By Craig Chamberlain The Urbana-Champaign Senate gave the go-ahead Monday to pursue changes in its structure and operation - and to lobby, once again, for favorable treatment from state officials for the UI in next year's state budget. The first came by way of a "sense of the senate" vote on broad resolutions from the Fourth Senate Review Commission. The second came through passage of recommendations from the senate's Budget Committee. As it did last year, the committee is calling on faculty and staff members and students to write letters and make contacts with state officials, lobbying for a budget that will sustain the quality of higher education, and of the UI specifically. Previous efforts over the last 20 years to revise the structure and operation of the Urbana-Champaign Senate have come to little or nothing. The first two senate review commissions, operating in the mid-1970s, recommended only minor changes, some of which were adopted. An ad hoc committee formed in the early 1980s made recommendations for significant changes that were never accepted. And the Third Senate Review Commission, formed in 1986, never issued a report and was disbanded. Rather than bring forward specific recommendations, the latest review commission asked the senate on Monday for approval only of broad resolutions, designed to provide a framework from which to work out specifics. The first resolution - passed with most faculty senators voting for it and most students voting against - calls for reducing the quorum required to conduct senate business. Currently, the quorum is half of the senate's voting membership plus one, which is 126, when the senate is at full strength. The resolution itself does not specify a new number, but the review commission suggested 100. The major opposition to this resolution came from several students, the prime argument being that the reduction sends the wrong message. Instead of reducing the quorum, they said, more efforts should be made to increase attendance. According to Howard Rosenburg, a senior in advertising, "We are the leaders; we have a responsibility to be here." It also was clear from student comments that they had not forgotten the role quorum calls played last spring in a student-led effort to block changes in the campus code related to student discipline. H. George Friedman, professor of computer science, argued the opposite point. Since agendas for senate meetings are always mailed out ahead of time, a senator's absence often can mean they consent to what will be voted on, he said. "It is not so terrible that people don't come out to routine meetings," he said. If the committee work is done well, and there is no controversy about actions proposed, "who cares" if people don't come? By request, counts on the faculty and student vote on the resolution were taken separately. Faculty voted 58-14 for the resolution and students voted 22-2 against. Reduction also was the theme in the second resolution from the review commission, calling for a reduction in the number of standing committees. The current 21 committees "vary widely in their caseload and effectiveness," the commission noted, and the division of responsibilities has not changed over the last two decades to match changes in educational priorities and administrative structures. Geneva Belford, the commission member presenting the resolutions to the senate, said the thinking was that committees should be aligned more closely with the duties of given administrators. Consolidating certain committees also might provide more incentive for some senators to do committee work, she said. Originally worded, the resolution called for reducing the number of committees from 21 to 14. Several senators objected to stating a specific number, however, and Belford accepted a motion that the number be struck. Most of the debate that followed concerned the committee structure proposed by the commission. Though Belford stressed that the structure was offered only as a starting point, several senators clearly were concerned about the proposed elimination of some committees and the addition of responsibilities to others. Roland Liebert, professor of sociology, made a motion to eliminate a reference in parentheses to the proposed committee structure, but Belford objected, saying that would imply that another committee should start from scratch. The motion failed. As with the first resolution, the second resolution finally passed. Along with the committee reduction, it calls for membership on the Senate Council to be determined by entitlement rather than by caucus of the committee chairs. This would mean that chairs of certain policy-making committees automatically would be members of the council. The resolution also directs the Senate Council to appoint an ad hoc committee to develop specific recommendations based on the commission report. The third resolution from the commission, on implementing a consent agenda, also passed, with little debate. Efforts by the campus community last year to lobby the governor and the state legislature on the needs of the campus were successful, according to Kenneth Andersen, chair of the Budget Committee. The letters and visits paid off. In a written report, he noted that the effort "has been credited by the governor and other officials as one factor contributing to receiving the full appropriation recommended by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and some additional funds added at the last moment. This gave the university the best budget it has had in five years." But one successful effort does not a quality university make, Andersen said, and he urged senators and the campus community to participate in another campaign. The impression in Springfield is that "we were treated royally" last year, and "we're taken care of," he said. "Yet that budget barely brought us back to the level of fiscal year 1991," and "the new state funds this year provide only a small percentage of dollars more than the 1993 rescission took away." Even with the increase for this year, he said, the share of state general revenue funds for higher education continued to drop. As the initial step in the new effort, the senate approved five recommendations from the Budget Committee: oSupporting the 1995-96 budget recently approved by the UI Board of Trustees as the minimum that must be achieved from general revenue funds, "including at least a 4 percent increase in the personnel base and the funds to restore a portion of the faculty lost during recent years." oRecognizing the contribution made by increased funds for this year, but noting that increased support will be needed over several years to meet accumulated needs. oGiving approval to the Budget Committee to work in concert with the chair of the Senate Council and individual senators, faculty members and students to contact the governor, lieutenant governor, executive director of the IBHE and their staffs "to arrange meetings to discuss the needs of the campus." oUrging "every member of the university community to undertake specific efforts to reach relevant individuals in the executive branch and the IBHE to express the need for greater support of higher education and this campus specifically." oUrging deans and department heads "to develop and communicate to their faculty and staff members and students specific information on the benefits that will accrue to the unit were the university to receive the budget recommended by the Board of Trustees." To aid in the effort, the Budget Committee supplied information and data to support the university's case, along with addresses for state officials. Andersen advised that anyone writing to state officials should avoid writing anything that resembles a form letter, and should try to supply specifics related to their individual units. Specifics on what can or cannot happen in a given unit, depending on the level of funding, are what make letters especially effective, he said. Stephen Ross, a professor of law and member of the Budget Committee, said one impediment to supplying those specifics is that faculty members often are not in on the budget process, and therefore don't know what the consequences will be. It is reasonable for faculty members to ask for those specifics, making the effort a cooperative one, he said.