Faculty members concerned over new enrollment management recommendations

The University’s Board of Trustees chairman Christopher Kennedy officially responded to faculty concerns earlier this week, reiterating that the Urbana campus’ identity will remain unchanged.

In a letter addressed to professors who wrote to the trustees mid-January, Kennedy said he too would be offended by the notion of someone seeking to destroy the University’s values by “homogenizing its parts.” He added that there is no such effort to do that now or in the future while the current board and the administration is in place.

Last week, University President Michael Hogan pulled specific rebranding recommendations off the table as a result of strong disapproval from faculty, especially on the Urbana campus. The recommendations are pending further review by University provosts.

Urbana professors wrote to Hogan and the trustees, stating that while some centralization could result in savings, the most recent changes have caused unprecedented University-wide costs and have diminished the roles of campus officers.

However, Hogan has said any admissions decisions, along with financial aid, will be made by campus-level officials, as they are made now.

The most recent complaints came at the Jan. 30 Urbana-Champaign Senate meeting, where faculty members pressed the administration to halt any implementation of the enrollment management recommendations, according to a resolution that was endorsed by the senators.

Hogan, who has been the subject of much criticism over the suggestions, commissioned two external reviewers to examine admissions and financial aid processes on the three campuses. Hogan has said implementing the recommendations would help recruit higher quality students as well as increase diversity numbers at the University.

One example Kennedy used in his letter was that in 2010, there were seven graduating students who got perfect scores on the ACT at Stevenson High School, in Lincolnshire, Ill. However, the trustees could not identify any effort to recruit these students from any University campus.

“Many of us who have college-age children are aware of the incredible enrollment marketing programs that rival institutions focus on our children … and the incredible lack of comparable marketing coming out of any University of Illinois campus,” he told faculty.

After the reviewers released their report in August, the University Senates Conference endorsed the concept of enrollment management. However, there were deep concerns about how the report asks for the University to pursue some of the goals, including rebranding.

Kennedy and Hogan met with the faculty advisory group at its meeting on Jan. 13 and fielded questions and concerns of all of the recommendations “with unlimited input requested of each member of the University Senates Conference,” according to Kennedy.

Later this month, Hogan will formally respond to the groups’ fears regarding his recommendations. Shortly after that, the hiring process for an executive director for enrollment management will begin. Chancellor and vice president Phyllis Wise has told faculty that she supports the hire, as the chancellors have been assured that they will have input in the hiring process.