Senate task force endorses enrollment management changes
The Urbana Faculty Senate on April 30 accepted the final report of its enrollment management task force, which endorsed the formation of a three-campus policy council to better coordinate enrollment-related practices.
The report centered on the task force’s review of “Strategic Enrollment Management: The Path Forward,” a policy proposal submitted by president Michael J. Hogan at the March 19 meeting of the University Senates Conference. Hogan tendered his resignation, effective July 1, three days later.
Senators had assailed Hogan’s original enrollment management proposal, which they said centralized too many recruitment and admissions processes and eroded campus decision-making autonomy.
But the task force, led by comparative biosciences professor Michael Biehl, said in its report that the “Path Forward” document represented an “evolutionary progression” and “a better framework.” It not only addresses faculty members’ original concerns, said the task force report, it also illuminates areas where better coordination “can realize possible synergies and efficiencies.”
“It is our recommendation that this Path Forward document serves as a stimulus and framework for initiation for further discussion,” said the report – though it noted the university’s current enrollment management system is strong enough not to warrant wholesale change.
Biehl told senators that task force members were encouraged by the administrative proposal’s transformation, which occurred at the encouragement and direct involvement of UI Board of Trustees Chair Christopher Kennedy and top administrators.
“It generally addressed the major faculty concerns,” Biehl said of the revised proposal.
The task force is further recommending that each campus communicate “through a collaborative process” individual strategic enrollment goals to the new three-campus policy council, which would use the information to improve upon universitywide strategies. The council would comprise the vice president for academic affairs and each campus provost, as well as a faculty representative.
“Benefits to both the individual campuses and the university as a whole are likely to result from such a collaborative effort,” the report said.
- Senators balked at approving a proposed policy submitted by the General University Policy committee governing electronic surveys and questionnaires.
Sen. Nicholas Burbules, committee chair and a professor of education, policy, organization and leadership, said the design of the policy was to put a mechanism in place to “prevent faculty and students from being deluged” by unsolicited online opinion-seekers.
He said the new policy had been designed to protect academically inspired surveys and allows individual colleges and units, as well as membership organizations, to continue to conduct internal surveys.
However, it does require universitywide surveys to be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board and by a separate committee for approval.
“It’s not banning surveys, it’s establishing some type of filtering process,” he said. “Nothing in this policy affects any voluntary group of people from communicating with its own members. There needs to be some process.”
The policy would be administered by an Electronic Survey Administration Committee.
Several senators voiced disapproval either over the need for such a policy or the actual wording of it, which they said was confusing and open for the possibility of being used to stifle legitimate exchange.
“There’s just too much confusion,” said Sen. Al Kagan, a professor of library administration.
Burbules, unable to convince a group of senators the policy would be effective in its present form, agreed and pulled the proposal back to committee for further discussion and clarification.
- Richard Wheeler, provost and interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, apologized to senators for unknowingly excluding information at the March senate meeting, in which senators were asked to vote on a new faculty sanctions policy.
At the time of the meeting, he said, he and other administrators were unaware of a sanctions document that was created, but not enacted, by the senate in 2003. While still pertaining to sanctions, the process “varied a great deal” from the one approved last meeting.
Wheeler said he made the public announcement to ensure everyone has complete information, considering the sanctions issue was raised because it was believed there wasn’t a policy covering it. He said he regretted the oversight.
“I think it belonged in the conversation and it wasn’t there,” he said. “We just didn’t have the whole story.”