UI Senate seeks more info on Global Campus

URBANA -- University of Illinois faculty are pressing administrators for more information about online education plans.

The UI Senate on Monday unanimously endorsed a resolution that essentially asks President B. Joseph White and Special Assistant Chet Gardner for more detailed academic plans about Global Campus, the online education initiative announced earlier this year.

Global Campus is proposed to be set up as a limited liability company that would eventually share profits with university units. It would offer bachelor's and master's degrees and certificate programs online. Courses, developed with colleges at UI campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, would last about eight weeks.

"It's not a 'Hell no, we won't go' kind of attitude," said Richard Schacht, philosophy professor and chairman of the Senate's General University Policy Committee, which recommended the resolution. Instead, the message is, if the university is going to launch the Global Campus, what would the delivery system be like, Schacht asked.

If UI colleges, departments and faculty are going to be involved in developing the courses, what classes are Global Campus organizers considering offering in the program's early years, added Schacht.

UI spokesman Tom Hardy said White intends to provide the academic plans to faculty by Dec. 1.

Provost Linda Katehi told faculty and students who attended Monday's meeting that she and several deans and unit heads have met recently with Gardner and White regarding the development and implementation as well as risks and opportunities of Global Campus.

"There is an effort to bring some collaboration forward as we try to develop the model," Katehi said.

The resolution approved Monday "does not indicate any kind of endorsement on the Global Campus program model or the delivery system," Schacht said.

"That's something we (the UI Senate) will consider next month," he said.

In response to the unveiling of Global Campus earlier this summer, the UI Senate, a campus legislative body of 200 faculty and 50 students, established a special task force to examine the proposal. Its members are analyzing the plans. Several other committees, including the Senate's Executive Committee, have also taken up the topic.

The UI Senate is expected to discuss Global Campus again at its next meeting on Dec. 4.

Ultimately, the final decision on whether or not -- and how -- the Global Campus initiative moves forward will rest with the UI Board of Trustees, as Schacht pointed out at the meeting.

Trustees are expected to receive an update on Global Campus at their Nov. 9 meeting in Springfield, but no action on the proposal is scheduled, Hardy said.

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