UI Police Training Institute could face June 30 closing

URBANA — A closing date of June 30 has been set for the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, pending approval from UI trustees.

A city council resolution notwithstanding, top UI administrators Thursday reiterated their intent to ask for a vote on shuttering the institute at the May 31 board of trustees meeting in Chicago. A board committee previewed the agenda item Thursday.

The Urbana City Council this week approved a resolution drafted by Mayor Laurel Prussing urging the state to keep PTI open. State Rep. Chapin Rose and other legislators continue to lobby on behalf of the institute, which was established by the Legislature in 1955.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise said she is sympathetic to PTI's supporters but said the university can't afford to continue subsidizing the program.

"We've always said if it were adequately funded ... we'd be happy to keep it open," Wise said. "We don't have solid financial support."

The state provides general revenue funding for PTI, but the UI still kicks in $625,000 annually for its operations, down from a high of $1.2 million, campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

UI President-designate Robert Easter said he can't justify using tuition dollars to support a program that isn't part of the UI's core academic mission.

"I know there are many members of our community who are supportive of this," Wise said, noting the feedback she and Easter have heard since she announced the program's intended closure last month. "But we're not going to use tuition dollars to do that."

Recalling the public outcry over the UI's decision to close the Institute of Aviation, Trustee Pamela Strobel received assurances that administrators would provide a rationale for the PTI decision at the May 31 meeting.

"I just want to be sure we're responsive and as ready as we can be," Strobel said Thursday.

The UI's decision to close PTI came a little more than a month after the state board that sets the standards for police training, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, voted not to certify the institute's basic law enforcement training class. The practical effect of that decision meant PTI could no longer offer classes for new officers for the rest of this year.

The board is working with Western Illinois University to develop certifiable classes to replace those that had been offered at PTI.

Prussing argues that move would be more costly for Urbana, the UI and other local governments that will have to pay for travel and lodging costs to send its officers across the state. She has said the board's decisions are based on "money and petty politics."

The board's executive director, Kevin McClain, said last week he has a "deep fondness" for PTI but the university decided the institute didn't fit within its mission and the board felt it was time to "move on."

Also Thursday, trustees and administrators discussed the need for improved communication between trustees and UI faculty, perhaps scheduling regular face-to-face meetings between board and faculty representatives.

Easter suggested that the board designate one to three trustees as "liaisons" for each of the three campuses.

"We need to have clear lines of frequent communication," Easter said.

When those conversations take place and actions are transparent, he said, people feel they've had an opportunity to contribute to a decision even if they disagree with it.

"We're coming off a period where I just think we've sort of lost that communication," said UI Trustee James Montgomery.

Strobel agreed, saying the board should ensure that faculty members know "they're being listened to."

Months of rancor between faculty and outgoing President Michael Hogan over initiatives to centralize enrollment management and other aspects of administration culminated in March with Hogan's resignation, which will take effect July 1. Faculty leaders complained they were not adequately consulted about Hogan's decisions, though he disputed that.

The board had centralized the reporting lines from the campuses through the president's office after the Category I scandal, in which former trustees were found to have directly pressured Urbana campus officials to admit scores of politically connected but less-qualified students.

Easter said whatever is set up now should involve "appropriate communications" and be open and transparent enough so that "everyone knows these conversations are going on."

Comments

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rsp wrote on May 18, 2012 at 8:05 am

Open communication as long as it doesn't include getting PTI on a solid financial footing. It's like they're in their own little worlds and the bigger picture is missing. It's no wonder so many things are messed up when it's all about waiting for the other party to come up with the fix. Or was it really about looking for a way to kill a valuable program all along regardless of the funding? 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 18, 2012 at 10:05 am

Your right; but the U of I needs the money to pay Dr. Hogan's, and Dr. Troyer's salaries.  There is, also, the expense of consulting firms for the search of a new university president.  There is an added expense for the catered lunches of the trustees, their travel expenses, and lodging.  The money is just not there for a training program that improves law enforcement for the citizens.  After all; it is a state problem, not the problem of higher administration in a state university.

rsp wrote on May 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

You're right, I wasn't thinking. It's amazing that another school thinks they can afford to do it. Oh wait...not the U of I.

catch22 wrote on May 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Oh but the U of I can spend millions on Coaches for sports teams and everything else under the sun but a whooping 600,000 (drop in the bucket) hits them in the pocket book?

U of I is controlled by liberals who don't like the police or the military. What happened about giving back to the Community? People from all over the state come to this for excellent training. The whole state of Illinois is going to suffer because of Wise's unwise decision. These are the kind of decisions that are killing this country.
'Isn't part of the school's academic mission or geared toward students.' It's rather ironic when PTI hosted Police exchange for over ten years to one of the constabularies over in England. Then there was the Russian exchange, and Chinese among others. It's funny folks across the pond found PTI academic and took ideas back with them such as the Crime Stoppers program.

And just fyi when PTI had surplus monies several years back the U of I came in and swept the funds. I concur with the Urbana Mayor...petty politics and money is causing this to happen. Don't believe a word out of McClain's mouth. He has had disdain for PTI for several years and one of his staff was let go from PTI and has an ax to grind. Decertifying PTI was the kiss of death just when law enforcement agencies were hiring due to attrition and had scheduled classes with PTI.

So combined with the U of I liberal agenda by its higher ups and a steely knived e training is dead. Brutus McClain wanting to look good for his boss Gov. Quinn. ET TU BRUTE?

So my friends, PTI, the Julius Caesar of police training is dead.

Well I can tell you this ain't none of my money is ever going to spent at the U of I, if PTI closes and I am not alone.  And all the businesses, whether it be hotels, restaurants, retail stores etc..will suffer.  Easter and Wise ever hear of the big picture?  Thanks for giving back to the community.  See you in Chicago for the Occupy protests.