Board hears plans to improve University of Illinois rankings

University President Michael Hogan presented plans for reorganizing the upper echelons of the school’s administrative team to the Board of Trustees at its meeting in the Illini Union Pine Lounge on Thursday. The board also approved the budget for Fiscal Year 2011.

Hogan’s plans include the addition of the vice president of health affairs position.

“The goal is to unify and align the administration team to a clear line of command,” Hogan said.

The administrative structural changes also include adding “vice president” to the three chancellors’ titles and expanding the role of the vice president for technology and economic development to vice president for research, technology and economic development.

“This is an effort that is designed, in the long term, to re-empower the chancellor to be more active management of their campus,” Hogan said of the chancellors’ title change.

He added that any changes must be approved by the University Senates Conference and the campus senates.

Assuming the restructuring makes it through the senate, it will be voted on at the next board meeting in November.

Despite the addition of a new vice president, Kennedy said he expects a 5 to 10 percent reduction in administrative overhead from 2010 over the next two years.

The public portion of the meeting began by honoring University Professor Carl Woese with the Trustees’ Distinguished Service Medallion. Woese is recognized for his work in microbiology and discovering the third branch of the “tree of life.”

Woese spoke briefly after receiving his award about the state of the University and its faculty. He emphasized the importance of the administration to reignite “spirit” in the faculty.

“There are people thinking of leaving this place who never thought of it before,” Woese said.

Following the honoring of Woese, Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert Easter discussed several programs and topics for the Urbana campus. He touched on the importance of “aggressively reaching into” Latino and African American communities to diversify the student population and said the University continues “to lead the nation in providing access” for students with disabilities.

The board also honored the career of retiring Springfield Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, who announced his decision to step down in March.

Earlier in the meeting, Hogan addressed the University’s fall by eight places in the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings. The University also fell out of the top 10 in public universities.

“It’s something we’re all concerned about,” Hogan said. “We need to understand what contributed to this decline and then try to understand what we need to do.”

Hogan said the drop is an issue and although the U.S. News and World Report is only one source of college rankings, he called it the “gold standard of rankings because it’s the one that most people consult.”

Hogan pointed to the state’s financial situation and a larger freshman class, along with the “gubernatorial scandal” and “admissions scandal” as some of the reasons for the drop.

The Board of Trustees’ next meeting is Nov. 18 at the Chicago campus.