Regents to focus on ‘hot’ topics

By Peter Schuh

Although it will not be addressed during the Board of Regents’ full meeting Thursday, a discussion on the Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative could become a hot topic during the Regents’ committee meetings today.

The Regents will be meeting at NIU to consider taking action on its Scholars Award Program and a mandatory retirement age policy for tenured faculty members. The Regents will also review an update on enrollment in Illinois higher education and a state report on purchasing practices.

According to Regents Chancellor’s Assistant Lana Kains, a discussion at today’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting will center around the first two phases of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s PQP initiative.

“Among other things, what they are going to discuss is phase two of the IBHE’s PQP initiative,” Kains said.

Last year through PQP, the IBHE recommended 190 programs for elimination state-wide. This year the IBHE has re-recommended 30 of those programs that the universities have chosen not to eliminate. NIU had three programs on the IBHE’s second hit-list: the doctoral programs in geology, economics and special education.

The Regents will need to concern themselves with the re-recommendations because the IBHE has cited these programs as “educationally and economically unjustified,” which means the Regents themselves will have to make the decision whether to retain or ax these programs.

“The Regents will more than likely discuss any programs to be considered for elimination at the meeting,” Kains said. “But I’m not sure how much discussion there is going to be. They will not bring it up for action.”

The university presidents will also give a “status report” on their progress in completing the actions laid out in their 1993 Productivity Reports. In these reports, the universities agreed to eliminate or consolidate certain programs in response to PQP efforts.

During their meeting Thursday, the Regents will take action on a staff recommendation to raise the stipend provided through their scholarship program from $600 to $1,000. The Regents will also take action on a recommendation to remove the forced retirement age from their regulations.

The Regents will meet today and Thursday in the Holmes Student Center.