University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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September 27, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.04.13 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, May 21, 2004.

Chancellor David Werner welcomed the FAC to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. The campus opened in 1965 has a dental school in Alton and some classes at the former community college in East St. Louis. Werner, retiring this year, stressed we do not do enough to educate the public about the quality and role of higher education.  We need to push much harder on getting a tax increase.  He wishes the Governor would pay more attention to the BHE, which he feels is largely being ignored.  He sees no clear value in changing the current Illinois higher education structure.

BHE’s Don Sevener, Interim Director of Governmental Relations and continuing in his public relations role, described the chaos in Springfield. He expects adjournment by May 31, avoiding the required 3/5th super majority for budget actions after that date.  However, there is no clear sense of what the budget will be. BHE budget recommendations are a lost cause; will be lucky to get the Governor’s initial budget recommendations for higher ed.  The budget action is taking place in negotiations behind closed doors among very few people with “shell” bills with no content waiting.  He expects the 700-plus page budget bill to be enacted with most not knowing what all is in it.  There will be a lot of public show but the time for input into the process is over.  The size of the deficit is unknown, estimates range from $1.7B to $3.5B. Many issues are still unresolved with tax increases proposed by the Governor, borrowing from special funds, gambling revenues, more cuts all in the mix.

The dynamics this year are very different.  Last year the Governor got what he asked for. Will not happen to the same degree this year.  Session is unlike any seen before.  A huge hole to fill and an unwillingness to come to grips with the problem unlike the case with Thompson and Edgar.  Situation was described as government by scapegoating and press releases.  Support for a tax increase is building but will not happen until the FY’06 budget.   A tax increase demands lots of folk joining together in a coalition with higher ed one element.  Higher ed must make the case for its needs on the basis of the last three years showing the negative impact.  Cannot whine about lost jobs, etc.: lots of jobs lost and salaries frozen.  Focus must be on harm to Illinois and its citizens. Need to make a real case for state and citizen needs, not the institution or individuals.  The cuts in administration played very well in talks with legislators. Higher ed opened its books more than others and also was a good citizen in taking cuts like others.  But need to point out the risk of serious, long-term harm.  Legislators are receptive to our concerns but face very difficult choices.

Asked about information on the 2% recision coming so late, Sevener indicated BHE did not have advance warning and learned about it via an email.  Asked about future strategies, he urged that legislators be invited to the campus as often as possible, be visited in district offices, which often provides more time for discussion and to build personal relationships with them.

No FAC committee meetings were held as discussion of various issues took up the entire meeting time.  Concern was voiced about the Priorities, Productivity and Accountability Committee.  The first meeting will be May 25 in Chicago.  The FAC wants to be kept fully informed of committee activity by Ken Andersen, an appointed committee member.

Concern was expressed about the possible erosion of heath care benefits and other elements of compensation in the ongoing ASFMCE negotiations that set the pattern for the balance of state employees who are not given a voice in the process.  Alarm was voiced that the reprieve for the Heath Alliance members is only temporary and CMS will again seek to eliminate Health Alliance as a provider.

The potential of offering a baccalaureate degree at community colleges remains an issue.  Harper College is pushing for this but faces opposition from the Community College Board and the BHE.  This issue is a very lively one nationally and activity in other states should be carefully watched.   

The UIS representative raised concerns about a funded grant proposal at the campus which committed them to offer all their degrees on-line, projected 50% of future enrollment being on-line, every student required to have an on-line course to graduate and all faculty required to teach at least one on-line course. This action was taken without faculty consultation.  Since no new degrees are to be offered BHE approval is not required but concern was expressed about work-load issues, educational quality, and particularly the violation of the principles of shared governance in that faculty are denied control of the curriculum and methods of instruction.  The demands of on-line instruction differ from those of traditional classroom activity.

With time for adjournment approaching, it was agreed that elections would be conducted via email with preliminary balloting the week of May 24 and final balloting the following week if a majority vote for a particular nominee did not result from the first vote. Two draft reports were discussed with revisions suggested.  These will be acted upon at the June 11 meeting, a change in meeting date to accommodate Dan Layzell who will discuss issues relative to the revision of The Illinois Commitment.   (Senate Chair Mike Grossman will attend in place of Ken Andersen who had a preexisting commitment for that date.)

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative