Trustees discuss future of Global Campus, FY09 budget
At the March 11 meeting of the UI Board of Trustees in Urbana, President B. Joseph White agreed to work with faculty members from the University Senates Conference in appointing three additional people to the academic policy council that oversees Global Campus. White agreed to amend the constitution for the Global Campus accordingly before the board approved it. Chester Gardner, who has led the online program since its inception, was appointed its chief executive.
Global Campus has 366 students in five degree and four certificate programs. Gardner said he expects enrollment to reach 450 by May. Four more programs – two at the bachelor’s level and two at the master’s level – are being developed. They will go to the trustees for approval in May with classes to start in September, pending approval of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Enrollment for September is projected at 700 students, which would put Global Campus halfway to breaking even, Gardner said. Global Campus has drawn $4.7 million from its authorized line of credit with the university; it has had cumulative tuition and fee revenue of $1.3 million and total grant funding of $1.45 million.
Walter Knorr, university vice president and chief financial officer, reported on the fiscal year 2009 budget and said that utilities expenses were $15 million less than the $120 million budgeted, largely as a result of the natural gas purchasing plan approved in September. “We’re potentially looking at a decrease in our budget request for FY10 for utilities because of our 2009 activities,” Knorr said.
Knorr proposed – and the trustees approved – an energy cost management policy to replace the natural gas purchasing plan, for procurement of electricity, coal and natural gas that authorized purchases with rolling delivery dates up to 36 months into the future. To date, the university has secured 90 percent of its expected natural gas requirements for delivery in FY09, 80 percent of its requirements for FY10, and 57 percent of its anticipated need for FY11.
Knorr said that energy costs are being further reduced by the building systems work throughout the campuses. At Urbana, about $3 million of those savings were reallocated to other building systems projects.
In discussing plans and priorities, board chair Niranjan Shah said that the university community must work with state and local officials and people in the communities to gain needed financial support for capital projects, such as the renovations of Mumford House and Lincoln Hall. “We may have different roles, but we have common interests,” Shah said. “We need support from the media, from the public.”
Shah said he expected the university to capture a significant amount of research funding for sustainable energy projects from the federal economic stimulus package and that a task force would be created to ensure that the money remained in this area. “We should work together. We will be the catalyst to make it possible.”
During a discussion of a March 8 power failure on campus, Shah asked campus officials to request economic stimulus funds to expand or replace Abbott Power Plant.
Douglas Beckmann, senior associate vice president of finance in the Office of Business and Financial Services, said a storm knocked out a high-voltage line from an Ameren substation to campus.
Power was lost at about 3 p.m. and began to return at about 10 p.m. Campus officials plan to meet with Ameren officials to review the incident.
Animal-care areas take first priority when restoring power, followed by research spaces and student residences, according to Jack Dempsey, executive director of Facilities and Services.
The campus gets 40 megawatts of power from Ameren now but will need to boost that to 60 megawatts in June to support the Blue Waters petascale computing facility, Beckmann said.
Shah asked Chancellor Richard Herman to initiate a careful evaluation to determine what is needed for Mumford House, the campus’s oldest structure, to remain permanently in its current location. There are several life/safety issues that must be addressed for that to occur, Shah said, and he asked Herman to work with Jan Grimes of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to “make Mumford House safe, attractive and restored to historic preservation standards.”
Herman said that restoring the 1870s farmhouse is an important initiative for the campus and that there are no plans to relocate it from the South Quad. “It will be a question of resources for us,” Herman said. “Exactly what those resources are, we will only know when we come up with a plan, and that I will do. We did file, through the Recovery Illinois stimulus program, a request for $90 million (to restore) Lincoln Hall and Mumford House. We hope we can obtain those funds.”
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