Board of Trustees approve resignation of UIS chancellor

The University’s Board of Trustees met on the Urbana campus Wednesday and addressed issues for the upcoming academic and fiscal year. New degree programs, faculty development and a summary of the University’s fiscal condition were among the topics of discussion.

Amount owed by state climbs to $484 million

The board heard a budget presentation from Walter Knorr, vice president, chief financial officer and comptroller of the University.

Knorr said the University currently receives 26.5 percent of the state’s total higher education budget, which represents the largest portion of money given to any public university in Illinois.

The state budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 approaches $13 billion, which will represent almost half of the entire budget, Knorr said.

“We will not abdicate our mission; the work of this campus goes on,” said Interim Chancellor Robert Easter.

With $484 million owed to the University, Interim President Stanley Ikenberry said that difficult decisions lie ahead.

“Our employees stood up and have done what they needed to do,” he said. “But yes, we’re going to continue to make some tough decisions.”

Springfield chancellor resignation accepted

The board accepted the resignation of University of Illinois at Springfield Chancellor Richard Ringeisen with some minor changes, which includes trimming off two months of his affiliation with the University. Ringeisen was originally going to disaffiliate with the University on Dec. 31; however, his resignation will now officially take effect Oct. 31.

“He’s done a great job for the University of Illinois-Springfield campus,” Ikenberry said. “It’s now stronger, better, larger and higher quality in every way.”

Ringeisen addressed the board after the motion passed.

“When you’re a ship at sea and a storm comes up, you do not shut the engines down,” he said. “You don’t suddenly stop caring. Hopefully, we can share our wisdom and advice to the University of Illinois whenever possible.”

Trustees approve faculty leaves of absence

The board approved 175 sabbaticals for 5 percent of the tenured faculty on all three campuses for the 2010-2011 academic year.

A sabbatical is a paid leave of absence.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, 189 sabbaticals were taken, and 124 came from the Urbana campus. Only tenured faculty members can take sabbaticals and receive a semester off with pay or a year off with half pay.

“That is part of the University’s investment in the future to attract and retain, develop and support strong faculty,” Ikenberry said. “That’s the heart of the University, that’s key to going forward.”

Three-year degrees

Ikenberry presented the board with an option of three-year baccalaureate degree programs on all three campuses.

He said the University realizes that many students enter their undergraduate education with other units of collegiate credit, and this would help accelerate their education process.

He added that the program would help utilize the University’s summer sessions on all three campuses by encouraging summer enrollment for students who want to graduate in three years.

“We have faculty who would love to engage with students and have greater opportunities for employment in the summer months,” he said.

Ikenberry said that the next step would be to put together a team to look at the specifics of such a program.