At its Nov. 13 meeting in Springfield, the UI Board of Trustees authorized university officials to seek separate accreditation for Global Campus.
Separate accreditation is needed so Global Campus can develop the kinds of high-demand, affordable baccalaureate-completion programs sought by community college graduates that will allow Global Campus to achieve its enrollment, program and revenue goals, President B. Joseph White said.
If the program is accredited under its own auspices, officials could work directly with faculty members and others to create the types of programs that will allow Global Campus to flourish and broaden access in accordance with the UI’s land-grant mission, White said.
Global Campus currently offers five degrees, four related certificates, and 10 e-learning certificate courses primarily aimed at community college instructors. Initial enrollment when Global Campus opened in January was 10 students; its current enrollment is 238 students.
Chester Gardner, special assistant to the president for Global Campus, said that plans to begin 12 more programs over the next 2 1/2 years are achievable, but for Global Campus to break even during 2011 as planned, it needs to enroll 1,850 students and to offer 18 degree programs.
Elliot Kaufman, chair of the University Senates Conference and a UIC faculty member, reiterated the support of UIC’s administrators and faculty members and offered his personal endorsement as well during the discussion.
“I believe a successful Global Campus is necessary for the UI to fulfill its mission in this current and foreseeable environment,” Kaufman said. “I believe that independent accreditation provides the best opportunity for the Global Campus to succeed (and that) accreditation ensures high quality programs and academic rigor; it’s not a shortcut. … Continued dialogue through shared governance will assure that faculty concerns are heard and resolved.”
Trustee Robert Vickrey, who said he would have voted in favor of accreditation and was disappointed that it was not on the trustees’ agenda during the morning session, said: “I would be in favor of moving forward with accreditation, but if it doesn’t work, there will come a point where we have to make a decision and close it down.”
Following discussion, the trustees redrafted an agenda item that authorized employee tuition waivers and discounts so that it also authorized officials to seek accreditation for Global Campus. One of the three residential campuses will sponsor Global Campus programs during the two-year interim period.
However, the trustees wanted to ensure that faculty members’ concerns were addressed, and White agreed to meet with them and the trustees and report back by mid-December.
The Urbana-Champaign Senate’s decision not to support a statement from the Senate Executive Committee that expressed cautionary support for separate accreditation at the senate’s Nov. 3 meeting reflected senators’ wishes to have questions about statutory compliance, shared governance and other significant issues clarified before proceeding, said Nicholas Burbules, SEC chair. “We’ve always been the friendly skeptics. We want it to succeed. We are not anti-Global Campus, but we have concerns.”
While community college officials “enthusiastically embraced” the Global Campus model as a means for students to attain UI degrees, they also indicated that Global Campus needed to broaden its array of degrees and decrease tuition for its baccalaureate-completion programs. Current tuition for the entire bachelor of business administration degree is $31,860, and $18,495 for the bachelor of science in nursing degree.
With base funding provided by a line of credit with the university, Global Campus also was awarded two grants totaling $1.3 million from the Lumina Foundation for Education in Indianapolis, a $300,000 grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Education-Bauman Moscow Technical University e-Learning Initiative.