Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

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Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

Cassie Buchman, News Editor
March 21, 2017
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The Faculty Senate discussed the report it sent to the administration reviewing Workgroup No.7’s recommendations on academic programs and passed a resolution supporting a Teach Out at its meeting Tuesday.

The Faculty Senate had created a subcommittee in February to review the recommendations on the programs in Africana studies, philosophy, and career and technical education, which were recommended for deletion or consolidation by Workgroup No.7. In its report, the subcommittee determined that the three programs should be given time and encouraged to enact the structural changes currently underway instead of being eliminated.

“Dismantling these three programs or otherwise enforcing Workgroup No.7’s recommendations would at this time likely result in more harm than good,” according to the report. The Faculty Senate believes that EIU can ill afford at this juncture to eliminate programs without a demonstrated benefit to the long-term fiscal and/or academic health of this university.”

The committee found that the Africana studies program is in discussion with the Latin American studies, Asian studies and women’s studies programs to consolidate some current offerings and find innovative programming to meet the needs of the current student population.

“It would better serve our institution to allow these changes to be driven by faculty aware of the needs, strengths, and challenges of their programs and the ways that diverse programs can work together, than to make an arbitrary ‘top-down’ edict that would enforce an elimination or consolidation of a major,” the report said.

For career and technological education, the subcommittee found the program has shown strong enrollment numbers until the year 2013. Though the program has seen low enrollment in recent years, the subcommittee wrote, there is high demand in the field for workers with a career and technological education skill set.

“Such strong numbers of graduating students (until very recently), coupled with promising job prospects, would indicate that eliminating CTE is premature at this time,” the committee wrote.

Regarding philosophy, the subcommittee wrote that eliminating it would lead to a loss of credibility as a university and that the program has the best student-credit-hour production in the College of Arts and Humanities.

Like the Africana studies program, philosophy has also been engaged in conversations with related programs to develop new interdisciplinary programs.

In its notes on Workgroup No. 7’s budgetary analyses, the subcommittee wrote that both philosophy and Africana studies generate significant profits when examining program profit/loss analyses by “major regardless of subject.”

Faculty Senate chair Jemmie Robertson said it seems like various committees, including the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review committee, which looked at the philosophy program, all believe that philosophy is central to the university’s mission and core values.

The Faculty Senate’s final report was sent to Eastern President David Glassman, Provost Blair Lord and the Board of Trustees.

Lord thanked the Faculty Senate for the feedback at the meeting and said no final decisions have on these programs have been made.

“There is still an ongoing consideration process,” Lord said.

He did report that the president’s council has been going through recommendations from the other vitalization project workgroups.

When making the report, Faculty Senate member CC Wharram said the subcommittee read through recommendations from the Workgroup and interviewed various representative and departments.

“We thought about some of the ramifications instead of just looking at the data,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the Faculty Senate voted to pass a resolution supporting a Teach Out for Illinois Higher Education members of the EIU-UPI are attending in response to a lack of funding for state universities and colleges.

The statewide Teach Out will include universities, community colleges and other coalition partners.

The Teach Out will involve taking students and faculty to the rotunda in the Springfield Capital so they could teach in the building.

Jon Blitz, president of the EIU-UPI, said there will be buses rented for people who want to go.

“We’re going to teach there, basically make a show of it, that we can’t do this anymore,” Blitz said.

To explain the reasoning behind the Teach Out, Blitz gave a presentation about how higher education funding in Illinois has been cut throughout the years and the effect it has had.

According to a chart Blitz showed, the total number of full-time employees dropped by about 35 percent from 2006 to 2016, and the number of civil service employees dropped by about 45 percent during the same time.

In his presentation, Blitz said that when adjusted for inflation, the average state appropriation to Eastern from 1973 to 2015 was $57.8 million.

For 2015, the last year with a state appropriation, Eastern received $43 million, which is 26 percent below this average.

When it comes to losing state-level funding, Blitz said, higher education is one of the areas that is worst off.

When comparing the FY 2015 enacted budget to FY 2016 maximum authorized spending, higher education took the biggest hit in education, with a 67.8 percent cut.

