Inside Illinois continues its presentation of updates - begun in the March 17 issue - on the progress of the work groups involved in the long-range campus-planning process known as the Academic Plan for the Year 2000. Work groups are to provide Chancellor Michael Aiken and Provost Larry Faulkner with draft reports by May 15. Reactions to the reports will be solicited among selected campus policy groups; after consideration of such input, work groups will issue revised draft reports by Sept. 15. These reports will be widely distributed for campus reaction, and after further discussion, final reports are expected by Dec. 15. International role of the university Preparing students to function in a world with an increasingly international focus is something that should be "central, not marginal" in the UI's list of priorities, according to Marianna Tax Choldin, the Mortenson Distinguished Professor of International Library Programs and chair of this work group. So far, in its investigations of existing programs and research opportunities, the group has uncovered what Choldin refers to as a "big, somewhat amorphous" collection of international offerings. "We do a lot of things, but as a campus, we haven't looked at everything we do. We haven't made it visible and haven't pulled it all together," Choldin said. Among the group's preliminary findings, she said, is that "there needs to be some sort of coordinating group at a high level, chaired by the provost, if possible." Choldin said there also has been a great deal of discussion about the structure of the area centers, which bring together faculty members from various disciplines whose work focuses on the same geographic regions, such as Southeast Asia, or Russia and Eastern Europe. "It's not in question that the centers are important," Choldin said. "We're just trying to figure out how they should fit into the university's current and future plans for international education." To accomplish its task, the work group divided into five subgroups, which looked at specific areas in which international education plays a role: administration/structure/communication; institutional development and outreach; area centers; students; and faculty and research. The entire group has been meeting once a month, but "the bulk of the work has been hammered out in the smaller groups and through e-mail and telephone conversations," Choldin said. Choldin currently is "dealing with the nitty gritty and working at the knottier issues" that will constitute the group's draft report. One thing that the report will stress, she said, is that the UI's international education programs can be greatly improved through better communication and coordination among the providers and the administration. And many of the group's other goals can be accomplished relatively painlessly, without major infusions of new funding. "We aren't saying we must have more money in order to meet our goals," Choldin said. "In some cases, we already have the money, although, in other cases, we will need to go out and seek new funding." Overall, "there's a lot of good material in this report," she said. "The thread that runs through it all and will end up emerging strongly is that the university and the campus are committed. We take 'the international' quite seriously, and our leadership reinforces that." Building a more inclusive community The work group designated to look at this issue is an ad hoc committee comprising faculty and staff members and students. "Many of the committee members are extraordinarily sensitive to the feelings of people who've been stepped on, but also are concerned with protecting First Amendment issues," said Leigh Estabrook, the group's chair and dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. "The group also recognizes the need for there to be space for people who are alike to be together, as well as the need for people from different backgrounds to interact and learn from each other. "And that's a big challenge," she said. "Many of us don't come from backgrounds that prepare us to deal with these issues." While the campus may be far from its goal of establishing an environment in which everyone - regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation - is regarded with respect, the committee is aware of numerous efforts in the past few years aimed at achieving that goal, Estabrook said. "There have been many campus groups working on inclusivity issues," she said, so the group chose not to "spend a year on fact-finding." Instead, a part of its modus operandi was "to pull together and build on what's been done, rather than replicate it." Members of the group also coordinated their activities with other work groups to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts. "In addition to looking at areas of concern," she added, "we also are looking at areas where we're doing well." For instance, Estabrook said, "the university's recruitment efforts to encourage underrepresented groups to apply are admirable." In its investigation of what has been done, what is being done and what more could be done, Estabrook said the entire group has been reviewing campus practices and meeting weekly to identify strategies to help build a more inclusive community on the Urbana-Champaign campus. One of the things committee members agreed upon early, she said, is the need to be cautious about language usage when discussing inclusivity issues. And that extends to the use of the term inclusivity itself. "In a fundamentally non-inclusive society, where we are all victims of our own prejudices, we begin with the awareness that the term inclusivity can raise red flags and lead to misunderstandings," she said. "Our report will make sure our language is clear about issues we regard as being of concern, and clear about strategies the campus can undertake." Estabrook stressed that in recommending ways to increase diversity at the UI, the committee "is not just talking about racial/ethnic background." The committee considers a diverse student population to be one that also comprises "oboe players and tuba players." The bottom line, Estabrook said, is that "we care about a diverse, multiple-talented faculty and student body." "We're also very concerned with how departments reward faculty for being open to diverse ways of teaching that take into account different backgrounds and learning styles," she said. And while the group is concerned with the current debate over the need for student cultural centers - an issue many students feel passionately about - Estabrook said the subject is being left for now to the Urbana-Champaign Senate, which is currently looking at it. Other topics the group does intend to address: * Continued use of Chief Illiniwek as the symbol of the UI. * Non-discrimination policies and practices associated with university-sponsored and certified housing. * Compliance of the Greek system and registered student organizations with university non-discrimination policies. * Assessment of the campus climate for underrepresented groups. * Inclusivity issues related to the wider Champaign-Urbana community. * Ongoing educational efforts, including programs aimed at faculty members and teaching assistants. * Ways to create a more positive working environment.