Faculty Senate criticizes University of Illinois proposal

Samuel Nusbaum, Administration Reporter


The Faculty Senate debated a resolution condemning the University of Illinois system for a funding proposal it sent to Springfield and set a date to discuss the vitalization project at its meeting Tuesday.

Also brought up were concerns about the rising cost of health care.

Senate member Billy Hung introduced the University of Illinois resolution to the senate.

This resolution comes after a proposal the University of Illinois backed that would guarantee them funding for the next five years if the university meets certain criteria. These criteria include enrolling a certain number of Illinois residents, putting aside money for scholarships and maintaining a certain amount of international students. The amount of money the university would receive would be based off its 2015 fiscal year budget and adjusted for inflation.

The resolution would state that the faculty at Eastern “condemns the cynical and self-serving maneuver of the University of Illinois system” and that they “demand the state of Illinois fulfill its duty of adequately providing affordable public higher education funding to its residents.”

In the resolution, it said Eastern faculty members seek solidarity with other regional state universities in Illinois.

Hung said he would be open to turning the resolution into a letter so it would be easier to read, and the senate could send it out to newspapers to reprint.

Hung suggested it would be a good idea to reach out to other faculty senates across the state and have them talk to their colleagues to raise awareness about the University of Illinois’ proposal.

“I want to alert people to the fact that is alluded to in a news article, which is that (Gov. Bruce) Rauner has been talking about performance-based education since before he came into office. So, this is the same song with different lyrics…This is not going away, it just depends how much force there is behind pushing it,” Hung said.

Hung said what the University of Illinois proposed is not helping the other state universities get funding.

Senate member Amy Rosenstein said a way to draw attention to the University of Illinois proposal would be to write an open letter, with multiple administration and faculty members from multiple universities, and get it published in as many newspapers as possible.

“The resolutions are fine but when they go to someone, they go ‘meh,”’ Rosenstein said. “You write a letter to our legislator and they go ‘meh.’”

The senate decided to table the discussion until next semester.

Jonathan Blitz, president of Eastern’s Chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, addressed the senate about insurance premium increases. The increases will be as high as $3,000 to $5,000.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest trade union of state workers in the United States, was unable to reach an agreement with the Governor’s administration about its contract.

Since talks are now at an impasse, Rauner is able to impose his terms on the contract, including an increase in health care costs for state employees.

Whatever AFSCME bargains for as far as health care goes, all state workers get the same deal.

Hung said it would be a good idea to make a half sheet to send out to their colleagues to get them informed about this increase and get them to act against it.

“I think education is very important, I don’t think everyone on campus is aware of this going on right now,” he said.

Blitz said another avenue would be to put pressure on the administration to get something done, as they “have the ear of Rauner.”

Senate Chair Jemmie Robertson led a discussion on a possible meeting once the senate comes back on campus from winter break. This meeting would be to talk about the recommendations from the vitalization project Eastern president David Glassman will receive Dec. 15. Glassman said he would put these recommendations up on the project’s webpage at the beginning of the spring semester.

The vitalization project was introduced during the State of the University Address, consisting of nine workgroups that each specialize in different areas of the university, such as athletics and marketing.

The senate wants to hear from Workgroup No. 7 the most, which is looking at academic programs, as it has concerns on what that workgroup was using to evaluate programs.

Senate member Jason Waller said the senate should not be afraid to have their say.

“We do not need an initiation to involve ourselves, so let us just involve ourselves,” Waller said.

The senate voted to host a meeting Jan. 10 to discuss the vitalization project.


Samuel Nusbaum can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].