Educators unite to improve higher education

By Stephanie Taylor

The Illinois Board of Higher Education met Tuesday morning to discuss educational issues that affect the state’s public and private school sectors.

James L. Kaplan, chairman of the board, called the meeting to order and briefly went over the day’s agenda. Issues brought up at the meeting included grant allocation for minority transfer centers, approval for degree programs at community colleges and independent schools and approval for non-instructed projects.

Stan Ikenberry, regent professor and president emeritus at the University, examined the three main questions facing higher education today. The questions included: “Is higher education in trouble, does it matter and what can we do about it?”

The public doesn’t seem to notice the problems of higher education today, he said.

“The average citizen looks at our campuses … at the green grass, magnificent buildings, and the abundance of students – so from the optics it’s difficult to see that anyone’s in trouble,” he said.

A major problem for higher education is the state budget’s decreased funding over the past 20 years. He firmly believes that higher education “matters more than anything” and that a good education is the best investment anyone can make financially, Ibsenberry said. He believes it’s important for the board to inform society of the benefits of higher education.

The board consists of 15 members. Matt DeRosa, junior in LAS, was elected the student board member for the Student Advisory Committee, whose goal is to represent the concerns of the students of Illinois by serving as the primary connection between the students and the board.

The committee met last weekend at Northeastern Illinois University to discuss issues on the board’s agenda. Denise Kozolowski, senior in LAS at Dominican University, is the committee’s executive chairperson. The committee is comprised of 10 students from public schools, 12 students from community colleges, and 11 students from private schools.

“Illinois is one of the very few state groups that incorporate all three sectors,” Kozolowski said.

It is Kozolowski’s job to write the report over viewing the committee members’ opinions on the issues and to present them to the Board.

It is DeRosa’s duty to elaborate on the report in front of the board if the committee wishes.

“At the meetings I represent the SAC as a whole,” DeRosa said. “I try to express beyond what is given in the report in a discussion aspect.”

At the meeting, Kozolowski stressed the importance of student input on the non-instructional capital project for Western Illinois University. Western needs approval for this project by the board in order to build a new building on campus.

Kozolowski brought up how originally, the Western Illinois Student Government Organization believed fees funding this project would be used to install a new sprinkler system. After the sprinklers were installed, the revenues from the fee would be used to fund other campus projects. However, the new sprinkler system was not included as a part of the non-instructional project.

“We stress the importance of all institutions involving student input not only when creating student fees but altering them as well,” Kozolowski said.

The non-instructional project for Western Illinois University was approved.

Other highlights of the meeting included approval of associate degrees for public community colleges such as Joliet Junior College, Kishwaukee College and Lewis and Clark Community College, among others.

Private schools, such as DeVry University, Elmhurst College and Lincoln Technical Institute were given degree-granting authority on new programs as well.

The Board will meet again in December to discuss more educational issues throughout the state at the University of Illinois in Chicago.