24, No. 12, Dec. 16, 2004
discusses updated Campus Master Plan, building renovations
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
Stephen Rugg, vice president for administration, presented a draft update
to the Urbana Campus Master Plan at the Dec. 6 meeting of the Urbana-Champaign
Senate. Rugg told senators that the plan is being updated to integrate
a variety of facility-related planning efforts that have been under
way on campus during the past year.
These include several projects for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics,
such as the replacement of the Ice Arena with a new facility on Florida
Avenue that would be funded with a mixture of campus resources, donations
and city funds. The site of the existing ice arena at Fifth Street and
Armory Avenue could be converted to academic use, as could Huff Hall,
if donor support were found to construct an Olympic sports arena and
Huff were vacated, Rugg said.
Administrators are exploring renovating or replacing the Orchard Downs
housing complex – either rebuilding at the current site near Florida
Avenue and Race Street in Urbana or constructing facilities near the
intersection of First Street and Windsor Road.
In the next few years, renovations likely will be needed at the Peabody
Drive and Gregory Drive residence halls as well; construction of a consolidated
dining center may begin as early as next spring.
Rugg told the senate that the UI Board of Trustees recently approved
a proposal designating the area bounded by First Street, St. Mary’s
Road, Fourth Street extended and Windsor Road for the next phase of
development of the Research Park. The final updated master plan will
likely propose the creation of a campus for the state surveys at the
research park, freeing up sites on the core campus, such as the Natural
Resources Building, for other uses. Amenities are being considered that
would make the park more pedestrian friendly, attract more people to
the area and aid in tenant recruitment, including a hotel, a restaurant
and a conference center.
The draft plan also includes construction of a golf course east of First
Street, and a donor for that project may be available, Rugg said.
Senators expressed concerns that none of the proposed construction is
designated for replacing outdated academic facilities on the core campus.
“I think that any master plan (should include) replacing non-functional,
antiquated buildings around the Quad with functional space that is appropriate
for teaching,” said Dick Mintel, medicine and biochemistry.
Interim Chancellor Richard Herman responded that the Lincoln Hall renovations
are a priority and that the campus needs to find a way to restore other
Senators expressed concerns about pedestrian safety along St. Mary’s
Road and traffic congestion as a result of additional development. Rugg
said administrators are considering the impact that development would
have on traffic in the area and whether St. Mary’s Road should
remain a thoroughfare if those facilities are built. The research park
expansion would be laid out in a grid pattern to accommodate public
transport such as buses or a fixed guideway system, Rugg said.
Rugg reiterated several times that the draft master plan should be viewed
“as more akin to a well-defined zoning plan that provides parameters
than as a rigid map” for locating projects or a priority list
for proposed new construction.
Belden Fields, political science, asked if the university is considering
any revenue-sharing mechanisms that would benefit the local school districts.
Retail opportunities at the research park and across campus will be
an important consideration for campus planning, offering additional
revenue-sharing mechanisms for the university and the cities of Urbana
and Champaign, Rugg said.
The city of Urbana would benefit if the Orchard Downs property is capable
of supporting other types of development, and the university also is
considering allowing private entities to locate on its property, which
could generate millions for the cities through taxable improvements,
“We’re engaged in an opportunity that probably comes along
but once in a lifetime, in the sense that we’re talking about
an enormous amount of building that has the potential to increase the
tax base of the community, for instance, and can in fact result in major
benefits to Champaign, Urbana and Savoy, in a way that would improve
the quality of life while still retaining its basic character, which
is why we all chose to work here,” Herman said. “One of
the areas into which we must enter is the improvement of our schools,
if we are expected to continue to bring faculty and staff (members)
of quality to our doors.”
Joe Finnerty, chair of the University Statutes and Senate Procedures
Committee, presented proposed revisions to the University Statutes that
would facilitate the development of optional multi-year contracts for
certain academic staff members. Multi-year contracts would be used mainly
as a recruiting tool for a select group of non-tenure-track academic
staff members, such as teachers at University High School or research
associates in the College of Medicine.
“As it turns out, nine out of the 11 Big Ten Schools already have
multi-year contracts; Minnesota and ourselves are in the minority,”
Finnerty said. “We want the best people on this campus to provide
research or teaching services, whatever this group will do. And in order
to attract those people here, it may be necessary for us to be competitive.”
Administrators at each of the campuses in conjunction with their senates
would determine campuswide ceilings for awarding multi-year contracts.
Campus procedures governing dismissal and due process procedures for
people with multi-year contracts will be prepared and written with the
consultation of the Senate, Finnerty said.
Finnerty invited senators to e-mail their questions or comments to him
or to the committee’s secretary, Francie Miller. The committee
will consider senators’ input and expects to bring the final amendments
before the senate for a vote in February.
Other business before
- Herman announced
the launch of Illinois
Promise, a privately funded UI program that will provide grants
to high-achieving students whose families’ incomes are at or
below the poverty level.
- Michael Grossman,
chair of the Senate Executive Committee, said that the Committee on
Committees identified several faculty members for possible inclusion
on a campuswide committee for assessing the impact of the Chief on
educational effectiveness as recommended by the North Central Association.
- Grossman said
that he and Abbas Aminmansour, chair of the Educational Policy Committee,
recently met with Acting Provost Jesse Delia to study the feasibility
of a textbook rental program on campus.
- In response
to a question from Peter Loeb, mathematics, Herman said that 93 to
94 percent of Urbana employees have completed the ethics training
program. Administrators are contacting people who have not completed
the ethics training or their supervisors.
- Dick Schacht,
philosophy, commented on the perennial unreliability of the Foellinger
Auditorium sound system and asked if Herman could “appoint a
blue-ribbon commission of minds on campus to see if we can’t
get a fix on this situation once and for all.” To which Herman
responded, mimicking a current television commercial, “Can you
hear me now?”