Champaign Senate, reported to trustees that members of the University Senates Conference Budget Committee have discussed developing a framework for detailed discussions with the board concerning academic priorities on the three campuses and how those plans are impacted by budget decisions.
"(The state budget cuts) are clearly going to have an impact," he said.
He said the discussions would center on educational policy and priorities during times of uncertainty and austerity. One of the topics would be how to reverse the university's deferred maintenance program to protect current facilities.
Having the talks would also benefit the board, he said, as academic leaders could provide information on how they establish campus priorities. Talking together could lead to greater budget transparency and the ability to better address hiring and retention issues.
"Are there ways to accomplish our mission with less state funding?" he asked rhetorically. "We would like to interact with board members in any way that may be beneficial to the board."
In the public comment portion of the board meeting, journalism professor Jay Rosenstein suggested the board consider tapping into athletic department revenue, which is administered apart from the normal university budget structure.
He said the university could utilize the new revenue the department takes in each year without affecting the department's funding base, and that money could be used to reduce in-state tuition costs or to reduce the impact of state cuts.
Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs, said after the meeting that the idea is well-intentioned, but unfeasible.
"The proposal fails to recognize additional funding for athletics is invested in providing our student-athletes the services and facilities we promised when they chose to compete as representatives of our university," she said.