At the March 10 UI Board of Trustees meeting in Urbana, UI President Stanley O. Ikenberry introduced the possibility of an accelerated degree program that would let students finish their bachelor's degrees in fewer than four years.
Ikenberry said many Illinois students come to campus with college credits from advanced placement classes or from dual enrollment classes taken in high school.
If those credits could be combined with more summer school credit offerings, students could possibly graduate earlier and save a year's worth of college costs.
Another way to help students get through their programs of study more quickly could be to make course transfers from community colleges to the UI smoother.
"It's not as simple, easy and straightforward as it could be," Ikenberry said.
Improving the partnerships between the three UI campuses could help students take advantage of resources at other campuses and possibly increase internship opportunities.
Ikenberry also suggested that high school students could take classes online. UI students also might take some courses online during winter break.
Trustee Lawrence Oliver asked what the next steps would be to create the program, and Ikenberry said a team would be assembled to study the issue and the areas in which some of the methods are already in place.
Trustees and university officials also discussed the financial state of the UI and the state.
Ikenberry told the board that tough financial times are likely to continue for the next year.
The state is reviewing proposed legislation that would allow public universities to borrow money short-term, which Ikenberry described as a "an additional shovel in an already generous hole."
Currently, the state is paying the UI about 17 to 18 percent of its appropriations, while other state institutions are getting funded at 25 to 50 percent, said Walter K. Knorr, vice president, chief financial officer and comptroller.
Trustee James Montgomery asked Knorr whether it was likely the UI would receive any more past due state payments between now and the fall election. Knorr replied that it is unlikely.
The UI has been appropriated $45 million of federal stimulus stabilization funds, which are one-time funds given to states to stabilize education funding.
That money, according to Randy Kangas, associate vice president for planning and budgeting in the University Office for Planning and Budgeting, is expected to be fully expended in the current fiscal year.
Kangas believes the $45 million will arrive soon.
The governor's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget shows that higher education receives a $103 million decrease from the fiscal year 2010 appropriations.
The state owes the UI almost $500 million. "We don't have a payment plan from the state on when they'll pay those funds," Kangas said.
The state revenue shortfall for fiscal year 2011 is projected to be $13 billion. Of that figure, more than $4.1 billion is owed to state pension systems. Higher education represents 8.3 percent of Illinois general fund appropriations.
Ikenberry has said the state's cash shortfall can't be fixed by either budget reduction or revenue enhancement through tax increases, but rather, the solution will be through both means.
Knorr also told the board that the UI Foundation is 80 percent of its way toward a $2.21 billion fundraising goal.
In other business, the board:
- Accepted the resignation of UIS Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen, effective Oct. 31, and approved his appointment as chancellor emeritus. The board also granted him a one-year administrative leave.
- Appointed Terri Elizabeth Weaver as dean of the College of Nursing at Chicago, effective Aug. 16.
- Approved renaming the department of advertising at Urbana the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising after the unit's founder.
- Approved the elimination of the bachelor of science in Liberal Arts and Sciences in biology honors, which was replaced by the molecular and cellular biology honors and integrative biology honors concentrations approved for the majors in molecular and cellular biology and integrative biology.
- Approved renaming the NCSA Petascale Computing Facility as the National Petascale Computing Facility.
- Approved naming the newly constructed residence hall at the Stanley O. Ikenberry Commons as Timothy J. Nugent Hall, which will provide full accessibility beyond Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and house students with severe physical disabilities who currently reside in Beckwith Hall. Nugent founded the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services at the UI's Urbana campus in 1948.
- Tanya Montaleone Gallagher, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences, said proposals are under way for renovation of Beckwith Hall that would create a facility for student veterans with severe disabilities.
- Approved student health insurance fees for all three campuses for 2011. Only Springfield campus fees increased by 5 percent.
- Approved designs for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at Urbana, which will occupy a site south and west of the Beckman Institute and will complete the enclosure of the Oval Allee of the north Engineering Campus. The building is being funded by state capital appropriation, institutional funds operating budget and gift/endowment funds.