IBHE approves $15 million for interactive TVs

SKOKIE, Ill. (AP)—The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved a total of $15 million in grants to 11 groups of colleges that want to set up interactive television systems between campuses, a spokesman said Thursday.

When the systems are in place, instructors on one campus will be able to teach students on another campus, said board spokesman Ross Hodel.

‘‘The instructor and students will be able to talk back and forth and see each other,’‘ he said, after the board approved the funds at its meeting in this Chicago suburb.

Some of the sites will be at places other than colleges, such as at hospitals, high schools and even a prison—Danville Correctional Center, Hodel said.

The grants also will cover mobile units incorporating two-way audio and video capabilities. They will serve short-term training needs at various locations.

Local and regional systems are expected to be interconnected over time into larger networks.

An example of a group that received a grant is the Central Illinois Higher Education Consortium, which received $1.6 million.

The group includes Illinois Central College, Bradley University, Heartland Community College, Illinois State University, Illinois Valley Community College, Lincoln Land Community College and Sangamon State University.

A total of 124 sites are covered by the 11 groups that received grants, Hodel said.

After its regular meeting Thursday morning, the board began two days of hearings at which officials of public universities, community colleges and some private institutions are detailing their efforts to improve productivity.

Illinois universities have saved an estimated $38 million by trimming or eliminating under-used academic programs on orders of the board.

Despite the savings, the universities have not met the board’s call to eliminate 190 programs for estimated savings of more than $100 million.

The board on Thursday particularly targeted Illinois State for failing to trim enough on the academic side, although the school has made significant cuts in administration.

Illinois State’s president, Thomas Wallace, appeared before the panel.

‘‘The board felt that in general his programatic cuts were not near equal to what any of the other institutions have done,’‘ Hodel said.

Other presentations were made by Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Sangamon State and Illinois Community College.

Also testifying was Arnold Weber, president of Northwestern University, a private school that is trimming in parallel fashion to the state’s efforts. For example, Northwestern trimmed nursing and biology, two less successful of its programs, to focus more resources on engineering and fine arts.

In a separate higher education matter Thursday, the University of Illinois board of trustees announced it had approved an operating budget for 1993-94 that is 2.3 percent greater than in 1992-93.

The share of the overall budget supported by state tax funds dropped for the fourth consecutive year to 35.4 percent, an historic low, the board said in a statement.