At its first meeting of the 2006-2007 academic year, the Urbana-Champaign Senate unanimously passed a resolution asking President B. Joseph White to suspend the submission of the Global Campus proposal and the UI Board of Trustees to defer action on the proposed online degree program at least until the end of the fall semester. The senate, which met Sept. 25 at Levis Faculty Center, requested that the senates at the three UI campuses be allowed a reasonable period of time to consider the proposal and formulate recommendations.
Richard Schacht, chair of the General University Policy Committee, introduced the resolution, which was supported by the GUP, the Senate Executive Committee, the Senate Educational Policy Committee and the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
“It may be there are good and sufficient reasons for the university to do what it proposes in the (UI Global Campus Initiative Final) report, and to commit itself to doing whatever it takes to make (it) succeed,” Schacht said. “But it is no small thing, and it is certain to affect our own campus and the university in many ways.”
The resolution followed a Sept. 6 letter to White and Chester Gardner, special assistant to the president, from Terry Bodenhorn, chair of the University Senates Conference. Bodenhorn questioned the wisdom and appropriateness of establishing the Global Campus without adequate safeguards to protect academic integrity, staffing quality and degree offerings and without assurance that the Global Campus would not become a financial and staffing burden.
Bodenhorn’s letter and the resolution said that establishing a campus or university-level unit without giving the three campus senates adequate time to deliberate and offer their advice violated the University Statutes.
Joseph Finnerty, finance, said that it was unacceptable that there would be no voting faculty members on the board of managers of the for-profit company that would be formed to administer the Global Campus, if plans proceed in accordance with the recommendations contained in the final report.
“It would be very useful to see as part of the plan that this new entity would be covered by the University Statutes in anything to do with an educational policy,” Finnerty said. “If it’s not done, I think we’re just fooling ourselves that this is going to be a successful endeavor.”
In a Sept. 22 letter to Bodenhorn, President White and Gardner wrote that they are conferring with the deans and provosts at all three campuses and thus far have identified about a dozen academic programs that might be offered. Tenured faculty members at the three campuses would design the programs, help develop online courses, establish requirements for student admissions and instructor credentialing, oversee and periodically evaluate the Global Campus and be encouraged – and offered financial incentives – to teach the courses.
Tenure-related issues as well as shared governance processes are among several key academic issues to be addressed before the Global Campus receives accreditation, the letter said. White and Gardner proposed a deadline of December 2008 for resolving those issues.
Chancellor Richard Herman said that the Global Campus “has been the cause of considerable consternation,” and added: “I think there is a noble idea here. … I think the goal of the effort is to make what we have to offer – with the quality that we offer it – more accessible. It’s up to us to see if we can meet that challenge and how large an enterprise we can, and should, undertake at this time. This body needs to be counted on to help guide the future of this institution.”
The SEC and the Global Campus Task Force will host a town hall meeting about the Global Campus from 9-11 a.m. Oct. 16 in Room 1025, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
In other business, Herman reported that the freshman enrollment of 7,180 was very close to projections for the fall semester 2006, and that minority enrollment reached an all-time high of 14 percent African-American students and 19 percent Latino students. Administrators are working with the colleges to finalize their strategic plans and intend to have “full debate on many issues,” Herman said. During AY06-07, administrators will focus heavily on improving the educational experience for undergraduates and integrating student life with learning.
Nicholas Burbules, SEC vice chair, is chairing the Senate Review Committee. SEC chair Vernon Burton urged senators to review the recommendations in the previous five reviews, which will be posted on the senate’s Web site, www.senate.uiuc.edu, and encouraged senators to suggest means for improving shared governance on campus.
The senate also approved two proposals. One proposal replaces the existing eight concentration areas under the business administration major in the department of business administration with five bachelor of science majors; another proposal establishes four specializations in the master of social work program.