A proposed conference center project at the Urbana campus was given the go-ahead by the UI Board of Trustees when it met Sept. 8 at the Illini Union in Urbana. The $11 million center, to be built south of Assembly Hall, would be connected to a $15.5 million hotel and restaurant complex planned at the site.
Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman told the board that the Champaign Chamber of Commerce has agreed to provide up to $3 million for construction of the conference center. Herman called it a programmatic investment that will help attract national conferences.
Trustee Niranjan Shah approved the project contingent upon the board receiving revenue and cost projections.
The trustees also approved architect and engineering firms for the design/development portion of Phase One of the Memorial Stadium renovations and for the $4.68 million South Campus chilled-water improvements project at Urbana.
Shah expressed concern about keeping the construction costs within budget.
“Too many times these projects go beyond budget and there’s no incentive to keep costs down,” Shah said.
UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning updated the board on the International Village project at her campus, a complex that would include student housing, restaurants and privately funded, faith-related amenities. The complex is being planned on what currently is a 7 1/2-acre parking lot bound by Taylor Street, Roosevelt Road, and Halsted and Morgan streets, an area of increasing importance since Roosevelt Road is becoming a major transportation artery, Manning said. An underground parking structure is being considered for the site, Manning said, since the proposed development would eliminate about 950 spaces.
Board chair Lawrence Eppley encouraged developers to “dream big, really big on this” as it could be a vital project for the campus.
Alcohol sales will be allowed at the UIC Pavilion during 20 games of the Chicago Storm soccer team and the WNBA professional women’s basketball under a proposal passed by the trustees. The Illinois Legislature passed an amendment to the Illinois Liquor Control Act that was signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich and enacted July 29 to allow alcohol sales at the games, but the trustees’ approval also was required, Manning said.
Manning and her staff told the board that alcoholic beverages will be sold by ARAMARK Corporation, which will assume sole liability. The university will receive a portion of the net revenue, which will be used for operation and maintenance costs at the Pavilion.
The board approved an operating budget request for FY07 of $83.6 million, a 7 percent increase of the $3.5 billion operating budget for the current fiscal year that was also approved at the meeting. The FY07 increase would be funded through new state appropriations, tuition increases and reallocations, said Chet Gardner, vice president for academic affairs, who presented the proposal.
Of the new funds requested, $61 million would be used to strengthen academic quality at Illinois by hiring additional teachers, enhancing compensation for faculty and staff members, and expanding critical academic and service programs.
In FY07 the university plans to launch a five-year program that would add 500 full-time-equivalent faculty members, 375 FTE teaching assistants and 190 FTE lecturers and instructors by 2011. The additional faculty members would enable the UI to offer about 2,500 additional course sections per year and reduce student-faculty ratios.
The operating budget request included $6 million for deferred maintenance projects, which would augment $20 million in the proposed capital budget slated for addressing the $600 million backlog of projects.
The top priority in the $335 million capital budget proposal was a $21.4 million request for funding to repair and renovate deteriorating facilities at the three campuses, followed by the $20 million deferred maintenance project funding. The Lincoln Hall remodeling at Urbana, for which $50.8 million was requested, was the third priority, followed by a $26.4 million building infrastructure renewal project at UIC. The budget proposal also called for $131.3 million to continue the South Farms relocation and construction project at Urbana.
About the FY07 request, Gardner said: “This is a realistic needs assessment.”
The proposed budget will be sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, which will make its own funding recommendations to the Illinois Legislature.
- Trustees passed a proposal to reduce the dollar limits for purchases, leases, contracts and other actions requiring board approval. Trustee Marjorie Sodemann questioned why the limits were being lowered and asked if anyone had been abusing the current policy. Trustee Frances Carroll responded: “It gives us an opportunity to see where our dollars are going.”
The board approved a new general education curriculum for UIS, which plans to admit 180 students per year under it beginning in fall 2006. UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen praised the move, saying it would help the campus realize the vision of making UIS a four-year university.
- John DeNardo was appointed chief executive officer of HealthCare System, Chicago. DeNardo was previously the executive director of UI Hospital and Clinics and associate vice chancellor for health affairs.
- Bill Riley was appointed interim vice chancellor for student affairs at Urbana effective Sept. 9 until a permanent vice chancellor is appointed. Riley succeeds Patricia Askew, who retired Aug. 31. Riley will retain his current designations as associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, and adjunct associate professor of educational organization and leadership.
- CORE Construction, Morton, Ill., was awarded a general construction contract for the renovation of Noyes Laboratory, which will add a new lecture hall, increase library space and create improved organic chemistry teaching laboratories.
- Gilbane Building Co., Chicago, also was approved as construction manager for the proposed $62 million College of Business facility at Urbana.
- President Joe White and Herman presented Michael Grossman, a professor of animal sciences, with a plaque expressing appreciation for his service with the University Senates Conference and the Senate Executive Committee of the Urbana-Champaign Senate. After presenting reports on the activities of the SEC and the Senates Conference, Grossman urged the board to retire Chief Illiniwek, saying that the controversy negatively affects faculty members and overshadows educational achievement. Five people spoke out against the Chief during the public comment portion of the meeting, including Wanda Pillow, director of Native American House and of the American Indian Studies Program.In addition to the seven guidelines adopted at its Sept. 8 meeting, the board adopted an eighth guideline for the consensus process on Chief Illiniwek: “Recognize the university’s goals of having high integrity athletic programs, winning teams and athletes who are successful students and who have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels.”