Urbana Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise told UI trustees at the board's March 15 meeting in Urbana that campus leaders are working on a plan to increase summer school enrollment and are organizing the upcoming UI-sponsored Global University Summit.
The board meeting was the first hosted on the Urbana campus since Wise started leading the university last fall.
She said early discussions of the summer school plan have centered on enticing more students to attend, an increased emphasis on online learning and even the consideration of offering three-year degrees to qualified students.
"The overall goal is to lessen the financial burden for our students and to allow a greater number of them to access the university," she said. "Students are our key."
She said the idea for a three-year degree was being developed to serve the increasing number of students taking advanced-placement or college-credit classes in high school.
Wise, also a UI vice president, said the biggest challenge for summer school expansion is not students' willingness to cooperate, but the unavailability of large-scale employment in the Champaign-Urbana area.
"I suspect there are thousands of students wanting to take summer classes," she said, "but there aren't thousands of jobs here."
She said most students return home during the summer because that's where they're more likely to get jobs.
Board Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy suggested campus leaders work with companies that have purchasing agreements with the university to find whether the companies would participate in a jobs program.
Wise said plans continue to progress for the Global University Summit, scheduled April 29-May 1.
She said 80 university and corporate leaders from around the world had already committed to attending and that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn would be an honorary host at one of the events.
"The Global University Summit will be a great opportunity to meet with leaders from all over the world," Wise said after the trustees meeting. "Cross-institutional collaboration is becoming more and more important and this will be a great opportunity to make some of those vital connections for the future."
Wise told trustees that "those connections" are created many times from just having educators together in the same room.
The summit is co-sponsored by the Urbana Campus and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and co-chaired by Wise and Kim Wilcox, a Michigan State administrator.
With more than 8,000 international students and 263 institutional links in 57 countries, Wise said there is little doubt the UI is a "global brand." The key to success, and solving worldwide problems, she said, is keeping those broad connections strong and to form more of them.
"Competition is going to be greater and greater," she said. "There is no equilibrium here; you have to change and you have to move forward."
Trustees heard a positive report from University Senates Conference Chairman Don Chambers on the progress of work between academic and administrative leaders on a new enrollment-management plan.
"We're joyous we've come to such a positive conclusion," Chambers said of the collaborative effort.
Chambers said the two sides worked hard to find agreement on nearly every outstanding issue associated with enrollment management, including improved campus reporting lines and the shelving of a university rebranding plan for admissions that academic leaders claimed blurred the distinction of each campus.
Chambers praised the involvement of Kennedy and UI President Michael J. Hogan for their involvement in the discussions. He said final versions of the enrollment-management plan would soon be sent to individual campus senates for final recommendations and approval.
"It's a demonstration of shared governance at its best," Chambers said.
The USC chair also recognized new members of the Springfield campus delegation.
Revenue streams and the state's dwindling financial support were two strong themes running throughout the trustees' meeting.
"We can add two material uncertainties to our list," said chief financial officer Walter Knorr, commenting on recent moves by state legislators that would leave the university paying larger portions of pension and Medicaid costs.
He said the proposal to cut Medicaid would particularly be a difficult hit to UIC's hospital, which already operates on a thin margin.
He said Quinn's recent budget request reflected a 1 percent increase, though the extra money is earmarked for pension payments and an increase to the state's Monetary Award Program.
"The governor is trying to hold (the university's budget) flat," Knorr said, which is a roundabout victory because almost every other state agency is being cut significantly. He said the state's support of the university was down 34 percent over the past 10 years while enrollment has increased by 10,000 students. The university still holds nearly $350 million in outstanding state obligations and continues to receive payments at least six months late.
Trustees heard reports from leaders of the UI Foundation and UI Alumni Association on current campaigns being conducted to increase the amount of money contributed to the university.
Foundation President Sidney Micek said the Brilliant Futures campaign, started in 2007, had reached its goals of raising $2.25 billion for scholarships and programs.
Urbana hit its $1.5 billion fundraising goal last spring and its total stands now at $1.66 billion. UIS has raised $28.4 million, surpassing its $28 million goal. UIC recently reached its goal of $650 million with a "significantly large gift" donated by a private benefactor to the College of Medicine.
He said leaders have already begun work on the new Access Illinois campaign, which seeks $100 million in donations to promote student financial support.
The Alumni Association is completing an update of its membership using a new Web tool to better track and update member information. So far, 9,000 member records, which will be used for future fundraising, have been updated.
Christophe Pierre, vice president of academic affairs, reported that eligibility requirements for the President's Award Program were being strengthened to reach more highly qualified and underrepresented students.
He said the university also had added a pilot "honors" component so that students performing higher than the minimum requirement could receive more monetary assistance.
Started in 1985 with about 100 students participating, the program has now grown to more than 1,000 students, Pierre said.
In other business
The trustees approved the appointment of Allen H. Renear as interim dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He will be paid an annual salary of $209,988. He was appointed interim dean designate under the same conditions and salary arrangement Feb. 16.
He succeeds John M. Unsworth, who had served in the role since August 2003 and who has left the university.
- Approved University Housing to proceed with the planning and construction of the third residence hall in the Stanley O. Ikenberry Commons. Nugent Residence Hall will be completed this summer, and Residence Hall No. 2 will open its doors to students in fall 2013. This next phase of work is to include building a residence hall in the current location of Forbes Hall; demolition of Taft and Van Doren residence halls; a new storm-water detention system within the west playing fields on First Street; and all associated site work. The $80 million proposed north addition and associated work will provide 155,000 gross square feet of residence hall.