Interim Chancellor Barbara J. Wilson said removing the U. of I. from the American Association of University Professors censure list continues to be a top concern on campus and a top priority of her administration.
Wilson was asked about censure and the university's efforts to resolve the Steven Salaita lawsuit at the Urbana-Champaign Senate-sponsored annual faculty meeting Oct. 26.
"I've been spending a lot of time talking about that," she said. "I've been trying hard to communicate to the campus often and widely."
The interim chancellor said she had met with local AAUP leaders and had discussed censure options with national AAUP officials.
"We need to do a little restoring of trust" has been the consensus opinion, she said. "We're not in the best place and we need to think about how to work together. Working as a team is a hallmark of Illinois."
Wilson said she couldn't speak specifically about the Salaita case since it is currently being litigated, but said the university is "working very actively" to settle it.
She said faculty members and administrative leaders have already addressed hiring and shared governance processes, but there still may be work to do. She said it's important for campus constituents to work together and keep the dialogue going.
"It's my goal to get this behind us," she said.
Wilson said the campus continues to deliver academic success. She gave a litany of examples of academic successes, despite many distractions.
She said the state budget stalemate continues to threaten progress, but Illinois is taking steps to reduce impact on student learning, while still offering programs to transform the learning process.
To offset funding challenges, she said there are plans to expand revenue-generating programs, to consolidate administrative functions and information technology services, and to increase fundraising.
The IT changes alone could save $16 million to $24 million annually.
She said the university already has been able to increase scholarship money and hopes to do more.
She said the newly opened outreach offices in India and China had been put "on hold" until the funding environment improves. The offices will not be closed, but may not be fully staffed.
Though campus academic enterprises are being protected, Wilson said leaders are nonetheless being asked "to do the same with a little less."
The university also is offering more summer online courses, an expanding list of winter break courses and a growing list of self-supported master's programs.
"I think we've been making progress," she said.
She cited the pilot Grand Challenge learning initiative as one of the campus's transformative educational initiatives, with the program using academic tracks that promote cross-disciplinary undergraduate learning. She said the program, which features small classroom counts, will expand from six to 27 courses this spring.
"We're opening the floodgates," she said of the expansion.
Wilson said work on the Carle Illinois College of Medicine continues to move forward, with the requisite agreements nearly finalized. The next steps include appointing a dean's search committee, adopting a curriculum and seeking accreditation.