Academic Senate leaders are reviewing the governing body's open-meetings policy and say changes are likely.
"Several passages are out of date and need to be revised," said Joyce Tolliver, chair of the senate's Senate Executive Committee at the SEC's June 20 meeting.
Bill Maher, chair of the University Statutes and Senate Procedures Committee, reported his committee would be reviewing senate standing rules 5 and 10 - which deal with open meetings and public records - to ensure officials are following more stringent state guidelines that went into effect last year.
He said a university legal counsel representative would advise the committee.
Abbas Aminmansour said the recent Institute of Aviation review is a perfect example of how good intentions don't necessarily equate to following the strict interpretation of the law.
Aminmansour, who heads the SEC's Educational Policy Committee, said he had been careful throughout the process, which included many meetings and public hearings, to post all meeting notices to the Web.
But, according to Illinois law, meeting notices must be physically posted as well, though it does not spell out where specifically such notices should be posted.
"It was alleged we had secret meetings," he said of the aviation issue, a charge that someone brought to the Illinois attorney general for investigation.
Aminmansour said the investigation did not unearth illegalities in the process, but led to him redoubling efforts to ensure full public notification and legal compliance in the future.
"It's also important that working documents are marked 'draft,' " he said.
Maher said the state statutes apply to all committee formats and that even committee recommendations were considered public, shareable information.
"It's becoming increasingly essential," said Tolliver, noting a need for open-meetings training. "It's something our leaders need to know."
Some SEC members expressed concern over the university's annual report, which they said illustrated an emerging pattern of blurring the Urbana campus's distinction as the UI's flagship institution.
Members also expressed concern over budget statistics showing only 45 percent of university resources going toward teaching and research, and how information about the Urbana campus - some of it negative - was being disseminated to the public.
"This is not a new conversation," said Tolliver, who suggested discussion of the matter be initiated through a universitywide summit. "It's an ongoing challenge for us ... to keep an eye out for the erosions."
SEC member Nick Burbules said the annual report was one of many universitywide, external-audience documents "seemingly" reflecting a "rhetorical shift" toward administrative centralization of the three UI campuses.
"We must remain vigilant about anything that blurs distinctions or allows people to forget that the Urbana campus is not just one of three campuses - we are the flagship," he said.
Another concern voiced by SEC leaders was a "dashboard" report presented by administrators at the last Board of Trustees meeting which showed Urbana trailing in some metrics as compared to the two other UI campuses. The belief was that, while not intentional, the information could have been presented more positively.
Burbules said he wondered whether it was worth recommending in the future that UI academic government leaders review documents that affect the university's "coordination of message."
"A second set of eyes is sometimes helpful," he said.
Tolliver said faculty leaders should take up the general topic of, "What is the place of faculty oversight?"
SEC member Nancy O'Brien said she felt the annual report was a "feel-good" piece and not necessarily reflective of any overall change in the university's administrative direction.
"We have professionals who are paid to do this and I like to think we can rely on them," she said.
She said senators should be more focused on the messages contained within internal campus college and campus annual reports.