By Melissa Mitchell At a time when higher education finds itself increasingly under the microscope of public scrutiny, UI provost Larry Faulkner says there's only one no-nonsense way for institutions such as the UI to respond. "We have to deliver the goods," said Faulkner, who led off the University YMCA's "Know Your University" lecture-luncheon series Jan. 24. He presented his perspective - after a year on the job - of the "issues and opportunities" currently facing the UI. Without a doubt, Faulkner said, the strongest asset university leaders have to bank on as they draft the Academic Plan for the Year 2000 - a plan that will be used to guide the university into the next century - is the UI's "rich past." Among the hallmarks of that past are quality, leadership, innovation and a commitment to being "a place that believed in its young people," he said. "Our responsibility is to preserve and extend" that heritage. "Because it's been known as a place of quality and leadership, the university has enjoyed public support," Faulkner added. "We can't do that with any amount of advertising. We have to place quality of programs on the table." At the same time, the UI today must confront additional challenges that have evolved as the state has positioned itself as a major player in an increasingly interconnected world economy. "Illinois is a state with global interests," Faulkner said. "Illinois is a large state with a large, complex, sophisticated economy; a population rich and diverse in backgrounds; and includes one of the nation's largest cities" that is both a financial and cultural center, he said. For those reasons, Illinois "requires a university with a global reach." One way in which the UI is well-positioned to tackle some of these challenges and extend its reach has been through its ability take the lead in the fast-paced area of computing and telecommunications technologies. "This institution is at an advantage in this area," he said. "There are some opportunities here for us to use Champaign-Urbana as a base to extend the influence of this university to our students, to our state, our nation and the world." Faulkner added that two important tools used worldwide to navigate the Internet - the mail program Eudora and the World Wide Web browser NCSA Mosaic - were invented at UIUC. Faulkner added that he would like to see "a recommitment to invention" in all areas of the campus. "We have had a wonderful past that has hosted remarkable inventions from time to time," he said, noting that the list sometimes has included facilities considered to be "structural marvels" for their time, such as the Assembly Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Beckman Institute. A reemphasis on invention, creation and originality also could be vital in the university's efforts to confront what the provost labeled as the institution's biggest liability - constraint in space. By that, Faulkner said he doesn't mean the lack of individual office space, but rather the fact that the UI is "disconnected from intellectual centers" of the country. "We have to counteract that," he said, noting that in the past, inventiveness has led to the development of "fantastic facilities" that served as magnets to draw the very best teachers and researchers to the UI from the established intellectual centers. As campus leaders continue to redefine and propose means by which the university can effectively maintain and enhance its longstanding reputation for excellence, Faulkner acknowledged that certain formidable obstacles must be surmounted. The single most "disturbing weakness" facing UI policymakers is the inability to provide a more competitive salary program for faculty and staff members, Faulkner said. "Restoration of the salary scale" remains a top priority. Another concern is "faculty strength," he said, referring to the erosion in recent years in the size of the UI's professoriate. As a result of budget reallocations, about 150 faculty positions have been cut. Faulkner said he is committed to "preserving faculty strength at the level it is at now." However, he added, "In my mind, salaries come first, numbers of faculty, second." Still another area of concern for members of the campus community that Faulkner addressed is external pressure resulting from the "productivity" issue. "Faculty members and administrators are terrified of it, but that doesn't make it go away," he said. Current reality dictates that there will be a continued emphasis on "finding ways to do the same or better job with the same or fewer resources" and that "we have to fit our ambitions into whatever budget we have." One way to accomplish that, he said, is to resist the tendency to maintain the status quo. "People tend to deliver what's expected," Faulkner said. "The mistake we make often enough is not expecting enough. We have the ability, we have the right, and we have the responsibility to expect a lot." Institutionally, the UI should be less concerned with "looking over its shoulder" by constantly comparing itself to peer schools and more concerned with placing "some premium on origination," Faulkner said. And, all who today walk in the footsteps of "the great people who have walked these halls" share a responsibility "to keep the faith of their legacy and pass that on."