IBHE forms committee

By Peter Schuh

CHICAGO—The Illinois Board of Higher Education has set in motion several processes to strengthen its Priorities, Quality and Productivity (PQP) initiative.

PQP was established by the IBHE to streamline Illinois public higher education system. Under the initiative last year the IBHE cited 190 academic programs state wide for elimination.

During its meeting Wednesday at Chicago State University, the IBHE approved appointments to its Committee to Study Affordability and reviewed two reports which will lead to IBHE action in November.

The IBHE appointed 17 members to its Committee to Study Affordability. Jerry Blakemore was appointed chairman.

The committee will attempt to study several aspects of undergraduate education from the students’ point of view, emphasizing the cost and quality of education received.

Blakemore said the committee will facilitate two or three public hearings in the next year to help it follow its mandate. He said the first of these hearings will be held Nov. 8.

Quern said the committee is expected to give its report to the board next September “for discussion and policy recommendations.”

The IBHE received two reports as “information items” at the meeting. However, these items will return to the board as recommendations for action later this semester.

The first report examines faculty roles and responsibilities relating to the quality of undergraduate education.

The report looks at a shift in the emphasis of university faculty from teaching to research and according to IBHE Chairman Arthur Quern, “asks the question, ‘Is the balance shifting in the wrong direction?'”

“This is not an exercise in fine tuning,” he said. “If we really are going to shift priorities this is where we have to begin. We are dealing with very important issues here.

“I don’t just want this to be seen as another part of PQP. This, I believe, is the most fundamental area of our effort and I think it can give the greatest effect,” Quern added.

The report also looked at several methods in which faculty can be influenced to become better teachers and spend less time on research.

According to Quern, “These are not radical ideas. These are thoughtful ideas which can be tested on each campus.”

The second report detailed several changes the IBHE intended to make regarding university reporting processes. Included in the altered procedures are planning statement submissions and academic program reviews.

“These (reports) will be brought back as recommendations in November,” Quern said.