Senate votes to dissolve ties with Academy on Capitalism

The Urbana-Champaign Senate voted 71-29 at its first general meeting of the semester Monday to recommend the University formally dissolve its relations with a fundraising organization called the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Foundation.

The resolution, while not binding, is a suggestion to President Michael Hogan, and he will decide whether to forward it to the Board of Trustees.

According to the academy’s website, it is a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance research and instruction about principles of limited government and capitalism.

Joyce Tolliver, chair of the U-C Senate Executive Committee, said the academy has a tax-exempt status as a “supporting organization,” which it is able to achieve through the University’s tax-exempt status.

While the organization operates with specific ideological goals, Nicholas Burbules, member of the Senate Executive Committee, said the academy’s point of view was not the core issue.

“It is about a certain kind of relationship,” he said. “A relationship that takes credibility and reputation from us, but doesn’t give us governance or oversight over what they’re actually doing.”

A similar resolution was also passed on Sep. 22 by the University Senates Conference, which is comprised of elected members from the University’s three campus senates.

Even if the relationship is formally dissolved, the academy could still continue to donate to the University.

“I think this entity has every right to establish itself as an advocacy group for conservative ideas, and I think they have every right to raise money and to disperse their money as any other foundation does,” Burbules said. “What I don’t think that they have the right to do is to use University resources and/or the University’s reputation as part of their fundraising.”

The resolution states a similar decision was made in 2008 by the senate, former Chancellor Richard Herman and a campus committee, but the relationship continued without the University’s consent.

Charles Roseman, member of the senate and assistant professor in anthropology, voted in favor of the resolution.

“I suppose that in the end, it has to do with how agreements are reached at this University and whether or not it can be done through a back door or if we need to do it in the light of day,” Roseman said. “I’m a firm advocate of doing it in the light of day.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Tolliver addressed a concern that the senate should not single out only the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Foundation.

“No one here would say that we can’t address anything until we address everything,” she said.

She later added during discussion of the resolution that senators have been encouraged to forward any concerns about other organizations that may not be operating in accordance with the University’s mission.

The senate, operating under Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard Wheeler in Interim Chancellor Robert Easter’s absence, also approved several internal changes. These include modifications the Illinois Student Senate approved last semester regarding student election rules.

Tolliver also addressed the administrative restructuring — the addition of a vice president for Health Affairs and changes in some administrative titles — that Hogan proposed at the Sep. 23 Board of Trustees meeting. The board requested the University Senates Conference have its recommendation prepared by the next board meeting on Nov. 18.

Tolliver said the deadline is a “very ambitious time frame,” for something that would normally take several months. The U-C Senate was asked to forward its recommendation to the University Senates Conference by Nov. 9, which will require the senate to gather for additional meetings dedicated to the administrative changes.

These meetings will take place every Monday beginning Oct. 11 until Nov. 8. The first will be open to the entire community to discuss the current administrative structure.