Impact of hearing questioned

By Brian Slupski

A public hearing concerning a controversial Illinois Board of Higher Education streamlining initiative will be held this afternoon in Chicago.

The hearing will address the Priorities, Quality and Productivity (PQP) initiative which has called for the elimination or reduction of 190 academic programs statewide, and 15 programs at NIU including the College of Law.

The hearing comes one day before the IBHE is expected to adopt a resolution concerning the PQP recommendations. There is some doubt as to whether the hearings can have an impact coming so late in the process and so near the vote on the resolution.

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody said he thinks the impact of the hearing will be limited.

“I doubt there will be any great groundswell where the IBHE says ‘let’s just forget about the initiative,’ or where they decide to alter the pending resolution,” Moody said.

However, Moody said the hearing could have some effect in influencing how individual board members think about PQP.

Hoss Hodel, deputy director of the IBHE, said with about 70 people submitting written testimony to the board, he senses there could be some impact.

“The hearing will give the board an opportunity to ask those who have submitted written testimony questions to clarify points,” Hodel said.

The resolution, which is expected to be adopted at the IBHE’s Tuesday meeting, calls on the universities to “implement fully the productivity improvements,” described in university productivity reports which were presented to the IBHE in October of this year.

The resolution also states the universities should review and consider the IBHE staff recommendations on productivity improvements.

NIU already is reviewing the IBHE staff recommendations. The review should be completed by January. NIU then will present a report outlining what actions the university plans to take.

Moody said NIU will meet with the IBHE staff in the spring and discuss the process. He said he hopes any disagreements on program recommendations can be worked out then.

“There could be some sharp disagreements. How we could work out a total disagreement remains to be seen,” Moody said.

However, Moody added that the resolution shows a degree of flexibility because it states that the universities should consider the IBHE staff recommendations, and not necessarily fully implement all of them.