Board of Trustees discuss changes for University

By Atoosa Sayeh

Chair Edward McMillan called the University’s Board of Trustees to two meetings Thursday to discuss various topics pertaining to the University.

Both meetings took place in Chicago with video conferences held on campuses in Urbana, Rockford and Springfield. The video conference in Urbana was held in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

Governance, Personnel and Ethics Committee Meeting (1 p.m.)

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The meeting mainly focused on the appointment of college deans, the University’s update on the background check policy and the financial status of the University.

The meeting began with the discussion of promotions in academic rank and changes in the tenure, which was presented by Christophe Pierre, vice president for academic affairs.

Pierre said faculty hiring, promotion and tenure are the most important decisions made by the University.

“This year we have 176 faculty members who are being recommended by the campus. That’s slightly fewer compared to last year,” Pierre said. “Each of these faculty members have demonstrated a record of superior scholarly achievement and collectively they will present a future to the University of Illinois.”

According to Pierre, external reviewers are currently evaluating the recommendations.

Ilesanmi Adesida, vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, then discussed the appointment of college deans for the College of Business, the Graduate College, the College of Law and the college of media for the University.

“We have four candidates for deanship on the Urbana campus,” Adesida said. “These candidates were chosen because they were highly recommended to us and have showed exceptional service on this campus.”

The candidates include: Jeffrey Brown, professor in business, as appointed dean for the College of Business; Wojtek Jan Chodzko-Zajko, professor in AHS, as appointed dean for the Graduate College; Vikram Amar, professor in law at UC Davis, as appointed dean for the College of Law; and Jan Slater, professor in media, for an extension as dean for the College of Media.

McMillan then gave the floor to Maureen Parks, executive director and associate vice president of human resources, to present an update in the University’s background check policy.

“In the new policy, background checks will be required for all new hires,” Parks said. “This will include staff members, tenures and non-tenures as well as graduate student employees, undergraduate student employees and unpaid volunteers.”

Parks said the information that will be checked includes a standard background check, national criminal record database search, county-wide criminal search, state-wide criminal search, social security number verification, employment verification and the national sex offender registry. Additional checks may be made based on the requirements of the position.

Parks will be taking the new policy to the Board of Trustees in September for approval and plans for the policy to go into effect on October 5.

Jennifer Creasey, assistant director in the Office for Governmental Relations, was then asked to discuss the state budget.

“The state budget picture for the new fiscal year continues to be at a stalemate,” Creasey said. “As the state budget continues to be debated in Springfield, we will continue our state advocacy work.”

Creasey said President Timothy Killeen has corresponded with Gov. Bruce Rauner on many occasions and they will continue reaching out to the University’s alumni caucus to serve on their behalf in the General Assembly.

“We are working closely with Illinois connections to ramp up our efforts with district meetings and events throughout the state that will connect alumni and students with their state legislators,” Creasey said.

University Healthcare System Committee Meeting (2:30 p.m.)

The meeting mainly focused on the approval affiliation with Carle and the new center for alcohol research in epigenetics that is in plans of being created at the University.

Adesida started the meeting by discussing the importance of approving affiliation with Carle.

“We’ve been working very hard together to create a new College of Medicine,” Adesida said. “The new college will bring in new ideas and developments for the University.”

The new college, Adesida added, will be the first college specifically designed at the intersection of engineering and medicine.

According to Adesida, Carle Foundation Hospital funded about $100 million to the college, and the University has a fundraising target of $135 million for the new college. Adesida mentioned the new college will be officially called the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, but the name is temporary until another donor provides the college with more funds.

Subhash Pandey, professor in psychiatry and director of the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics (CARE) at UIC, then discussed the importance of the center.

“The approaches in the study of epigenetics will help lead to the development of new drugs for the treatment and prevention of alcoholism,” Pandey said. “CARE will help coordinate multiple research and create projects to evaluate ethanol-induced epigenetic changes in specific brain circuitries that lead to alcoholism.”

Pandey said CARE’s main goal is to disseminate the scientific knowledge of alcoholism to the general public.

He said the new center would help attract new researchers to the alcohol research field. The new center would also serve as a vehicle to invite leading basic and clinical alcohol researchers to visit UIC and interact with faculty.

Pandey then asked Victor Jongeneel, director of the High-Performance Biological Computing group, to discuss how UIUC will be contributing to the research of the center.

“We will mostly be providing the technology for analyzing the data we receive from the center,” Jongeneel said. “We will basically look at two aspects of the center; one is to determine the expression of genes, in particular the brain area that is affected by alcohol, and in parallel to also look at the epigenetic modification status of the same gene.”

Jongeneel said the center will be a collaborative and well-coordinated process.

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