From AP - News Headlines -

U of I Officials Try to Remain Competitive

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees Thursday finalized its fiscal 2011 budget of $4.8 billion, which is a 3.9% increase over fiscal 2010.

At the meeting, U of I President Michael Hogan said the school's image has been badly damaged by last year's admissions scandal as well as the state's financial crisis.

A recent U.S. News and World Report poll shows the U of I's Urbana campus dropped out of the survey's top 10 ranking as one of the nation's best public universities. At the University of Illinois Board of Trustees' regular meeting Thursday, Hogan said the most striking trend in the report is that the U of I is not improving as fast as other schools.

"So, we need to understand what contributed to this decline," he said. "Cause believe me all good things come to highly ranked institutions."

Hogan said the U of I must concentrate on winning over transfer students who spend a year or two at a community college.

The U.S. News and World Report ranking indicates faculty resources are down at the Urbana campus. Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert Easter said last year, 25 faculty members earning around $106,000 left for better paying jobs.

"Our faculty are held in great esteem by institutions across the country," said Easter.

Hogan said the state's uncertain budget has left the university searching for other revenue streams. About 550 employees took advantage of the voluntary separation and retirement programs, which Easter estimates will save the university about $1.4 million a month.

In June, an Administrative Review and Restructuring (AAR) work group appointed by former President Stanley Ikenberry recommended that the university improve efforts to run its health programs. Following the recommendation, the U of I is considering a plan to hire a new vice president to oversee health services at its three campuses, and administer college of medicine sites in Chicago, Urbana, Rockford and Peoria.

The recommendation to hire a new administrator comes amid sluggish state support with about a $245 million backlog in payments to the university. The U of I has taken steps in recent months to consolidate programs as a way to cut costs, but Hogan said adding this new position would help fulfill the U of I's commitment to health sciences

"Most universities have long ago recognized the size, the complexity of the clinical enterprise, and have responded to it through a single vice president for health affairs, who among other things, can integrate that enterprise across all the campuses and all of its various sites," he said.

Hogan said about a third of the university's budget is dedicated to clinical support. The U of I Board of Trustees would have to vote to add another vice president.

At the Thursday meeting with the Board, Hogan also suggested re-naming the chancellors at the three campuses as vice presidents to re-affirm their role in helping him set a university-wide agenda.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)

Categories: Education, Government, Politics