K-12 education was cut by 1.1 percent, while early childhood education funding increased by 7.5 percent.

“We’re being singled out; the data shows that,” Blitz said.

Nationally, from 2000 to 2015, in fifteen of the largest states, Illinois lost 54 percent in per-student funding. The only state doing worse was Arizona, until Illinois stopped receiving an appropriation.

Faculty Senate member Billy Hung asked the senate to consider telling their students about the Teach Out and let them make up work for the missed day.

“We have to fight for what we believe in, and part of that fighting has to be getting warm bodies at these events to have a show of support because they are elected officials who decide how the money is spent, and they need to feel the pressure from their electorate,” Hung said.

However, Faculty Senate member Amy Rosenstein said there is already an erroneous perception that people in higher education can do their job anywhere and do not work hard enough and suggested broadcasting to legislators the work professors do on campus.

“Someone needs to let the public know we’re working our butts off here,” she said. “I feel like that needs to be out there.”

Faculty Senate member Todd Bruns said anyone who thinks faculty members are lazy is going to think that regardless of the Teach Out.

“This is an opportunity for us to go to Springfield and talk to legislators to argue the point (Rosenstein’s) raising, which is how much work we do, how much these investments are needed,” Bruns said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or cjbuchman@eiu.edu.

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Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

NIU cracks top 10 among Illinois colleges

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A school that offers the opportunities of a large university while providing the personalized experience of a small college belongs on a Top 10 list.

That is why Northern Illinois University is ranked third among public colleges and universities in Illinois, and ninth overall on the College Choice list of the 25 Best Colleges in Illinois.

College Choice, an independent online publication that helps students select the right college, found a lot to like at NIU. They were impressed with the range of programs (57 undergraduate majors, 73 minors) and the outstanding programs in areas as diverse as accountancy, nursing and steel drum performance.

That quality and diversity, they noted, translates into an excellent return on investment, pointing out that successful NIU alumni can be found in high-level posts all over the country. They work as partners in major accounting firms, as television producers, as judges and as executives in a wide range of industries.

Best of all, according to College Choice, NIU provides those big-school benefits with a personal touch. They specifically noted the First- and Second-Year Experience programs that help pave the way to success for new students. However, those are just a start. NIU students also can work one-on-one with faculty on research from year one, find hands-on learning opportunities in hundreds of classes and have opportunities to study abroad, work internships, participate in more than 200 clubs and organizations, and make the world a better place through volunteerism locally, nationally and globally.

If you want to learn more about the Top 10 experience provided at NIU, join us for an upcoming open house or schedule a visit to campus.

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NIU cracks top 10 among Illinois colleges

Illinois parolees: Often undereducated, unemployed — and soon back behind bars

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Justin McDowell was 17 when he and a confederate shotgunned their way into a downstate Allendale, Ill., home, held a couple and their infant daughter at gunpoint and stole $300 and the keys to the family’s black Chevy Impala. Like so many youth felonies, it was a stupid, tragic act. When McDowell was arrested a year later in 2002, he was working episodically for little money, laying foundations beneath double-wide trailer homes. He had no plans to return to school. The judge gave him 36 years.

By the time McDowell is eligible for parole in 2020, having served half his sentence, he will have cost Illinois taxpayers more than $396,000 — the cumulative price of his incarceration. Will it prove an efficient investment for a state experiencing a severe budget crisis? It ought to, given McDowell’s evolving eagerness over the past seven years to pursue an education and turn his life around. But for the Centralia Correctional Center inmate, now 33, the question remains open — as it does for most of the more than 40,000 men and women currently incarcerated in Illinois prisons.

Last March, McDowell lost an important building block toward reconfiguring his life when Kaskaskia College summarily, indefinitely and reluctantly suspended the in-prison degree program it had administered at Centralia since 1983, and in which McDowell was enrolled. At the time, McDowell was more than halfway toward earning an associate’s degree in general education. He previously had completed a six-month vocational tech program in construction management, earning straight A’s. “He’d been on a waiting list for almost two years, trying to get into that course,” Steve Mandrell, his Kaskaskia professor, recalled. Mandrell found him so impressive, he later hired him as a teacher’s aide.

