By Craig Chamberlain The UI Board of Trustees chose new leadership and welcomed new members at its meeting Jan. 20 in Urbana. Thomas Lamont, D-Springfield, became the new chair of the board after his was the only name placed in nomination at the start of the board's annual meeting to elect officers. He was then elected on a voice vote. The process took all of five minutes, in contrast to several elections in recent years that required multiple votes. Lamont, who also served in the board's top leadership post in 1992, said he was honored to serve again. "I look forward to working cooperatively with my colleagues in dealing with the challenges ahead, especially selecting a new president to lead the university," he said. Lamont's term began immediately and will continue for one year. He succeeds Kenneth Boyle, D-Chatham, who lost his seat in the November election. Elected to the board in 1990, Lamont is a partner in the Springfield law firm Gordon and Glickson, P.C. He is a former director of civil litigation in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General and a former executive director of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office. He earned his law degree at the UI in 1972 and his bachelor's degree at Illinois State University in 1969. Welcomed to the board were two new members, elected in November: William Engelbrecht, R-Henry, and Martha O'Malley, D-Belleville. They replace Boyle and Donald Grabowski, R-Lake Forest, who was not included on the slate of candidates recommended to the state Republican Party by the UI Alumni Association's Republican selection committee. The third seat up before voters in November was filled by Judith Reese, R-Chicago, who was re-elected to a second term. Even though two of the faces on the board have changed, Democrats continue to hold the same 6-3 majority. In other action as part of its annual meeting, the board re- elected three officers to one-year terms: Michele Thompson, secretary; Craig Bazzani, comptroller; and Byron Higgins, university counsel. Lester McKeever Jr., who had served as treasurer since July of last year, was elected to that post for a two-year term. None of these officers are members of the board. A Springfield campus? Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, in his recent State of the State address, revived a proposal to make Sangamon State University, Springfield, a part of the UI. UI President Stanley O. Ikenberry, in comments Friday to the university's board, said he and many faculty and administrators have a "cautious but . significant interest" in exploring the idea. He also noted that there is "very considerable enthusiasm" for the idea in the city of Springfield. The same proposal was blocked two years ago by a Democrat- controlled House, but it stands a better chance this time with the governor's party now in control of the General Assembly. Edgar also reintroduced two other proposals aimed at restructuring the state's public higher education system - the elimination of two university governing boards and a switch from electing to appointing UI trustees - but Ikenberry only mentioned those in passing and offered no comment. Much remains to unfold on the merger issue over the next two to three months, Ikenberry said, and the two schools probably cannot do "serious planning and consultation" until broad policy goals are outlined by the legislature. Even if the merger were approved by the state, it would require a significant transition period, not unlike that needed in the 1980s to consolidate the two UI campuses in Chicago, Ikenberry said. "I don't think we're simply talking about changing the name on the front of the building," he said, and many academic and other concerns would need to be worked out. "There's obviously a long ways to go." Ikenberry said after the meeting that he has been "supportive of the basic concept from the beginning" and that his "personal sense is that this would be good for the university and good for the state." The budget: good news and bad news On another topic, Ikenberry said the 1995-96 budget recommendations recently approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education are both "good news and bad news" for the university. The increase in UI operating funds within the IBHE budget is not as much as the university would have liked, he said. But the increase, if eventually adopted, would be "very clearly a step forward." The IBHE recommendations call for a 3.9 percent increase in state general revenue funds for the UI's operating budget, about 2 percentage points below the university's request. They also provide for an increase of approximately 3 percent in funds for salaries - not including increases for Medicare and other related payroll costs - instead of the 4 percent requested. The university's two main budget priorities are to restore salary competitiveness and faculty strength, Ikenberry said. The most recent budgets have the UI on the road to recovery on salaries, with small gains made against other institutions, he said, "but there's a substantial amount of progress still to be made." The governor approved the IBHE's recommendations in full last year, and "we're cautiously optimistic" that he will do so again, Ikenberry said. Bill Nugent, executive director of the UI Foundation, reported that Campaign