The UI Board of Trustees met at the Chicago campus on March 9 with half the members attending by conference call from the Urbana campus. The special meeting was convened because there were too many items that needed timely attention prior to the next regular meeting on April 11.
The board approved various appointments and phases of construction projects on each of the campuses.
At the Urbana campus, the board approved the appointment of eight faculty members as associates and eight faculty members as fellows in the Center for Advanced Study for the 2006-2007 academic year. The appointments stem from an annual competition and allow faculty members one semester of release time for creative work.
“These are all worthy scholars,” said Chancellor Richard Herman.
“This is an exciting concept,” said Kenneth Schmidt. “We’re very pleased with the appointments.”
The board approved a $770,000 roofing contract to Henson Robinson Company, Springfield, part of the final phase of a multiphase renovation and expansion project for the Intramural-Physical Education Building and the Campus Recreation Center East. The final phase of work at IMPE includes renovating 30,000 square feet of strength and conditioning space; enclosing ground level space at the existing tennis courts up to the existing roof level; and installing a 1/6-mile track, a climbing wall, three additional basketball/volleyball courts and seven multipurpose rooms. The SportWell space and locker rooms will be modified, and the building will be expanded to provide new office space and a snack bar area with an instructional kitchen.
In February 2005, the board approved a final budget of $82.7 million for the Campus Recreation renovation and expansion project after construction bids received in the fall of 2004 exceeded the original project budget of $77.6 million. The roofing work will be paid from the proceeds of a future sale of auxiliary facilities system revenue bonds.
The board also approved relocating the Poultry Research Facilities at Urbana to accommodate expansion of the Atkins Tennis Center. The $2.8 million poultry project will include five buildings, two of which will be used for highly controlled, intensive and/or specialized research, with approximately 16,6000 square feet of new space and approximately 2,800 square feet of remodeled space.
A proposal from the president’s office to hire the executive recruitment firm of Russell Reynolds at an estimated $125,000 to help fill the newly created position of vice president and chief financial officer for the university also received the board’s approval.
President B. Joseph White said the outlook for governmental funding of higher education during the next fiscal year is cautiously optimistic. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has proposed a modest 1.5 percent increase in the higher education budget during FY07, which begins July 1.
“My hope is that this is the beginning of a turnaround for public support in higher education,” White said, and added that he is concerned that the university remain accessible to all students, which can be compromised during tough financial times.
“The University of Illinois deserves the support of the state,” White said. “I’d say with guarded optimism that finances are turning around.”
Among items approved for the Chicago campus was a proposal to retain the law firm of Stadheim and Grear on a contingency fee basis to enforce the university’s intellectual property rights with regard to a UIC-developed vaccine. An audit of licensee Organon Teknika Corp. conducted by the accounting firm of McGladrey & Pullen during 2005 at the request of the Chicago campus Office of Technology Management revealed that during a three-year period Organon Teknika Corporation underpaid its royalties to the university on sales of the vaccine by more than $2.5 million. The board previously had approved retaining Stadheim & Grear in July 2005 to pursue license negotiations with various companies that had infringed on a patent portfolio donated to the university by Procter & Gamble Co., action that is expected to bring “significant revenues” to the university, according to the proposal.