Senate to discuss new IT plan, pension reform

By MaryCate Most

Limited wireless access has caused faculty and administrators to jump into action, developing the 2013 IT Strategic Plan that proposes a 0.1 percent increase in the University’s investment in IT. The proposed plan will go before the Urbana-Champaign Senate at its meeting at the Illini Union on Monday.

“This resolution was surprisingly fast,” said John Hart, Information Technology Committee chair and Engineering professor. “I did not expect it to get to the (full) Senate so quickly.”

If passed, the plan will call for an increase in the total percentage of the University budget spent on IT, from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent. Even with the proposed increase, Hart said the University falls behind the average percentage of IT spending in education, which is currently at 4 percent nationwide.

“The strategic plan is longer-term, and it focuses on data driven scholarship,” Hart said. “We are trying to set up a campus IT infrastructure to support moving large sets of data across campus.”

The Senate is also set to discuss pension reform, Senate Executive Committee Chair Roy Campbell said.

“The opinion will be pretty much aghast (about the pension plan),” Campbell said. “One of the things that we are going to look at is compensation. What will the University do in terms of benefits?”

Campbell said there is some concern that when faculty are deciding what universities to teach at, pension plans at the University might be a deterrent.

“What it could do is really disenchant people that are living in Illinois,” Campbell said. “A lot of faculty are international, and it is not like they have family in Champaign-Urbana. It puts us at a serious disadvantage with competing universities.”

The Senate meeting will provide an opportunity to open discussion on how to address the plan. There has already been talk of the University providing some kind of pension supplement, and at the University’s Chicago campus, faculty have started to unionize and are planning to strike, Campbell said.

MaryCate can be reached at [email protected]