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Senate discusses future ‘financial challenges’

INSIDE ILLINOIS, May 6, 2010  |  Anna K. Herkamp, Assistant Editor | 217-333-5491

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The coming months may not afford much summer vacation to those dedicated to campus shared governance, said Urbana-Champaign Senate chairwoman Joyce Tolliver at the April 26 meeting.

As the Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois review teams finish their reports, discussions about the university’s financial challenges will continue with all campus stakeholders, she said.

“Given the busy pace of the last few weeks, I would like to be able to say that our work will be over for a few months once we adjourn this final meeting of the academic year, but that’s not the case,” Tolliver said. “My sense is that faculty and student participation in decision-making will be as important as ever next year.”

In his remarks, Interim Chancellor Bob Easter said the state comptroller released $36 million to the university, although the state is still in arrears to the UI.

“Hopefully, we’ll end the calendar year with all the money we’re due (for fiscal year 2010),” he said, adding that there are no predictions for payment schedules for fiscal year 2011.

The latest infusion of cash brings state appropriations for FY2010, which ends June 30, to almost 47 percent. There remain $388 million in unpaid vouchers from the state and about $9 million in vouchers the UI has yet to submit.

In other business, the senate passed resolutions:

  •  Protecting higher education in Illinois, with regard to the retirement system and recent legislation that lowered SURS pensions for future employees. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law April 14.

    The resolution states in part, “the loss or inability to attract quality faculty and staff will negatively impact university students and the overall quality and climate of higher education in Illinois; reductions in pensions and other benefits will effectively result in an unfunded mandate for higher education institutions, since employees will need higher salaries in order to supplement diminished benefits, further impacting recruitment, retentions and the higher education climate.”

  • Committing to diversity and equality initiatives on campus. The resolution states those efforts should have a greater emphasis than cost cutting.

  • Supporting the student senate’s resolution that calls for “a participatory and inclusive process to consider the establishment of a new campus mascot or symbol. However, any such effort must begin with the premise that we will not return to any mascot or symbol that involves Native American imagery or rituals.”

    The student senate resolution recognized that the student body in 2008 voted to support the reinstatement of Chief Illiniwek by a vote of 7,718 in favor and 2,052 opposed. The faculty senate resolution recognizes the “rift” the issue has caused on campus and resolves that a new task force be charged with proposing a new symbol.

  • Senators voted to send back to the Educational Policy Committee a proposal to change language on final exams. The proposed policy states that if a final exam is required, it is to be scheduled during final exam week and that no comprehensive course exam would be held during the last week of classes.

 

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