from the Illinois Board of Higher Education

December 8, 1998

Contact: Ross Hodel, 217/782-2551

Don Sevener, 217/782-3632



SPRINGFIELD - A $2.4 billion budget that invests in the needs and aspirations of Illinois citizens - for jobs, for affordable college credentials, for high quality schools and colleges and universities - will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education at its December 15, 1998 meeting at the Swiss˘tel in Chicago.

The IBHE staff budget recommendations target goals of the Citizens' Agenda for Higher Education, the strategic planning initiative developed with the aid of surveys of students, citizens, employers, and opinion leaders throughout the state. Budget priorities include promoting higher education's role in sustaining strong economic growth, improving teaching and learning at all levels of education, ensuring that college remains affordable, increasing the educational attainment of citizens, bolstering the quality of academic programs, and strengthening productivity.

"Education has never been more important to the well-being of our citizens than it will be in the coming century," Jerry D. Blakemore, chairman of the Board of Higher Education, said. "This budget recognizes that importance and propels us on a sensible but bold course."

The budget recommendations, which the Board of Higher Education will act on before forwarding to the Governor and General Assembly, call for spending $2.4 billion, an increase of $167.8 million in general revenue funds, or 7.5 percent, over fiscal 1999 appropriations.

"This fiscal 2000 budget is a commitment to the citizens of Illinois that we will be about their business," Keith R. Sanders, Executive Director of the IBHE, said. "We have sought the views of our students, those who employ our graduates, and those who pay the bill, and this budget reflects their goals for higher education in Illinois."

Highlights of the staff recommendations for the FY2000 operating budget include:

Responding to the needs of workers and employers

In a world of fast-changing occupational demands, few occupations have experienced the explosive growth as information technology (IT) in recent years. This budget will produce an additional 1,900 IT graduates over the next four years, beginning in fiscal 2000. To answer the economic needs of Illinois, the budget proposes spending:

Promoting partnerships: From preschool to grad school

When citizens and opinion leaders were asked to rate the importance of various goals for higher education, none ranked higher than "Improve the preparation of teachers." These budget recommendations promise to build partnerships between higher education and elementary and secondary schools to produce a system of schooling that is "seamless" from pre-kindergarten to college. To advance "P-16"; partnerships, as they are known, this budget recommends:

Ensuring that college remains affordable

When citizens were asked to rate the importance of college affordability, 79 percent said: "Very," a sentiment echoed in the survey of opinion leaders of Illinois. To honor the pledge that no Illinois citizen will be denied a college education because of financial need, the budget proposes to:

Improving quality in college classrooms

More than eight in ten employers say they are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the overall skills and knowledge of recently hired college graduates. But they also say they want improvement. Asked to rate the importance of various goals contained in the Citizens' Agenda, 86 percent of employers said graduating students better prepared for the workforce was "very important." The quality of undergraduate education has long been a priority for the Board of Higher Education. These budget recommendations reaffirm that commitment by proposing to spend:

Increasing access and success in college studies

Although the world increasingly demands college credentials for economic success, barriers to a college education remain for many people. Some cannot go to college because they are bound by employment, family obligations, or other responsibilities. Others find barriers to their success once they reach the classroom. This budget seeks to expand access and promote success by:

The budget presented to the Board also includes $320 million in capital improvements, also designed to promote the aims of the Citizens' Agenda. Prominent among the recommendations for capital improvements are:

"These budget recommendations will enable our colleges and universities to enter a new century armed with the tools and guided by the goals that will help us advance the economic well-being of our citizens," Sanders said.

In other matters at its December meeting, the Board will act on a plan for establishing the University Center of Lake County. Board members will review recommendations concerning the University Center’s mission, governance, facilities and operations, and programs.

The Board also will hear presentations on the Citizens' Agenda, in preparation for action on the strategic plan at its February meeting. Executive Director Sanders will brief the Board on progress in refining goals and strategies for the Citizens' Agenda. In addition, Board members will receive reports on surveys of citizens, employers, and opinion leaders that were undertaken to assess their satisfaction with higher education and solicit their views on future directions for colleges and universities. A report on a survey of students will be presented to the Board in February.