Student Senate passes Global Campus resolution

By Kathleen Foody

The Illinois Student Senate passed a resolution in support of the Global Campus at its weekly meeting Tuesday night following a question and answer session with senior administrators of the project.

The resolution also stressed the importance of considering all possible issues administrative officials should consider before the program’s commencement.

Chester Gardner, special assistant to President B. Joseph White and vice president for academic affairs, and Burks Oakley, associate vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois Online, answered the body’s questions on various aspects of the Global Campus proposal for over an hour.

Ryan Ruzic, student body present and a senior in LAS, said the proposal has a lot of good and bad points, but administrators have not made enough effort to get the input of University faculty and students.

Gardner said the administration intends to gather more student input as the project advances and asked for the senate’s help in formulating ways to do that.

Katie Dunne, student senator and a sophomore in LAS, asked Gardner whether the rush to compete in the online education market would decrease the time allowed to consider all possible issues of the Global Campus program.

Gardner said while University officials need to be decisive and move forward in a timely fashion, they would not ignore the senate’s concerns over the lack of student input.

Frank Calabrese, student senator and a sophomore in LAS, questioned Gardner and Oakley on the effect the Global Campus could have on the prestige of a degree from the University.

Calabrese said he had spoken with alumni and current students who were concerned that degrees earned entirely through online courses would cheapen the work of students at the three residential campuses.

Gardner said if the program does not live up to its potential, this possibility could become reality, but he believes the Global Campus faculty could provide superior experiences, enhancing the value of a degree from the University.

In response to questions concerning the effectiveness of online courses, Oakley said that students cannot hide in online courses.

“Interaction and access are the key advantages of online courses,” he said. “Online courses also allow us to take education to students who are otherwise unable to obtain education at the level the University provides.”

After the question and answer session, the senate proceeded with its meeting and passed the resolution.

The Urbana-Champaign Senate also passed the same resolution at its meeting Monday afternoon.

Ruzic said he was satisfied with the session, but would like to hear more specific details for the administration’s long-term plans.

“We will be following the program’s process and doing our best to continue giving student feedback,” he said.