Kaskaskia ended its program because the Illinois Department of Corrections, as a result of the state’s ongoing budget crisis, had stopped payment on its three-year, roughly $1.2 million contract with the school. According to George Evans, Kaskaskia’s dean of career and technical education, McDowell was one of approximately 1,400 prisoners the school has educated over the years.

The rehabilitative cost of ending post-secondary education opportunities for prisoners such as McDowell is substantial. “I went and talked to him the day before I left (my teaching position at Centralia),” Mandrell recalled. “He was telling me how wrong it was to not be able to complete his degree. He said, ‘There may be something I can do as far as a job, and this is going to hinder that.'”

But there is an accompanying, steep price the rest of us pay.

As of July 2015, McDowell was one of about 41,000 men and women interred in Illinois correctional centers, at a combined, annual taxpayer cost of close to $1 billion.

According to a 2015 Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council study, about 97 percent ultimately will be released, through parole or completion of sentence — including those convicted of violent crimes. It is not unusual for a murderer to get 40 years and win parole after serving 20.

The same study found that 19 percent of those released recidivate within a year, 48 percent in three years. IDOC paroled about 30,000 prisoners in 2013, according to an NBC report. That means roughly 14,400 could possibly return to prison. The cost of housing, feeding and caring for a single prisoner varies among the state’s 25 correctional centers, but averaged around $23,000 a year in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Based on all those figures, the taxpayer cost of housing people who recidivate, alone, is more than $331 million annually.

Factor in court costs, law enforcement costs and the social and economic losses suffered by new victims of parolees’ crimes, and the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council study estimated in 2015 that the total cost of recidivism in Illinois over the next five years would be $16.7 billion.

The best chance to break the recidivism cycle, a 2013 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Justice Department found, is by offering prisoners access to a college-level education. According to the study, those who took classes while incarcerated were 43 percent less likely to recidivate.

Yet Illinois’ in-prison college programs are disappearing at an alarming rate. Around the time Kaskaskia ended its program, and for the identical reason, Richland Community College did the same. Danville Area Community College eliminated its vocational offerings.

Evans, the Kaskaskia dean, can’t find the logic in it. “Over a three-year study, the highest recidivism rate we had was 10 percent in our culinary program,” he said. “The lowest was 6 percent in the electronics program. Compare that to the 51.2 percent of those receiving no training whatsoever. Look at the (potential) savings. That has been presented numerous times to the DOC. It has fallen on deaf ears.”

As the community college programs neared their end, the students — prisoners — began a letter-writing campaign, to the IDOC, to their state legislators, to the governor. “The governor’s office was flooded with letters from inmates,” Evans said. “The inmates filed grievances. We had gang members who came in and said, ‘I got kids. I was a punk (when I was arrested), and my goal here is to make sure I never come back here.’ It did no good. They (state and prison officials) just do not take education seriously. They may say that they do, but don’t when it comes down to it.”

A year has passed since Mandrell last taught at Centralia. He still worries about the effect the program’s dissolution has had on McDowell. “My class was the first college course he took,” Mandrell said. “About halfway through, it’s like he softened up. Before, he was very negative — you know, ‘I’m never going to be able to get a very good job, because I’ve got this on my rap sheet.’ Then he started talking positive. ‘You know, if I can do this, then I know I can make a living. I know I can go back into society and be productive.'”

Ron Berler is the author of “Raising the Curve: Teachers, Students – A True Portrayal of Classroom Life.”

Illinois parolees: Often undereducated, unemployed — and soon back behind bars

Senate panel backs EIU tuition-discount program

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SPRINGFIELD — An Eastern Illinois University program aimed at attracting more students from lower-middle- and middle-income families was approved for an extension Wednesday by an Illinois Senate committee.

The Panther Promise program, which provides tuition discounts of up to $2,500 to more than 400 students at the Charleston-based university, would get an extension to the 2022-2023 academic year under legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

A $2,500 discount covers about one-fifth of a student’s approximately $11,200 for tuition and fees, he said.

