Faculty members want to see detailed academic plans and other information about the possible structure and administration of the Global Campus before the Urbana-Champaign Senate decides whether to endorse President B. Joseph White’s proposal to create the online degree program.
At its Oct. 30 meeting, the senate unanimously endorsed an Oct. 10 letter to White and Chester Gardner, special assistant to the president, from Terry Bodenhorn, chair of the University Senates Conference, that said “we need to see specific examples (of degree and certificate programs) that are both academically sound and realistic before we can endorse the Global Campus proposal.” Bodenhorn requested information such as the mechanisms by which regular faculty members would oversee Global Campus courses and programs without its jeopardizing their research, on-campus teaching and public service responsibilities, particularly if student enrollment in the online program is high; how support services and staffing needs would be met; and whether participation in the Global Campus would count as overload work for faculty members.
In introducing the resolution to endorse Bodenhorn’s letter, Richard Schacht, chair of the General University Policies Committee, said that while there is fundamental agreement among the GUP, the Senate Executive Committee and the senate’s Global Campus Task Force that there’s a need for universities such as the UI to offer such programs, faculty members have unanswered questions about “whether this particular model of delivering online education is the best way that we might be able to do it.”
Although White and Gardner indicated that about a dozen programs have been identified that might be offered, they have not specified which academic units have expressed interest, what programs those would be, how they would be structured and the types of academic personnel who would be delivering them, Schacht said.
“If we are to consider the model that has been proposed, then we need to get some sense of its viability in terms of whether there will be sufficient partnership on the three campuses to make a go of it over the next three or four years” until the Global Campus can obtain accreditation as an independent educational institution and offer programs and degrees under its own auspices, Schacht said. In the first few years, the success of the program would depend upon colleges’ and departments’ willingness to allow their courses to be adapted to the condensed eight-week format that the Global Campus would use.
Provost Linda Katehi, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Chancellor Richard Herman, said that the college deans also have asked to be involved in developing and implementing the Global Campus. A group chaired by Avijit Ghosh, dean of the College of Business, will be meeting with Gardner to discuss the opportunities and the risks involved in the Global Campus, which have been outlined in a document prepared by a group of faculty members and administrators in the College of Education.
Senators raised questions about whether a limited-liability corporation or for-profit company is the best organizational structure for the Global Campus program and why the start-up team has not sought the counsel of faculty members such as those in the department of mathematics, “who have been creating Web-based instruction successfully for decades,” according to senator Peter Loeb, a faculty member in that department.
The senate’s Global Campus Task Force will issue a report analyzing the initiative prior to the senate’s Dec. 4 meeting, at which the senate will vote on whether to endorse White’s proposal to form the Global Campus before the UI Board of Trustees acts on the proposal in January. White’s proposal was deferred until the trustees’ January meeting in response to petitions from the three campus senates, Schacht said.
In other business, the senate
- Passed a proposal to create the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The school would comprise the departments of classics; East Asian languages and cultures; French; Germanic languages and literatures; linguistics; Slavic languages and literatures; Spanish, Italian and Portuguese; the programs in comparative and world literature and for the study of religion; the division of English as an international language; and the Unit for Cinema Studies. The school is being formed as a means to promote and facilitate contact between the units involved and to present their common interests to campus administration and other campus units.
- Endorsed a resolution to form a new campus unit, the Technology Entrepreneur Center. Although the TEC was created in 1999 to enhance the engineering curriculum, it had yet to receive formal approval. The TEC, an interdisciplinary program with seven part-time faculty members, offers on-site and online courses and certificate programs for professional development, hosts outreach activities for students and alumni and hosts the annual V. Dale Cozad Business Plan Competition, and the Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize for Innovation.