The Urbana-Champaign Faculty Senate met Oct. 5 and discussed the process that will lead to the recommendation of three Urbana faculty members to serve on the search committee for selecting a new university president to succeed President B. Joseph White, who resigned effective Dec. 31.
In an Oct. 6 e-mail message to deans, directors and department heads, Kim Graber, chair of the Urbana-Champaign Senate's Committee on Committees, asked that names for prospective search committee members be submitted by Oct. 9.
The field of candidates will be narrowed to six nominees through an online election Oct. 14-16 and those names will be forwarded to the University Senates Conference, which will recommend three of them to the UI Board of Trustees.
In addition to three faculty members from the Urbana and Chicago campuses, the 19-member search committee will comprise two faculty members from the Springfield campus, one student from each campus, a civil service staff member, an academic professional staff member, a university administrative officer, three members of the UI Board of Trustees, and one representative each from the UI Alumni Association and the UI Foundation.
At the senate's Oct. 5 meeting at Levis Faculty Center, Joyce Tolliver, chair of the Senate Executive Committee, said that numerous senators had nominated former president Stanley O. Ikenberry to serve as interim president, and she had forwarded a list of nominees that she'd received to board chair Christopher Kennedy. On Oct. 3, the trustees announced Ikenberry's appointment as interim president designate, a position created to allow him to work with White until White's resignation takes effect at the end of December, at which time Ikenberry will become interim president.
Tolliver read portions of a letter written by Carrie Hightman, chair of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, about the impact of the Illinois Legislature's decision to fund Monetary Award Program financial aid grants only for the fall 2009 semester.
"College students in Illinois who can least afford it are bearing the brunt of a devastating cut in the state budget," Hightman wrote. "The Illinois MAP has been slashed in half, and nearly 138,000 students have been abandoned mid-year since their grants for the spring semester have been eliminated. ... MAP helps reduce the educational attainment gap by encouraging more low-income Illinois residents to apply to and stay in Illinois colleges and universities."
The funding cut affects about 5,700 students at the Urbana campus, many of whom will be unable to enroll for spring if the grants are not reinstated, Tolliver said.
Chancellor Richard Herman said that the situation "should be of great concern to all of us," and encouraged senators to attend a rally at noon on Oct. 7 to show support for reinstating the grants. Gov. Pat Quinn led the rally behind the Illini Union.
"The cut amounts to about $30 million across the entire university, so it would be impossible for us to simply make up the funds," Herman said. "It would be egregious at any time, but coming as it has on the heels of many years of poor budgets, it's actually impossible. The best-case scenario that I can imagine is that many students will secure loans for spring, but if this is the case for the future, many more students will not return in the fall. And the idea that this becomes a place for just the 'well off' is something we can ill afford to do."
A resolution sponsored by the SEC that called upon Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly to reinstate MAP grants for the spring semester was added to the senate agenda under "new business" and was passed unanimously.
Senators held a first reading of a proposed amendment to the senate constitution that would support the inclusion of non-faculty academic professional staff members in the senate electorate. Seven academic professionals would be elected to a new, third electorate by academic professionals in academic units, UI Extension and the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, similar to the manner in which faculty senators are elected by their colleagues. One academic staff senator at-large also would be elected. The numbers of faculty senators and student senators in their electorates would remain the same, at 200 and 50, respectively.