:: Friday, August 27, 2004 ::
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, UIUC's accrediting agency, issued its report on the Chief controversy and its effects.
The team that conducted the visit reported no progress had been made toward resolving the issue, and it concluded the continued controversy over Chief Illiniwek "compromises the university's ability to meet its goals for educational effectiveness."
The "rate and amount of damage to the institution will continue to accelerate if the issue is not addressed decisively and soon," the team said.
In an addendum offering advice to the university, the team urged the board to "recognize the substantial adverse impact of this symbol upon the educational mission and success" of the UI and to retire the Chief....
...The North Central Association will schedule another visit for the 2006-07 academic year to determine the educational effect of the Chief symbol.
Its team said the faculty and campus leadership most capable of addressing the educational impact of the Chief have not publicly been consulted by the board.
The team said the use of Chief Illiniwek creates a situation where the UI might not be able to attract some new faculty recruits, and it appears likely to diminish the pool of candidates for its highest administrative offices.
The report noted the board has conducted an "enhanced dialogue" and accepted reports by former Cook County Circuit Judge Louis B. Garippo and by former Trustee Roger Plummer regarding the Chief issue.
It also said the Urbana campus has established a Native American House, added courses with American Indian content, and increased efforts to recruit minority students.
Herman and board Chairman Larry Eppley said the study will help the board in its efforts to come to a resolution of the matter.
"Our goal remains ... a solution that best serves the university rather than particular interest groups," Eppley said in a written statement.
Having been minorly involved in the whole controversy, I'll attest that it does nothing but hurt the university. However, as I've said many times before, the issue will not go away until the BoT retires the Chief once and for all; but since I don't feel like flogging that dead horse tonight, I'll just move on.
The report was also by no means complimentary to the Board of Trustees.
The three-person evaluation team created the report based on information collected during an April visit to the University, a follow-up to a 1999 visit. The follow-up visit was meant to look at the BOT's efforts to address the educational and governance issues surrounding the Chief.
The report noted that dialogue on the Chief controversy has increased since the commission's last report, but said that nothing had been done to solve the problem, creating a polarized environment.
According to the report, people on campus can be harassed because of their opinion on the Chief and potential applicants for University positions may be dissuaded by the controversy surrounding the mascot. These include the University's open positions for president and chancellor.
Because the BOT is the only group that can make any official decision on the Chief, the report focused its criticism toward it and said a lack of action on the issue shows that the BOT is not concerned about the issue's divisive and debilitating effects.
"In the absence of decisive action, the board is, in effect, saying that it prefers to face the consequences of eroding damage to the effectiveness, governance and reputation of the institution than the consequences of retiring the Chief," the report stated.
Board member Marjorie Sodermann said she disagrees with the report's accusation that the board is being passive and failing to provide leadership, but believes it does point out the major impact of the Chief issue and why it should be addressed.
I fail to see how the BoT has been anything but passive on the issue. They've been silent for years, say that they want "dialogue" when one of their own reports stated that no forseeable compromise can be met, and tabled a recent vote on the Chief twice, so that when they did vote it wasn't in Champaign and was during the summer break when students have jobs and couldn't make the meeting. Along the same lines is the next choice bit about "concensus decisions."
In a press release, BOT chair Larry Eppley said he took issue with parts of the report but agreed that the Chief is not an accreditation issue.
"The Board has been clear that any resolution of the Chief issue will be based upon consensus," Eppley said. "Our goal remains, as we have said before, a solution that best serves the University rather than particular interest groups, and Interim Chancellor Herman's approach should be an ingredient of our deliberations."
Attn Dipshit: Consensus isn't going to happen on this issue any time soon. Besides, the BoT already voted on the Chief over the summer, and that sure as hell wasn't a consensus move.
It is nice to know that an "objective" third party has found that the whole controversy is in itself a problem - something that I figured out last spring.
:: The Squire 12:20 AM :: email this post :: ::