Senate Executive Committee talks deferred maintenance

By Tyler Davis

The Senate Executive Committee reviewed recommendations regarding deferred maintenance from the Senate Committee on Campus Operations at its Monday meeting.

On Oct. 28, Roy Campbell, SEC chair, asked the Committee on Campus Operations to address a recommendation regarding reduction of the campus’ facility condition index, which is used to measure the condition of the campus’ buildings, within a period of several years. According to the committee’s report, the index started at .24 in 2007 and was since reduced to .16 in 2013. With projects that currently have funds allocated, the index will decrease to .14.

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The committee recommends that the campus should perform regular facility assessments at specified intervals, acquire a stable funding source for deferred maintenance, acknowledge student fee contributions to addressing deferred maintenance, extend Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment student fee funding and begin a campaign involving the University of Illinois Foundation in renovations and deferred maintenance.

Even with these recommendations, Provost Ilesanmi Adesida said it will take the University time to catch up on its accrued deferred maintenance, which currently totals $1.5 to $1.8 billion — about double the amount of the University’s available cash as of early April.

“I think it will go down over time if we can get stable funding,” he said.

During chancellor’s remarks, Chancellor Phyllis Wise said she would like to present the University’s April 17 feasibility report for an autonomously accredited College of Medicine on the Urbana campus to the Senate Executive Committee as soon as calendar space is available.

Currently, Wise said she is meeting with people who are in opposition of the project “to try and hear them out … so they can poke holes in it for me and tell me what’s wrong with it.”

“Some of the things I think we can mitigate, some of the things we probably won’t be able to mitigate. So I’m spending a lot of time in Chicago because I think a lot of the criticism is coming from there.”

Wise invited SEC members to encourage faculty or staff who are in opposition of the plans to speak with her.

She said the project will first have to go through the academic senate committees before being approved by the Board of Trustees and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Next, the University will commission a financial feasibility study to ensure that the plans are viable from a financial point of view in addition to having very initial conversations with the accrediting body.

Wise dispelled community concerns that the University will purchase Carle Foundation Hospital, possibly impacting the city’s pending lawsuit against the hospital due to the University’s property tax-exempt status.

“We don’t want to own a hospital,” she said. “We want to partner with a clinical enterprise so that we can provide the full four-year educational experience for the students.”

Currently, the University’s College of Medicine is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s program, which currently offers a limited curriculum.

“If we do it right, it will help UIC, it will help Chicago, it will help Central Illinois, it will help Illinois, and I hadn’t thought about it helping Mexico and beyond, but gosh, if they have arguments for that, I’m more than happy to listen.”

Additionally, Abbas Aminmansour, SEC member and associate professor of architecture, asked Wise whether the University could posthumously offer an honorary or special degree to the family of School of Architecture graduate Paul Davidson, who died in a motorcycle accident Friday night shortly before Commencement.

Wise said the administration will look into that, along with Aminmansour’s suggestion of starting a scholarship in his name.

“He was an outstanding student. I would say he was probably one of the top two or three in a class of 130, extremely nice guy — very brilliant,” Aminmansour said. “I worked on him many times to make sure he stayed here for his graduate education, and he decided to stay. I was very delighted about that.”