The Committee on the Educational Effect of Chief Illiniwek has outlined a proposed plan for conducting an empirical study of how the UI’s athletic symbol affects the educational climate on campus, O. Vernon Burton, chair of the Senate Executive Committee, told the Urbana-Champaign Senate at its meeting Dec. 5.
The Committee on the Educational Effect of Chief Illiniwek, which Chancellor Richard Herman created in March, submitted its report to Herman and Burton Nov. 28 and proposed a “multi-phase investigation” that would include surveys and individual and group interviews with current, prospective and former faculty members; undergraduate and graduate students; campus leaders and staff members as well as alumni, community members and officials at peer institutions. The committee recommended that the study begin early in the spring semester, starting with Web-based surveys of randomly selected current faculty members, administrators and students. Departing faculty members and graduating students, prospective students who were admitted but did not enroll, and faculty members who declined employment offers also would be polled to determine if the Chief influenced their decisions.
To determine if the Chief influences high school students’ perceptions of the UI and students’ likelihood of attending Illinois, the committee suggested conducting interviews with high school students in select communities.
Burton said that the SEC would meet with the committee and Herman to discuss the report. The SEC also planned to meet with Herman during the week of Dec. 5 to discuss the strategic plan for the Urbana campus, Burton said.
Abbas Aminmansour, chair of the educational policy committee, invited senators to attend a public forum at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Engineering Science building and to send him their comments about a proposed merger of the department of mechanical and industrial engineering and theoretical and applied mechanics.
- Jesse Delia, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said that the search for a provost – as well as other searches for deans and directors – is proceeding and likely would be concluded within the next few weeks.
- Delia said that administrators are tracking how a new law that became effective July 1 is affecting retirees of the State Universities Retirement System. The new law – which, among other changes, eliminated the money purchase formula as a method of calculating annuities – does not seem to be affecting retirees as much as was expected because of the way SURS is interpreting the new guidelines, Delia said. Associate provost Margaret Rawles and the senate’s Faculty Benefits Committee will host a forum about retirement benefits in the near future, Delia said.
- The senate passed proposed academic calendars for the 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years as well as proposed revisions to the policies governing the academic calendar. The revised guidelines moved the fall semester reading day from Saturday to Thursday, removed Saturday as a day for scheduling final exams and established the start date for the fall semester on the Monday 13 weeks before Thanksgiving week or the Monday 12 weeks before Thanksgiving week to ensure the semester not begin before Aug. 22, a current practice which also was codified by the revisions. Senator Al Kagan, University Library, objected to the proposed calendars and wanted them sent back to the Educational Policy Committee because he believed that the fall semester is being convened too early and often conflicts with faculty members’ other commitments, such as professional meetings and research activities. Aminmansour responded that a task group of 12 people had reviewed recommendations regarding the calendar and “felt this was the best recommendation they could bring to you.” The only way to start the semester later and still adhere to policy governing the number of instructional days would be to reduce the number of days in the semester, perhaps by reducing the Thanksgiving break.
- Burton encouraged Senators to attend the seminar on shared governance that will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Jan 23 at Levis Faculty Center.