A faster decision is not necessarily better
September 10, 2009
The new Board of Trustees’ members will be officially sworn in and all nine members will meet — but not for the first time — to discuss an overloaded agenda with resolution items Thursday; the most important item being the timely resolution concerning admissions reform. This particular resolution regarding admissions will shape the future admissions process for the University. The resolution directs administrators to eliminate the Category I system and systems that give preferential treatment to students. The premise of the resolution is similar what the Illinois Admissions Review Commission recommended in its Aug. 6 report.
While admission reform is timely and needs to be handled with extreme caution, it absolutely cannot, and should not be rushed — which is exactly what it seems to be. Even before the new Board of Trustees members were sworn in, they were already discussing this resolution. This resolution should not have been talked about behind closed doors — especially not before the board members were sworn in. Where’s the transparency in that? More importantly, where’s the legality?
Before Thursday, the newly appointed trustees had no authority in the matter. As they’re being sworn in, we can only wonder what they’ve discussed without public or faculty input. Even more troubling is the scheduled 30 minutes for public input during Thursday’s meeting. A University with more than 40,000 students is giving the public 30 minutes to speak up. Is that because they have already made their decisions or because they don’t want to hear our opinions?
To add to its troubles, the new board is forced to address issues from the previous board.
Today’s agenda includes an obligatory vote for a chairman, as well as voting on this admissions reform resolution. All items on the agenda are integral for the University to get back on the right track. However, we don’t know the new trustees very well at all — and they don’t know us. On their very first day they’re expected to vote and make the big decisions that will inevitably shape the new board and how our University operates. They simply have too much on their plate. We appreciate that they are attempting to solve these issues sooner than later, but the admissions reform resolution was amended into the agenda Wednesday. Additionally, the initial copy of the agenda was released last Friday. A rushed decision or proposition will only further delay any future progress.
The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12. While decisions might be rushed Thursday, they’d be put on the back burner for too long if they were postponed until the next meeting.
For that reason, the board should call for a special session. They should reconvene between today and November and decide the future of President B. Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman.
Perhaps after Thursday’s meeting, we will be able to grasp an idea on how the new trustees will vote on an even more vital part of our University — the future of our leaders and highest appointed officials.
We look forward to a future where Illinois’ admission process will be transparent; where we can respect our leaders and where the students will be put first. That outlook may not be for a long time, but the decisions that are made today will shape our tomorrows. The Board of Trustees needs to listen to public input and do something the former board did not: Remain loyal to the students.