Panther Promise is available to students from households with an annual income ranging from $33,000 to $71,000, or 151 percent to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It’s targeted at those families that make too much to qualify for MAP grants and other aid but who have a real need for assistance because of other circumstances,” said Righter, who called the program “a fabulous success” because it has brought in additional tuition revenue.

The program is in its fourth year and has helped EIU become more cost-competitive and stem further enrollment losses at the university, said Katie Anselment, the university’s director of constituent relations.

“It is going very well,” she told members of the Senate Higher Education Committee, which approved the legislation (SB 930) unanimously.

Senators asked how else they could help EIU, which has lost enrollment in recent years, like many other Illinois public universities.

“The budget would be the best thing to do,” said Anselment. “We need a budget so that we can start planning our future year to year.”

The committee also approved SB 83, which requires any private university in Illinois with a student who receives a state-provided MAP grant to file a report annually with the state Department of Central Management Services. The two-page report would require a name of the university’s contact for its supplier diversity program and its goals for supplier diversity.

Also Wednesday the Senate Government Reform Committee approved a bill (SB 685) that would allow counties to award pay increases to state’s attorneys and public defenders beyond the sums allowed by the Compensation Review Act.

The county government would have to bear the full cost of the pay raise.

Sponsor Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, said that state’s attorneys and public defenders haven’t received a pay raise since 2008.

State’s attorney pay rates vary by county size, but in Champaign County the prosecutor is paid about $167,000 annually.

Senate panel backs EIU tuition-discount program

John A. Logan College celebrates its 35,000th graduate

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CARTERVILLE — On June 13, 1970, 53 people graduated from John A. Logan College.

It was the College’s first graduation after it was established in 1967. To add perspective, that date was also the last time the Beatle’s would have a song reach No. 1, “The Long and Winding Road.”

Comparatively, the college, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has had a long and winding road of success, culminating with its 35,000th graduate this past December.

That person was Emily Jack, a 2013 graduate of Marion High School.

“To imagine that 35,000 people have obtained diplomas and certificates from John A. Logan College and that those people have gone on to use their education to better their lives is an astounding thought,” said Tim Williams, dean of Student Services at John A. Logan College. “By being the 35,000th person to graduate from the College, Emily is a great representative of what the College can do for someone’s life.”

Eighteen months earlier, Jack had enrolled in the Cardiac Sonography Program at John A. Logan College. As she stepped onto the College’s campus, she had no idea where her education was about to take her. This week, she began working at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which is ranked among the nation’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.

“You can’t imagine how excited I am to be working at one of the best hospitals in America,” Jack said. “I’m very proud to be here, to be hired to work at a hospital that provides world-class care.”

Jack praised Valerie Newberry, coordinator and instructor of the College’s Cardiac Sonography Program, for her teaching skills and encouragement.

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“She’s outstanding,” Jack said of Newberry. “I had a great experience at Logan.”

Said Jack, “I would recommend John A. Logan College to anyone. I think it is a really, really great school.”

The Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography Program is a full-time career program that addresses the growing demand for highly trained, well-educated sonographers. The sonographer utilizes high frequency sound waves to produce visual images of the body. Echocardiography evaluates the anatomy and hemodynamics of the heart, its valves, and related blood vessels. The professional level of this health care service requires highly skilled and competent individuals who function as integral members of the health care team.

In order to graduate the program, the sonographer must be able to produce and evaluate ultrasound images and related data that are used by physicians to render a medical diagnosis. Diagnostic sonography serves a diverse population in a variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, and veterinary offices. The goal of sonography is to produce the best diagnostic information possible with available resources. The curriculum is an extremely active one in which the student is responsible for maintaining academic requirements on campus, as well as participating in an internship at clinical affiliates. A strong math and physics background is suggested. The program’s primary goal is to prepare competent entry-level cardiac sonographers in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills) and affective (behavior) learning domains.

“Providing high-quality education that allows our graduates to go on and be successful anywhere they choose to go is what makes me proudest as dean of students at John A. Logan College,” Williams said. “The fact that this institution has been doing that for 50 years and has helped the lives of 35,000 people should be a sense of pride to anyone who has ever been a part of this College.”

John A. Logan College celebrates its 35,000th graduate