A&S dean addresses critics, problems

By Eric Krol and Sean McClellan

Answering critics and improving undergraduate advising were among the topics brought forth Friday at an annual meeting of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

LA&S Dean James Norris gave his annual state of the college address to a nearly-packed Collins Auditorium at Cole Hall on Friday afternoon.

LA&S faculty gathered to hear Norris review the past year and highlight the upcoming one.

Norris addressed the media’s summertime attacks on higher education, calling them a bundle of “errors, ignorance, and truth.” Norris was referring to articles which stated that professors were unconcerned with educating undergraduates and that universities are inefficient on the whole.

“We need to be more aware in answering our critics,” he said.

Norris also had praise for the appointment of J. Carroll Moody as Acting Provost. Moody replaced the North Dakota-bound Kendall Baker during the summer.

He also discussed the recommendations of last semester’s Academic Resources Advisory Committee. ARAC was charged with the task of identifying 3 percent of each college’s budget for reallocation, however, Norris said the committee’s report is already dated. The Illinois Board of Higher Education has now shifted its policy towards productivity, quality and demand, he added.

The IBHE will be meeting to discuss these issues Sept. 3 and also have started releasing “hit lists” of unproductive programs to state universities.

Norris expressed concern that paring down universities will become a trend. “This is not a one-time sacrifice of the virgin to the volcano,” Norris said. “This will be every year.”

Norris offered many methods of battling attacks on higher education and state funding cuts.

Departments should eliminate bottlenecks, he said, which are required classes offered once every few semesters. Professors should look at courses and ask themselves, “Are they designed for undergraduates or my research topic?” he added.

Norris also recommended looking at faculty workloads and target credit-hour production, but admitted that different disciplines have different methods. “I don’t have a magic formula,” he said.

Norris said Associate Dean Donald Cress examined the situation and found that if every faculty member was forced to teach one more class, there would not be enough space for all of the added classes.

A question-and-answer session followed the speech, where the subjects of advising undergraduates and consolidating departments were discussed.

Norris suggested rewarding faculty for doing student advising work. This would counter the public perception that professors are consumed with research and don’t care about undergraduates.