A committee is being assembled to advise Chancellor Richard Herman about parking-related issues such as implementing salary-based rates, enhancing safety, and reducing vehicular traffic on campus and promoting “green” transportation modes. The Urbana-Champaign Senate approved a resolution from the Committee on Campus Operations to form an advisory committee when the senate met Feb. 25. The advisory committee, which will be charged with developing short-term and long-term parking policies by January 2009, will include faculty and staff members, graduate and undergraduate students as well as experts in business/economics and sustainability and a member of the Illinois Center for Transportation.
The UI currently is engaged in collective bargaining with some of its labor unions and plans to implement a salary-based parking-fee system for certain union members. The comprehensive policy to be developed by the committee also will address issues such as increasing the frequency of shuttles from remote lots to central campus, providing occasional access to employees who do not regularly drive to campus, allowing drivers to access multiple parking areas per permit and increasing the cost of permits for high-demand parking areas.
During his opening remarks, Herman told the senate of his intention to attend the Feb. 26 study session of the Champaign City Council “to convince the council and the liquor commissioner, Mayor Jerry Schweighart, to act in the best interests of the community” by assessing penalties to bar owners during the annual bar-sponsored drinking promotion called Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. Bar owners, he said, do not face any penalties while students cited for underage drinking face $300 fines.
In the past, the event has incurred thousands of dollars in expenses for the UI and the cities of Champaign and Urbana for police and medical personnel services as well as property damage, disruption of classes and the towing of hundreds of illegally parked cars.
Herman said the celebration’s founder, bar owner Scott Cochrane, planned to extend the event from one to two days this year – Feb. 29 and March 1 – and to bus participants in from nearby colleges and universities, promulgating negative images of the UI and the surrounding community as destinations for unconstrained drinking.
“We are allowing Mr. Cochrane to define who we are, and that’s unacceptable,” Herman said. “I may be the chancellor of this university, but I am also a citizen of this town, a parent and a grandparent and for this to go on without the city’s taking anything related to a strong stance to me is totally unacceptable.”
To help constrain the celebration, Schweighart issued an emergency order prohibiting licensed liquor establishments from serving alcohol before 11 a.m. on Feb. 29 and March 1, prohibiting sales of pitchers and shots, and making it illegal for private residences to possess more than one keg. In addition to increased presence by UI, Champaign and Urbana police, the Champaign Fire Department planned to monitor facilities for overcrowding and life safety code compliance as well as load limits on balconies at private residences.
A working group comprising staff members from the provost’s office and various colleges and the Center for Teaching Excellence is exploring the possibility of implementing a program review process. The group, which has reviewed similar processes at peer institutions, is developing a concept statement to present to the Council of Deans later this semester. If the council is supportive, the group will consult extensively with appropriate senate committees and with faculty and staff members about the review process with the goal of having procedures in place by the fall semester. The first program reviews are expected to be initiated as early as the spring 2009 semester. Herman thanked the department of computer science for volunteering to be the inaugural unit to undergo review, a process that will comprise internal and external feedback and be managed by the provost’s office.
“It is, in the end, about academic quality; it is not about resources,” Herman said.
The senate approved a proposal sponsored by the Educational Policy Committee to rename the College of Communications. The College of Media more accurately reflects the college’s teaching, research and service missions as well as shifts occurring in the world of media. According to the proposal from Ronald Yates, dean of the college, College of Media was one of the top three choices of both faculty and staff members and more than 900 alumni who responded to a survey.
In response to a question from James Barrett, history, Herman said the committee that is examining the agreement between the UI Foundation and the group endowing the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government is making progress and expects to share a redrafted agreement with him and the senate soon.