March 20, 2000
Meeting of the University Senates Conference
February 17, 2000
Meeting held by Videoconference
President Stukel and Vice President Gardner met with the Conference during the executive session, which began at 9:00 a.m., and ended at about 11:00. This was the first experiment in holding a conference meeting by videoconference. We at Urbana felt a bit handicapped since both Jim and Chet were in Chicago, but mostly communications went well.
The conference first asked about the status of benefits for "domestic partners". It seems that AFSME has to some extent taken over the issue, since they want to "bargain" it with CMS. It is not clear whether this is good or bad news. At least AFSME is at the CMS "table", which the university is not. Right now the Trustees' worry is that the cost may be large for opposite-sex partners.
The Governor's budget message was largely good news for us. Convincing the legislature is the next task. There is a draft senate resolution out there encouraging the UI to take an expanded role in economic development. There was some discussion as to whether this was good or bad, with Chet arguing that it would be helpful to be able to change the rules so that faculty could more freely engage in entrepreneurial activities.
There was some discussion about state student aid that effectively helps support high faculty salaries at private universities (Chicago, Northwestern). The president remarked that this happens with federal aid, too, but organizations like the AAU don't want to get into this issue. Since we are not likely to be able to join the game by raising tuition, we are left with trying to raise more money for endowed chairs, etc.
Jim leaves at about 10:15 and we move on to the discussion items specifically for Chet. First he reported on the status of S3. A cost-benefit study of the various recommendations had been completed and sent to the campus S3 committees for comment by March 9. There is a report to the Board of Trustees planned for April.
Chet handed out some material on "performance measures" for us to study - one document from his office, one from IBHE. The conference plans to take up this topic in depth at its next meeting.
Finally, there was an extensive discussion of the governance of research parks, and in particular the composition of their governing boards. Although the Board of Trustees seems to want to have majority control, the administration is behind the faculty in insisting on adequate faculty representation. It was noted that, although this right now seems to be an Urbana issue, it is important to all three campuses that the issue be properly resolved.
The business meeting began at 11:00 with a UIC campus update by Bill Jones, UIC senate chair.
A lot has been going on - the search for a new chancellor, the problems with human subjects research, the recent crisis in stressful power outages, the criticism resulting from certain high-profile hires. With respect to the senate, they are writing new by-laws, reorganizing their committee structure.
The first action item on the agenda was a draft confidentiality policy. With a few minor modifications, the policy was approved and the item removed from the agenda.. The second action item was the UIUC Senate resolution on University Senates Conference. This item was tabled.
The conference then turned to the discussion of the regular information items on the agenda. As usual, they consisted for the most part of status reports (e.g., reports on the progress, if any, of various statutes amendments and other policy documents through the various campus senates), and reports on what went on at various other meetings (e.g., Board of Trustees, management teams, USC committees).
Note particularly that the resolution on the Increase in Faculty Fringe Benefits coming from the UIUC campus was passed by UIC on Jan. 27 and was expected to pass the UIS senate on Feb. 18.
Submitted by Geneva Belford
USC Representative to the Urbana-Champaign Senate Council