Illinois, the university's $1 billion fund-raising campaign, "is indeed in full bloom" and on schedule. With the campaign now about 40 percent through its schedule, about 40 percent of the goal, or $400 million, has been received or committed, he said. In other business: * The board met in executive session on Thursday afternoon for an update on the search process to find a successor to Ikenberry, who has announced he will retire this summer. Illini Union to renovate north staircases * The board heard a presentation on Friday morning regarding plans for the renovation this summer of two open spiral staircases on the north side of the Illini Union. The latest in a series of life-safety improvements to the Union, being carried out to bring the building up to code, the $2.3 million project will enclose both staircases to prevent the spread of smoke into the stairway or between floors in the case of a fire. As they now exist, the staircases would act as "chimneys" for smoke during a fire, said William Ponko, vice president of The Troyer Group Inc., a Mishawaka, Ind., architectural firm. This is an added problem because the stairways must serve as the main exits from the upper floors on that side of the building, he said. The staircases will be enclosed by installing doorways on each floor between the stairs and the floor space. During normal operation of the building, the doors will remain open to allow for the easy flow of traffic. In the case of a fire, they will close automatically, but will not lock, Ponko said. The project will entail the disassembly of both staircases and their eventual reassembly using the same style and quality of materials. To remove the jog in the hallway around the northwest staircase - as a means of improving traffic flow - the northwest staircase will be reassembled with its spiral reversed, from counterclockwise to clockwise. This will allow for removal of the stairs going down to the basement, with new stairs to be installed where the hallway now jogs. When the renovation is complete, the hallway will be straight. Trustee Judith Calder, D-Glencoe, expressed some dismay at the changes that will come with the renovation, saying it was more than she expected. Ponko tried to assure the trustees that care had been taken to preserve the building's architectural character, noting that the project had been approved by the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency. "There are subtle changes, but the big idea will still be there," he said. Robert Todd, UI associate vice president for administration and human resources, noted that as the former director of the Union he had resisted attempts to do this work, but now sees the necessity. An estimated 30,000 people a day pass through the Union, he said, and the building codes could not be ignored. The plans were brought to the board as an informational item. A recommendation for the contract on the project is expected at the March meeting. New name for Willard up in the air * A group of community leaders, part of a local Air Service Task Force started in April last year, presented a recommendation for changing the name of the university's airport. Led by P. David Kuhl, president of Busey Bank, and including the twin cities' mayors, the task force has been studying ways to improve local air service and to improve the airport's position for dealing with changes in the airline industry. The current name is University of Illinois Willard Airport. Two alternatives recommended by the task force were Champaign County Regional Airport-Arthur C. Willard Terminal and Champaign County Regional Willard Airport. "The idea is plain and simple," said Champaign mayor Dannel McCollum. "We want a greater geographic recognition as a tool for marketing the airport." Trustees were either tentative or doubtful in their response to the proposal, and they approved a motion to table the matter for later discussion. * The board heard a presentation on Friday morning from Patricia Askew, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, in which she outlined a variety of changes and developments in programs for UI students. Among the highlights, she noted that a freshman convocation is being planned for the fall semester, $6 million is being raised for student scholarships through Campaign Illinois, and new attention is being paid to student leadership development programs. * The board approved a recommendation from the College of Agriculture that the Plant and Animal Biotechnology Laboratory be renamed the Edward R. Madigan Laboratory, in honor of Illinois Congressman Edward R. Madigan, who died Dec. 7, 1994. Madigan, R- Lincoln, was a member of the Illinois General Assembly before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served on the Agriculture Committee, becoming ranking minority member in 1983. President George Bush named him Secretary of Agriculture in 1991. * The board approved the conferring of honorary degrees at commencement exercises May 14 to Hachiro Koyama, chairman and representative director of SmithKline-Beecham (Japan), and William J. Rutter, chairman of the board of directors of Chiron Corp. and professor emeritus, University of California, San Francisco. Koyama will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and Rutter will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.