“I would like to update the Board on a couple of items. There was a conference held in Champaign/Urbana on September 29 on the subject of ‘Diversity After Michigan: Where Do We Go From Here?’ This conference was co-sponsored by the Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Affirmative Officers Action Group with the purpose of reviewing and interpreting the Supreme Court rulings on the University of Michigan lawsuits.
“The conference was served by Chancellor Nancy Cantor from the University of Illinois-Champaign. She spoke with understanding and passion about her experience at the University of Michigan where she previously served as Provost. She stressed a very important theme that carried us through the day -- the importance of the social contracts between students as a component of learning and how diversity promotes these. She urged the audience to celebrate the Supreme Court rulings that provide for the use of race and ethnic criteria in institutional decision-making. Dr. Cantor’s remarks were brilliant.
“We also heard from Ms. Patricia Mendoza, Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. She addressed the reasons why the Illinois Attorney General wrote an amicus brief upholding the University of Michigan’s position on diversity. In the discussion following her remarks, it was noted that the IBHE had made a strong commitment to diversity, particularly in its Committee on Access and Diversity’s report.
“Art Coleman, a leading national voice on diversity, spoke on how the Court’s ruling affects higher education policies and employment.
“This conference is a good foundation for continuing work to be sponsored by the Board and in which the Board will directly participate. On October 15-17, 2003, Chicago State University will host the annual fall conference offered by the Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education. University and legislative leaders, such as Elnora Daniels and Senator Emil Jones, will be speaking at the conference, as well as Chairman Kaplan and myself. We hope to contribute to the optimism that was expressed at UIUC, and we are doing that because of the deep passion and leadership this Board has embraced on the subject of diversity. These kind of initiatives are important to the growth and development of our higher education system.”
5. Advisory Committee Reports
Chairman Kaplan recognized Allan Karnes, representing the Faculty Advisory Council. Mr. Karnes said, “The Faculty Advisory Council is concerned that average faculty salaries at the public, private, and community college levels lag even further behind their peers than they did in 1999 before the Board began its Recruitment and Retention of Critical Faculty Initiative. All of the loss of ground occurred in 2003. We do understand that we are in difficult economic times. We call on the Board to vigilantly monitor and take appropriate action to reverse this trend as soon as the budget allows.
“We would like to make some comments on the review of The Illinois Commitment. We have three recommendations. First, make the process more inclusive. Add a faculty member, a president or chancellor, a graduate student, and an undergraduate student to the Committee as a Whole. Mission statements and strategic plans are more readily accepted if there is a perception that they were developed in an open and inclusive manner. In addition, these proposed representatives may be able to assist the Board in securing support of the finished product.
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