BOT hears university fee concerns

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

The Board of Trustees heard concerns from the faculty regarding student fee increases and shared governance at their meeting Friday.

Jemmie Robertson, Faculty Senate chair, spoke to the board on some of these questions and concerns the senate had.

Robertson shared a story of a girl he met while in line for coffee who was visibly upset at the fact that she did not know how she was going to pay her student loans.

“This is unfortunately a story for many graduates around the country now,” Robertson said. “However, I believe she will be successful in her investment and completion of a higher ed degree will pay great dividends in her life both personally and professionally. Yet, are we doing all we can to contain costs for our students?”

Robertson asked the board if we did all we could last spring to contain costs for student fees.

“I believe, and many of my faculty colleagues feel strongly, that the answer to that question is a resounding no,” he said. “The mounting costs of higher education is a national concern, yet we must remember it is also an individual issue for each of our students.”

Robertson also asked how they planned to uphold the principles of shared governance at Eastern.

“Did we uphold those principles of shared governance when the board and president approved substantial fee increases that largely benefited athletics?” Robertson asked. “Please remember that last spring the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate both strongly opposed those increases, yet they were implemented anyway.”

Robertson also asked if they were being fully transparent about how much revenue is being generated by those fees and where they are going.

78 percent of Grant-in-Aid fees goes to athletics, Robertson said.

“As you will recall, the board of trustees approved a 50 percent increase in athletic fees last spring,” Robertson said. “However, when that was proposed, was it clearly presented to you that Eastern’s quote-unquote comparatively low athletic fee did not include the revenue generated from athletics’ substantial Grant-in-Aid fees? Is that shared governance? Is that full transparency? If we can rescind an instructor’s contract, can we not rescind a fee increase?”

Tom Michael, director of athletics, also spoke at the meeting during the president’s report to give a year in review for the athletics department.

Michael said it was a quick and exciting first year for him.

“We have had many successes in facing adversity, and dealt with everything with a very direct approach of finding a correct solution not only that is correct for the present time, but also thinking forward as to how it will impact EIU in the future as well,” Michael said.

He said the student-athletes have performed at a high level academically.

In the fall semester, the overall GPA for all sports was a 3.13. 16 sports had a team GPA of 3.0 or higher and 60 percent of all student athletes had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. In the spring semester, the overall GPA was 3.15, with 17 sports having a 3.0 or higher and 63 percent of student’s athletes having over a 3.0.

Michael said the financial climate at Eastern has had an impact in athletics.

“We have and are fully participating in reducing operating expenses to be fiscally responsible along with all the other units on campus,” Michael said. “We have made significant cuts to appropriated and local budgets by reducing personnel and operating budgets for athletic teams.”

Michael said they are continuing to look at cost-cutting measures in the department to better their efficiency without diminishing the experience for student-athletes.

“We will also continue to work diligently to find other ways to increase our revenue through alumni donors and friends of EIU,” Michael said.

They are also looking at corporate sponsorships and are trying to expand the network of businesses to increase their revenue opportunities.

The board also voted on a new degree program offering a Master of Science in biotechnology and biochemistry.

Provost Blair Lord said biochemistry, biotechnology and anything having to do with health or medical care tends to be of high interest and growing demand among students.

“This program is designed to leverage the resources of our biological sciences unit and our chemistry unit,” Lord said.

The creation of the new degree was discussed at the board retreat this past summer.

The Statement on Intercollegiate Athletics was also reported on.

It is required for the board, the university president and the administration to be responsible for the department of athletics. It must operate with integrity, standards and be fully compliant with the rules and regulations of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Dan Nadler, the vice president of student affairs, said this is has been done since Eastern was a member of the OVC.

The OVC is run by the member institutions, their presidents and their director of athletics.

“The intention of this is to be a reminder of the importance of being in compliance and the outbreak in a great deal of courage and integrity academically and outside the classroom,” Nadler said.

The members of the board questioned whether the OVC was a good conference for them to compete in.

Nadler said they had been competitive in previous years, either winning the Commissioner’s Cup or finishing in second place.

“We also tend to finish in the top one or two in regards to academic achievement as well,” he said. “The Ohio Valley Conference is very competitive and welcoming to Eastern Illinois University.”

The board also voted to name the School of Technology Conference Room in Klehm Hall after Dr. Deborah Woodley, an emerita faculty member.

Woodley received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Master of Science and Master of Technology from Eastern, and recently retired from being the school of technology department chair.

She had been working at Eastern since 1986, teaching classes and eventually being appointed coordinator of the creative organizational studies program.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]