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January 28, 2008

IBHE TO ACT ON NEW APPROACH TO STATE FUNDING OF HIGHER ED

Springfield meeting also will feature national diversity expert, update on higher education public agenda

SPRINGFIELD – A what-you-get-for-your-money spending plan that lays out a series of “investment options” for funding colleges and universities, student aid, and operations and grants programs in fiscal 2009 will be considered by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The specific investment scenarios of the FY09 budget recommendations will be presented to Board members when they gather in Springfield February 5 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center for their regular meeting.

said the new approach represents the Board’s effort to move from a simple pro forma recommended spending level to providing an independent, reasoned analysis of the needs of the public higher education system and the return that additional investment in that system will provide. The Board’s proposal shows that additional investment will improve education attainment and increase graduates in nursing and other critical skills fields. “The higher education investment plan is a statement of opportunity for the State,” Hightman said. “By presenting various investment levels linked to state priorities, the Governor and General Assembly will have a more complete and informative portrait of the financial needs of colleges and universities and will have a better understanding of the benefits that additional investments in higher education will provide.”

She added, “Ultimately, it is the Governor and General Assembly that must decide the level of resources to invest in higher ed,” she noted. “This approach will better inform that decision.”

The Chairwoman said the approach to the fiscal 2009 budget recommendations signifies an important departure from past practices in which the Board recommended a specific funding level. “In the past, the Board’s recommended budget did not always reflect the needs of institutions or the myriad ways the higher education system can help address the challenges facing the state,” she said.

Hightman acknowledged that investments in higher education, as in all state services, are inextricably linked to broad economic forces that influence available state revenues. And she pointed out, “Economic trends appear increasingly worrisome.” But she also noted that presenting various investment levels for consideration was an important service to the Administration and the General Assembly, who ultimately determine who gets how much for what.

“This is a new direction for the Board of Higher Education, and we believe a positive one,” Hightman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to craft a final budget that addresses state priorities within the state’s financial means.”

At its February 5 meeting, Board Members also will hear from a nationally recognized expert on diversity in higher education, one of the Board’s highest priorities.

Dr. James A. Anderson, until recently the Vice President for Student Success and Vice Provost for Institutional Assessment and Diversity at the University of Albany, will discuss the need for “transformative leadership” on college campuses to connect the twin goals of diversity and globalization. Anderson, now a professor of psychology at the University of Albany, argues in his recent book, Driving Change through Diversity and Globalization, that institutions will succeed in meeting the challenges of demographic changes, increased accountability, and the need to educate students to be global citizens only to the degree they “embed the twin values of diversity and globalism at the heart of their activities.”

Anderson has worked with more than 200 colleges and universities, state systems, and organizations on issues of diversity and globalization. He also will participate in a seminar for institutional academic officers, affirmative action officers, and other administrators from Illinois college and universities.

The Board also will receive an update on its master planning process, A Public Agenda for Illinois Higher Education: Planning for College and Career Success. The process, directed by House Joint Resolution 69, will identify state needs for postsecondary education, examine the ability of existing policies to meet those needs, and present recommendations to the Board and the General Assembly on an agenda of priorities and policies to better prepare Illinois residents for the economic challenges of the present and future.

“Establishing a public agenda for higher education, linked to state needs and priorities, is the most important endeavor facing the Board of Higher Education,” Chairwoman Hightman said. “This process will give us an accurate picture of unmet needs for postsecondary education, state workforce priorities, and policies that can meet the challenges we confront.” Hightman also will chair the task force.

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