University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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November 1, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.05.02 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, October 5, 2004.

The BHE met from 9:00 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. at the Illinois Institute of Technology followed by a meeting of the Committee on Priorities, Productivity and Accountability from 1-2 p.m.  Chair James Kaplan reported nominations are needed for the new Diversity Board being established. IIT President Lewis Collins welcomed the group as did state Senator Mattie Hunter who commended IIT as a stabilizing influence in an area undergoing another transition.  Interim Executive Director Tom Lamont reported on the latest report card, “Measuring Up 2004,” which showed Illinois dropping to 8th in the national ranking. Illinois improved in degree completion to a B from C+ of 4 years ago but dropped in affordability to a D from an A.

Reports by advisory groups were brief.  The FAC praised revisions to The Illinois Commitment but pointed out the need to treat issues of the quality of life throughout the document.  The 2006 budget needs to replace funding in areas that have been cut and address diversity needs among faculty, staff and students.  The test should be how we treat the least wealthy among us.  The Student Advisory Committee endorsed the Commitment and called for reallocation of funds not being utilized in the federal work program.  The Proprietary Advisory Committee called for improved metrics in the BHE results report.  The Council of Community College Presidents stressed the need to keep community colleges affordable and supported the BHE’s decision to say no to bachelor’s degrees at community college until further study but called for a date for a decision to be made. The Private College and University Advisory Committee endorsed the Commitment and wants to be involved in decisions about community colleges offering a B.A.

Four institutions presented examples of effective practices: EIU on conservation of energy, DeVry on student consulting teams, Robert Morris on student internships and Kishwaukee College on a textbook loan program. (The complete 250-plus page report, available at the BHE website, was not distributed.)

Dan Layzell presented revisions to the Illinois Commitment noting an emphasis upon quality of life in a new preface stating: “The Illinois Commitment is premised on the conviction that higher education provides the foundation for Illinois’ future by enhancing the social, economic, and civic well-being of the state and its residents.”  The six goals are now seen as a policy framework to be articulated in short-and long-range objectives.  An effort will be made to communicate the Commitment widely including the legislature and the general public. A joint education board will be reformed with the elementary and secondary and higher ed boards participating. Board members voiced concern that civic participation and ethics were not given enough stress.  The document was adopted with the statement that additional revisions to provide a stronger emphasis on such items as civic involvement and ethics would be forthcoming in the spring.

Recommended state matching grants for 2005 were approved as were new units of instruction at community colleges, public universities, and a resolution in support of enhancing worldwide web access for students with disabilities.  New operating authority for several private institutions was granted after a long discussion of the role of the Board in granting operating authority and program authorization to out-of-state entities, specifically Walden University.  The authority of the Board under current law was disputed in terms of what constitutes “physical presence.” This area is a controversial one for the Board and is linked to previous discussions of on-line education and degree completion programs offered at community colleges.  A committee chaired by Board members Sam Gove and Steven Taslitz will be formed (Agenda Item 15) to study issues of program quality and integrity and consider the need for legislative changes, etc.

A proposal to study the issue of community college baccalaureate degrees in conjunction with the Illinois Community College Board was adopted with a report due November 2005.

The report on the context for FY’06 budget development was not discussed.  Total state funding for higher education adjusted for inflation in FY’05 is 1.8% less than in FY’90. State funding declined 8.9% between FY’02 and FY’04.  Key concerns are access, diversity and affordability, and accountability and productivity. The “worst may be over” in terms of state revenues but they will remain relatively flat. Health care, K-12 education, and retirement funding remain major budget pressures.    University income funds (tuition) are more important as state general funding declines.  Key BHE budget themes will be ensuring affordability, enhancing faculty and staff salary competitiveness, and protecting the state’s investment in college and university facilities.

The Committee on Priorities, Productivity and Accountability is continuing its work. A review of 4-year public institutional mission and focus statements saw these as appropriate.  A broad view of faculty productivity is being taken with a concern noted about low salaries being competitive. Regulatory oversight and reporting requirements are being reviewed. Chief financial officers indicated a need to reduce duplication in reports and revise capital development rules.  The Utilities Committee is seeking to establish a revolving fund to help energy conservation programs.

Several information reports were not presented orally and the consent budget adopted without comment. The report on salaries was among those not discussed.  Overall, Illinois ranks at 95.7% of the median salary of comparison group institutions while fringe benefits lag at 82.5%. Total compensation falls at 92.9% statewide in comparisons with peer group medians. Private colleges increased faculty salaries at almost double that of community colleges and public universities in the last two years while civil service salaries increased 7.2%. UIUC’s salaries are at 92% of its comparison group; UIC and UIS matched or exceeded the average levels of their peer group.  In fringe benefits the campus is at 85.1% of its peer group median.  The report did not give total compensation information for individual campuses.  In a breakdown of fringe benefits vs. peer group averages UIUC ranks at 65.6% in retirement and social security; 156.9% in medical, dental, life and disability insurance; and 13.4% in other benefits, e.g., tuition plans and housing,

Ken Andersen, FAC Member
Senate Observer