study putting so many support staff into the category of administrators does not accurately reflect staff changes in universities. If cuts occur it is unclear who would determine what is cut, i.e., the legislature, Governor, the IBHE, or individual institutions.
Hearings on faculty/staff diversity have gathered data and viewpoints. One issue is whether to issue the report prior to the Supreme Court decision on Michigan's admission programs. That ruling could have a profound impact on recommendations and even impact the programs of student monetary support. Some findings and analysis will likely be presented at the April BHE meeting and recommendations follow after the decision is announced. Illinois has the most segregated pattern of attendance of school system in the nation. Admissions standards employed in Texas and California could disadvantage many excellent students of color. If they attend a school with very high academic standards they could be excellent students at Illinois but not finish in the top 10 or 20% of their class whereas much less well-prepared students from a poor quality school would be admitted. (One FAC member noted the service academies insist they need affirmative action to achieve their missions.)
Concern was expressed by FAC members that a press release for the February 4 BHE meeting suggested major additional institutional requirements for assessing all graduate and undergraduate programs. The press release was termed somewhat misleading in that the assessment requirements are not new, are in accord with North Central accreditation standards and the institutions and faculty are responsible for determining the means of assessment. The stress is upon using these to improve instruction not just public accountability. The FAC will continue to monitor the impact of these programs.
Following meetings of the various committees, the FAC business meeting approved a resolution calling upon the IBHE, institutions, and the faculty itself to ensure faculty members participate in establishing the "common" and institution specific indicators of performance in meeting the goals of The Illinois Commitment. A second statement stressed the importance of faculty working with administrators in developing policy and budgets, defining administrative roles and assessing the performance of administrators. Two recommendations by the Budget Committee were accepted: the first asked that in the event of a recision academic functions be protected and that discretionary programs of the IBHE be examined for possible cuts. Second, any increase in costs due to program assessment requirements be covered by providing increased resources.
Ken Andersen, FAC Chair
UIUC Senate FAC Representative