UI trustees review academic unit planning, revised Lovie contract


Sonny An | Assistant photo edito

The Board of Trustees approved a $100,000 bonus for University president Timothy L. Killeen at its meeting on Sept. 8.

By Megan Jones , Staff Writer


University officials discussed classes offered on campus, the state budget impasse and cuts each campus has made at a Board of Trustees committee meeting Wednesday.

The Board of Trustees officially meets Thursday at the Illini Union, but members were briefed by each campus provost on the issues effecting their campuses.

Marilyn Marshall, interim vice president for Academic Affairs, said the lack of state budget funding has heightened the need to maximize each campus’s resources. She said there are many parts to academic unit planning, including the current budget uncertainty and ensuring that classes offered fit with the critical mission of the University.

She said this is much more important than creating a course catalog, and it makes sure there is demand for the University and students who are interested in the current programs.

Interim Provost Ed Feser said the campus uses periodic reviews for academic units. There has been a shift in enrollment over the years, as students have been choosing STEM and social sciences programs over the humanities, he said.

“It is important to be direct and address it,” he said. “The solution is not to close humanities programs, but to think creatively about what the programs can do.”

Each year, the campus has increased the amount of financial aid used. He said the numbers remain low in his view, but the overall trend of increasing the amount of aid given is good, with around $69 million in fiscal year 2016 for the Urbana campus.

“We put a lot of investment in financial aid and to maintain the accessibility of the institute,” he said. “This will get harder to do unless we see some relief.”

The board’s public session will begin at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, and trustees are expected to formally approve employment agreements for several administrators and head football coach Lovie Smith.

Smith has a six-year contract that gives him $21 million in compensation and could allow for $8 million in possible bonuses. The finalized employment agreement redistributes $2 million of income and gives it to Smith sooner, Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said Wednesday.

One million will be moved from years five and six and instead added to the second and third year. His overall amount of compensation does not change — just the rate at which he receives it.

Wilson said this comes after reviewing other Big Ten and Power Five contracts over the last few months.

The board will also vote on a resolution that expresses gratitude for Wilson’s talents and leadership during a “pivotal” time. The resolution said interim roles are often regarded as just caretakers, but circumstances demanded much more of Wilson and she “ably rose to the call.”

“You have been a profile in courage on many fronts, successfully engaging with and resolving issues above and beyond the usual command of the interim, something for which we are forever grateful,” the resolution stated.

Wilson became interim chancellor in August 2015 after the resignation of former chancellor Phyllis Wise, which followed in the release of several private emails between administrators that were exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Wilson will return to her position as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on Sept. 26 when Robert Jones takes over.

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