Senate Executive Committee leaders Monday kept the door open for the Urbana Academic Senate to directly offer advice to UI President Michael J. Hogan and the UI Board of Trustees on a proposed approach to universitywide enrollment management.
The SEC approved the formation of an ad hoc committee comprising the leaders of five senate subcommittees and two faculty members, who will study the implications for a new enrollment management strategy and may offer input to the president and board.
The recommendations were included in a review of the university's enrollment management, commissioned by Hogan last winter following a decision by the UI Board of Trustees to approve the appointment of a new universitywide executive director of enrollment planning and management. The president commissioned the review as a prelude to beginning a search for a director. The review and its recommendations were given to the board and to the University Senates Conference, which includes the leadership of the campus senates, last July.
The board endorsed the report and its findings a month later and made its implementation part of the president's performance goals for the current academic year. When the president asked the USC to review the report last July, he specifically requested the conference inform him about the role that faculty members currently play in enrollment management and how that role could be preserved as the recommendations are implemented.
At the Oct. 17 SEC meeting, Sen. Nick Burbules, a professor of education policy, organization and leadership, who also serves as one of SEC's Urbana representatives to the University Senates Conference, urged the immediate formation of an Urbana-based committee.
"We need to set up a process for an expedited review," Burbules said. "I think there are a lot of pieces (in the new policy) that are dangerous. We have to do something now."
Senate leaders have expressed concern over some parts of the enrollment management policy being urged by Hogan and already endorsed by the board of trustees.
According to Burbules, many of the new enrollment management provisions go against standing statutes giving campus academic leaders oversight of enrollment and related matters. Specifically, there are concerns over the recommendations' effect on admissions, transfers, course articulation, financial aid and recruitment. Burbules also said there is concern that the director's position goes beyond recommendations made in an Administrative Review and Restructuring report prepared for the university by an outside consultant.
Burbules said the need for urgency in formation of the SEC's ad hoc committee is over concerns the matter will go before the board of trustees with recommendations from an already formed university task force and from the USC - but none specifically from the Urbana campus.
Sen. Mike Biehl, a clinical professor of comparative biosciences and a member of the USC committee studying the enrollment management issue, said he was worried that adding another level of review would lead to too many levels of advice to administration, thus making concerns convoluted and less likely to be heard.
Biehl said he believes the USC committee, which has members from all three campuses, is capable of delivering a concerted message that still protects individual campus concerns.
"That hopefully should represent campus concerns," he said. "I would ask that you give us that opportunity."
Burbules said he was concerned the issue would come up at the next UI Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 2 and that individual senates may not have a final review.
"He would have implemented this yesterday if he could," Burbules said of Hogan. "He wants to move quickly. I don't think this proposal is ever coming back to the senate and we could lose the opportunity for a campus voice in this process."
SEC members approved the formation of the subcommittee, but not unanimously. Two no votes and one abstention also were cast.
The committee will include leaders of the SEC's admissions, education policy, general university policy, university statutes and senate procedures, and conference on conduct governance committees, two faculty members selected by SEC Chairman Matt Wheeler and Keith Marshall, associate provost for enrollment management, as an ex-officio member. The committees also will seek advice from appropriate college deans.
In the meantime, Wheeler was asked to write a letter to Hogan asking for assurance the enrollment management issue and the president's proposal will come before the Urbana senate.