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July 26, 2010

Commission Formed to Rethink Higher Ed Finance

National experts to assist new panel in review of funding trends, best practices in other states, new models to link funding to statewide college completion goals

SPRINGFIELD –A new legislatively mandated commission has been named to study higher education finance in Illinois and recommend options for the General Assembly to consider to better align funding of colleges and universities with state goals.

The Higher Education Finance Study Commission, comprised of state legislators, academic finance experts, and a broad cross-section of education, business, labor, and nonprofit leaders, will hold its first meeting July 27th at the University of Illinois at Chicago Student Center.

Jane Wellman, executive director of the Delta Cost Project and a leading national expert on college funding and productivity, will be featured at the Commission’s inaugural meeting.

“We are fortunate to have a national leader of such renown as Jane Wellman help kick off this critically important study,” Carrie J. Hightman, Chairwoman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), said. “We expect the Commission’s work will be a key link in establishing a sound, stable, and adequate system for funding higher education in Illinois. This study will be a vital building block for implementation of the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success.”

The Commission was created by Senate Joint Resolution 88, sponsored by Senator Ed Maloney and Representative Fred Crespo, both of whom will serve on the panel. Other legislative members are Senator Pam Althoff and Representative Bob Pritchard. SJR 88 was passed unanimously by both the Senate and House.

“We are grateful to Senator Maloney and Representative Crespo for their foresight in proposing this valuable endeavor,” Chairwoman Hightman said, “and to Senator Althoff and Representative Pritchard for bringing their years of experience with higher education issues to the work of the Commission.”

The Commission’s purpose is to examine higher education funding and develop recommendations to the Board of Higher Education, the Governor, and the General Assembly that  will explicitly link the goals of the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success to the state’s higher education budgeting process.
The Commission’s charge is to:

  • Evaluate current funding for Illinois higher education and compare it to peer states and institutions around the nation.
  • Develop a comprehensive funding strategy that connects state appropriations, tuition policies, and need-based student aid.
  • Consider alternative funding mechanisms to advance the goals of the Illinois Public Agenda, including improved student retention, program completion, and graduation.

The finance study will be conducted over the course of five meetings during the summer and fall. Dennis Jones, president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) and a consultant in the development of the Illinois Public Agenda, will guide the process as facilitator for the Commission’s proceedings.

Other notable leaders who have agreed to address the Commission are Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, and David Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
In addition to the four legislative members, the Commission’s membership includes:

  • Al Bowman, president of Illinois State University;
  • Terry Bruce, Chancellor of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges;
  • Sunil Chand, from Benedictine University;
  • Gary Davis, former executive director of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association;
  • Omar A. Duque, President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce;
  • Brian Fabes, executive director of the Civic Consulting Alliance of Chicago;
  • Larry Frank, of the Illinois Education Association;
  • David Harby, president of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association;
  • Anne Ladky, president of Women Employed;
  • Tom Layzell, former head of higher education boards in Mississippi and Kentucky;
  • Walter McMahon, economic and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
  • Jim Palmer, professor of higher education at Illinois State University;
  • John Peters, president of Northern Illinois University;
  • Lance Pressl, president of the Chicagoland Chamber Foundation;
  • Steve Rugg, former chief financial officer, University of Illinois;
  • Brian Zucker, a higher education consultant.

In addition, IBHE Members Jay Bergman and Father John Minogue, and Sue Morris, vice chair of the Illinois Community College Board, will serve on the Commission.

“I want to express the Board’s appreciation to all the distinguished members of the Commission for giving their time, energy and expertise to this worthwhile effort,” Chairwoman Hightman said. “I am confident that the Commission will make a significant and enduring contribution to higher education in Illinois.”

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