Fundraising letters from colleges are not uncommon, but not long ago, Illinois colleges themselves got letters asking for money – from the Illinois Board of Higher Education
Fundraising letters from colleges are not uncommon, but not long ago, Illinois colleges themselves got letters asking for money – from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
A copy of a letter I saw, from CARRIE HIGHTMAN of Buffalo Grove, the IBHE chairwoman, to a community college, asked for a donation to help pay for development of a master plan and public agenda for higher education in the state.
House Joint Resolution 69, which passed both houses of the General Assembly unanimously last summer, called for the work. And a $200,000 appropriation was passed.
However, said DON SEVENER of IBHE, that money was one of the items cut when Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH used his veto pen to excise hundreds of millions of dollars from the budget finally approved by lawmakers.
“The governor’s office agreed to commit half the funds needed for the study and encouraged us to seek the balance from various stakeholders in higher education – business, labor, nonprofit foundations, associations and institutions,” Sevener said.
Thus, the appeal went out to colleges and universities across the state.
“We also have invited business associations and labor organizations to contribute if they wish,” Sevener said.
“This was not a strong-arm appeal,” he said, “but rather in the spirit of collaboration on an endeavor that has immeasurable long-term importance to the state and to higher education.”
The two-page letter from Hightman explained that the governor agreed to commit $100,000 from the state budget, which Sevener later said would include $25,000 each from IBHE, the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
“We also believe it is important that those who will benefit from this effort also show their support through some financial commitment,” the Hightman letter said.
“I am writing you to ask for financial support for this essential plan because of your commitment to strengthening our affordable, high-quality system of higher education in Illinois. A contribution of $10,000 – or whatever you are in a position to commit – would go a long way to meeting the financial requirements. Checks may be written to the Illinois Board of Higher Education …”
“Please feel free to call (IBHE) Executive Director JUDY ERWIN with any questions,” Hightman added. “She will be calling you soon to follow up on this letter.”
MICHAEL MONAGHAN, executive director of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, said all 39 community college districts – representing 48 community colleges – got such letters.
Deleting the appropriation put the IBHE in an “interesting position,” he said.
Funding for all Illinois higher ed is now down about 13 percent, in real dollars, from 2002, Monaghan said. After adjusting for inflation, the funding level is about the same as it was in 1993, he said.
Just last week, a group called the Community College Coalition for Funding was launched. Made up of associations of community college trustees and presidents, and the Cook County College Teachers Union, it will seek to persuade lawmakers and the governor to invest more in the system.
“Students are facing a much more difficult time affording the rising cost of tuition,” LESLIEFAYE GOGINS, student trustee at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, said in a news release. “Community college tuition has risen by almost 50 percent in the last five years.”
The campaign will include billboards across the state.
Anyway, Sevener said money raised for the study includes $1,000 from Lewis University, $5,000 from Midstate College in Peoria, $5,000 from Loyola University, $5,000 from Robert Morris College, $10,000 from the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, and $10,000 from the Illinois Community College Presidents Council.
Various other sources, he said, including institutions, associations and business entities, have indicated they will combine to kick in another $44,000.
Monaghan said the Hightman letter, which was sent to more than three dozen community colleges, caused a stir, but his college trustees’ group decided to give $10,000 – something he said will be raised by an assessment on the member institutions.
The head of the presidents’ group, which also gave $10,000, is former U.S. Rep. TERRY BRUCE, D-Olney, now CEO of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, a four-school system.
TOM HARDY, spokesman for the University of Illinois system, said the U of I has given $10,000 to the effort.
Among goals of the study is to see what the state must do to meet demands of employers and workers over the next 25 years, how the state can ensure access to college degrees for low-income students, and what the state must do to improve student success.
Hightman also chairs a Task Force on Higher Education and the Economy that was created by the resolution.
Sevener said the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, a nonprofit based in Boulder, Colo., is the premier consultant for state planning projects and has started work that is being paid for by contractual funds at IBHE. The names of some nominees for the task force have been forwarded to the governor’s office, and that group is to have its first meeting March 20. Current plans are for a preliminary public agenda to be released in July, and the final product should be approved by the IBHE in time for it to be forwarded to the governor and the General Assembly in late October.
Updated book on governors released
There’s a new and updated version of a great resource for that sliver of society that just loves knowing about Illinois state government and its history.
Even the name is updated from its first appearance 20 years ago as “Mostly Good and Competent Men: Illinois Governors 1818 to 1988,” by ROBERT P. HOWARD. A second edition came out in 1999, but the third is called “The Illinois Governors: Mostly Good and Competent.”
The preface to the new edition states that the new title reflects “shifts in the state’s social and political culture as we head into this new century, including the possibility that Illinoisans will one day elect a woman chief executive. We hope Howard would approve of our simple solution.”
Howard was a Statehouse fixture who died in 1989. He worked for the Associated Press and old Chicago Sun before joining the Chicago Tribune in 1944. He retired from the Trib’s Statehouse bureau in 1970 and went on to be president of the Sangamon County Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society.
The 1999 edition ended with a short chapter on GEORGE RYAN, but the new edition has full chapters on Ryan and Gov. Blagojevich, both written by New Berlin author TAYLOR PENSONEAU. Pensoneau wrote a book about the late Gov. RICHARD OGILVIE on his own and co-authored one on former Gov. DAN WALKER. The new “Mostly Good” book does a good job of reflecting recent developments, including how Blagojevich sued House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago, over timing of special sessions last year.
PEGGY BOYER LONG, a contributor to the second book and executive editor of the third, said she “streamlined” chapters about all the governors for the new version, and made sure everything was as up-to-date as possible.
“We sat on it for almost a year,” she said of the December publication, in order to get the latest on Ryan’s legal battles. The chapter on him ends with his reporting to prison in November for corruption convictions he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Long got the project done before her end-of-year retirement as executive editor of Illinois Issues magazine and director of Center Publications at the Center for State Policy & Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
The book also has a new look, with a painting of the Executive Mansion by MIKE CRAMER on the cover, and more than 100 photos not in previous editions.
The book is available from Center Publications at 217-206-6502 or http://cspl.uis.edu/centerpublications. Cost is $34.95 plus shipping and handling.
Watson's new grandchild shares birthday with Lincoln
Congratulations to Senate Republican Leader FRANK WATSON of Greenville on the birth of his first grandchild.
BRENNAN CHARLES WATSON was born to Watson’s son, CHAD, and daughter-in-law, ERIN. They live in Brentwood, Mo.
Granddad doesn’t mind adding that the new addition to the family was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at (217) 788-1540 or email@example.com.