Five more review teams are examining another set of campus programs to determine possible cost savings or revenue generation as part of the Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois initiative.
The Stewarding Excellence steering committee announced March 8 the second group of project teams and their areas for review. Independent colleges and schools with fewer than 40 faculty members, including the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, School of Labor and Employment Relations, School of Social Work and the College of Media will be reviewed. Other areas include initiatives and small centers, campus programs supporting teaching, and the Graduate College. An additional team will look at ways to increase revenue generation.
Tom Ulen, a professor of law and of economics for 34 years, chairs the committee examining the individual academic units.
The group will first look at why these particular areas are under review, he said.
In the charge letter announcing the formation of the academic unit review committee, members were asked, among other questions, whether there could be cost savings in merging the units with larger ones and how they became free-standing programs.
Ulen said the committee will explore the history of each of the areas.
Several of these areas are "small, graduate-focused institutions," he said.
Many UI units, such as the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Engineering have been major components of the university since its inception. Other smaller ones were added over time or broke off from larger units at some point, he said.
"In some ways, those (smaller) scholarly institutions appeared by themselves. A lot of them were free-standing (to begin with)," he said.
The challenge for all the review teams is to point out the strengths of each area under review and come up with cost savings as well, he added.
These changes will set the stage for the future, he said.
The recommendations Ulen's and other teams will make won't be easy.
"We've got to preserve the most highly prestigious parts of the university," he said.
In years past, budget cuts have involved more uniform spending limitations, but the current situation is unprecedented.
"This is different from anything I've seen in 34 years," he said.
Ulen recalls years in the '80s when state funding was uncertain for short periods of time, and employees didn't get raises. But shortly after, funding returned to more normal levels and in some cases, employees got retroactive raises.
"We've never been through anything like this," he said. "We're kind of making it up as we go. We don't want to make mistakes that are irretrievable."
David Irwin, a professor of psychology, chairs the Graduate College review team. He's been a professor at Illinois for 19 years.
The Graduate College has existed in its current configuration for the last 10 years. The review team is charged with exploring whether the college, which provides an over-arching support system for graduate students - should exist in its current form.
"(The Graduate College) used to be associated with the vice chancellor for research," Irwin said. "Most peer institutions have graduate colleges - we're not unique in that respect."
"The Graduate College does a lot of things that are common across the different departments in the university," Irwin said. "It handles a lot of the detail of admissions, for example, and it provides a lot of academic support in terms of thesis and dissertation scheduling. The people in the Grad College also do some advising and mentoring; they provide various resources in terms of professional development."
How often and how well the individual academic departments perform functions like these is one area that will be examined, he said.
One of the most important aspects of the Graduate College's duties is helping graduate students find fellowship money through sources such as the National Science Foundation.
"We actually do intend to find out why the Graduate College split off from the vice chancellor for research office," Irwin said.
Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied family studies and associate dean of academic programs in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, is chairing the team reviewing campus programs supporting teaching. Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, the dean of the School of Labor and Employment Relations, is chairing the team reviewing initiatives and small centers. Mary Kalantzis, the dean of the College of Education, chairs the team working to develop new revenue generation strategies.
The five newest areas under review and some of the tasks with which the teams are charged:
Academic Unit Reviews:
(Graduate School of Library and Information Science; School of Labor and Employment Relations; College of Media; and School of Social Work)
- Explore structural and organizational changes and possible consolidations.
- Find budgetary savings while preserving academic mission.
- Explore history of each unit.
Campus Programs Supporting Teaching:
(Center for Teaching Excellence; Campus Programs on Teaching and Learning in the Office of the Provost; Office of Continuing Education; CITES Research and Learning Technology Services)
- Identify areas to reduce duplication and redundancy.
- Explore costs and determine how many faculty and staff members benefit.
Initiatives and Small Centers
(Illinois Informatics Initiative including I-CHASS and Community Informatics; Division of Biomedical Sciences; the Health and Wellness Initiative; Center for Education in Small Urban Communities; I-STEM; the Dalkey Archive; the Center for Translation Studies and the Center for Democracy in a Multiracial Society)
- Identify which programs were created by Illinois statute or by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
- Identify primary beneficiaries of the programs on campus.
- Determine how well the initiative/center supports the missions of the university scholarship.
- Develop a template and review process for the formation of future centers and initiatives.
- Determine which functions can be better performed as a free-standing unit and which ones should be conducted by individual colleges and departments.
- Explore how peer institutions administer to graduate students' needs.
- Find ways for the UI to be less reliant on public funding and more self-sufficient.
- Consider strategies that would lead to growth of revenue from undergraduate and graduate enrollments.
- Consider the benefits and/or costs of increasing non-resident enrollment.
- Consider whether there are policies or procedures that would increase internal flexibility of certain kinds of funds such as research and gift funds.
- Identify barriers that prevent faculty members' entrepreneurial activity.