500 More Faculty, Arts Funding Among UI Campus Leaders’ Goals
University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise says students and faculty are the driving force behind its future vision. Their advice and criticisms shaped a Monday meeting hosted by her and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida.
More than 200 faculty and students, some standing against the wall, filled the Beckman Auditorium for the 90-minute Town Hall discussion as part of the 'Visioning Future Excellence' process.
One of the key goals is recruiting 500 new faculty members in the next five to seven years, rebuilding the U of I's tenured system to about 2,000.
"This is 500 new minds," Adesida said. "Five-hundred new perspectives. This is how we bring in new energy, new perspectives, and how we ingite the scholarly creativity that is the hallmark of the best institutions."
The News-Gazette reports that the campus' tenured faculty has dropped from about 2,100 in 2007-08 to 1,856. Retirements, departures for jobs elsewhere and hiring freezes are responsible for the drop.
The Chancellor said the new landscape for higher education includes drastic changes to energy and the environment, health and wellness, social equality, and rapid changes in technology.
Wise also said the U of I’s sense of community is rare, but there is need for improvement.
“It is only all of the voices are heard - voices from different cultural backgrounds, different religious background, different racial backgrounds, different sexual orientation backgrounds, different gender backgrounds that we are really going to succeed," she said. "And even here there is work to do. We must become even better at this so that were are the attractive destination for the best and brightest faculty, students and staff.”
Provost Adesida has announced a 50-percent increase in arts funding for individuals by next fall on the Urbana campus.
Adesida said two campus-wide working groups will be set up this fall, one to back arts initiatives – the other area being humanities. He said there are resources like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that are worth tapping into.
“Research where you can engage students, research that you can publish," Adesida said. "These are the things that we’re hoping to promote. The essence of this is that we want the campus to be uniformly excellent at whatever we do. Humanities and the arts are a big element of our campus.”
Adesida said the funding for arts and humanities will influence how the U of I thinks and writes in other areas of study. He said resources to help faculty with grant proposals are uneven across campus, but Adesida hopes to change that.
The next chancellor of the University of Illinois' Urbana campus says she is ready to get to work.
Dr. Phyllis Wise spoke to members of the university community Tuesday about her upcoming role at the U of I. Wise is currently the provost and executive vice president at the University of Washington. But she is expected to start her new job at the U of I in a couple of months.
Wise said she knows a lot about the financial challenges facing universities. She said UW has dealt with deep funding cuts in recent years from its state legislature.
"In Washington, they provide relatively little amount of money toward our overall budget," Wise said. "It's been pretty grim, but the state legislature really realized that they could not do it themselves, and they gave us tuition delegating authority."
Wise said UW administrators raised tuition by 20 percent, after increasing it 14 percent during each of the two previous years. She also said financial aid was increased at UW to expand the pool of students eligible for assistance.
Last spring, tuition at the U of I went up by 6.9 percent for the next school year. Wise said she suspects she will have a big role working with the Illinois General Assembly to convince lawmakers to raise state support for higher education.
Chris Kennedy, who chairs the U of I's Board of Trustees, said he is confident Wise's experience as a researcher and administrator will help the university boost support from the state and individual research grants.
"I think the fact that we were able to recruit her sends a strong message all over the United States that the University of Illinois is a place for great researchers and academic achievers," Kennedy said. "We want to increase our research grants and contracts because those are the grants and contracts that attract the great researchers. Those great researchers attract the great graduate students, who attract the great students. You have this tremendous snowball effect."
Kennedy said he expects the Board of Trustees will unanimously approve Wise's appointment, so that she can start Oct. 1st. If approved, all three U of I chancellors will be women for the first time.
Wise was chosen about three weeks ago after a nearly nine-month search, but her appointment wasn't made public until last week, according to UI Physics Professor Doug Beck, who led the search committee.
U of I President Michael Hogan has confirmed that Wise will earn $500,000 a year and $100,000 per year deferred if she stays in the position for five years.
Wise would replace interim Chancellor Robert Easter, who took the job after the 2009 resignation of Richard Herman following an admissions scandal.
"We are at a pivotal time in higher education," Easter said. "What's the future of a major research university like this? I think we're perfectly poised to discover that future. My advice (to her) would not be bashful to thinking about the faculty and leadership about how we move ahead aggressively in areas that will create our future."
Easter said following his two-year stint as interim chancellor, he hopes to gain emeritus status. He also said he plans to occasionally come back to the U of I to teach in the Department of Animal Sciences.
(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)