Faculty reps on BOT, and what it’s like without

The CFA Proposal to Select and Diversify the Composition of the University Board of Trustees has two main elements that have been incorporated into the pending legislation, HB4688:
1. Inclusion of faculty as Trustees and
2. Establishing a Trustees Selection Task Force TRUST Force) to receive and review nominations and make recommendations to the Governor. Membership on the TRUST Force would include the chairs of the three campus senates, three acknowledged leaders in education from outside the University of Illinois and four additional persons with impeccable integrity. The credentials of all members of the TRUST Force should be made public to substantiate their requisite experience for this important role.
This call for change embodied in the CFA’s proposal is perhaps best stated in former University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry’s thoughtful essay entitled “Uncertain and Unplanned: The Future of Public Higher Education”, Policy Forum, vol. 17, Institute of Government Public Affairs, University of Illinois, Champaign, 2005. Ikenberry wrote, “Public college and university governing boards need to reflect the diversification in ‘publics’ to which they must now be accountable and responsible. A fresh vision of public university governing structures, consistent with public interest, consistent with the emergence of new stakeholders, and reflective of a clarified ‘state-public university partnership’ or ‘social contract’ needs to be crafted.”
A prime reason for inclusion of faculty on the Board of Trustees is the knowledge they would bring to the table. Higher education is faced with complex problems and wonderful opportunities. Faculty are arguably the constituency that is most familiar with both. As the U of I goes forward it would be a shame, if not foolish, not to include that expertise in the governance of the institution.
In addition, faculty grants contribute more money to the university than State appropriations, yet faculty have zero say in university governance.
Some of the best arguments in favor of having faculty representation on the U of I Board of Trustees also include what has taken place without such representation:
1. Failure to request and obtain appropriate resources from the State of IL over decades, even in times of economic prosperity (source: report of the North Central Commission on Higher Education)
2. Failure to educate IL legislators and IL citizens on the merits and activities of the U of I so that they would champion funds for the University
3. Interference with appointments and ‘questionable’ awarding of contracts
4. Admissions scandal
5. Politicization of the Board – Pay to Play: Recent past Trustees contributed more than
$585,000 to former Governor Blagojevich
6. Transfer of university property to the U of I Foundation that was subsequently sold to donors at below market value
7. Contracts that negate U of I policies. Examples: Contracts with Triple Canopy, Blackwater, and the Academy on Capitalism
8. Silencing dissent
9. Golden parachutes to ‘team players’
10. Increases in tuition while at the same time approving tens of millions of dollars to the Research Park .
11. Imposition of a Fourth Mission on the university, “Economic Development”, arguably, at the expense of the university fulfilling its traditional three missions: teaching, research and service.

– Stephen Kaufman

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