Give Now

Delays, Closings and Severe Weather - View All Alerts and Updates

IU Faculty Worries New Laws Indicate Legislative Overreach

Two state bills aim to increase efficiency in higher education in Indiana, and some Indiana University faculty members are concerned about the consequences.

IU faculty

Photo: Simon Thompson

A group of IU faculty members including Dennis Groth, IU Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies (middle), and Herbert Terry, president of the Indiana University Bloomington Faculty Council (far right), discuss the implications of two laws that go into affect in the next two years.

Some Indiana University faculty members are warning that a new set of standards set to go into effect next year are an overreach of the Indiana legislature.

Starting next year, universities in Indiana are being required to change some of their practices in an attempt to help more students graduate in four years.

Senate Enrolled Act 182 establishes a core set of classes by 2015 that students can complete at two-year institutions to waive general education requirements at four-year universities.

House Bill 1348 mandates that by 2014 every student enrolled in a public higher education program will have a degree map that outlines objectives for graduation in four years.

At a panel discussion Monday night, Herbert Terry, president of the Indiana University Bloomington Faculty Council, said he is concerned that the legislation gives the Indiana General Assembly more power over higher education affairs than is necessary.

“My concern is we are gradually, to be honest, incrementally increasing the role of the Commission for Higher Education through both of these bills,” he says. “Each of these bills has given some new authority, to ultimately approve or disapprove of some of the things these institutions will do in response to this legislation.”

Terry says he doesn’t think any member of the General Assembly intends to harm higher education. He says it is the responsibility of higher education institutions to approach the General Assembly with their own legislative ideas.

“It’s time that the institutions, if we can, step forward more often and say here’s our idea, and here’s why we think it’s better than other ways of proceeding, and not lobby to change somebody else’s legislation, but actually more often propose our own.”

The legislation itself, however, has many supporters. Dennis Groth, IU Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, says the laws will have positive impacts on both students and faculty.

“Indiana University’s approach to addressing these legislative actions is to actually empower students to make informed choices, to own their degree in more significant ways, that it will retain the ability for the faculty to define what the degrees are and what it means to get a Bloomington degree,” he says.

The legislation was created after a study commissioned by Tom Reilly, Chair of the IU Board of Trustees, found that higher education in Indiana is around 50 percent less efficient than states like California and Illinois.

Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has studied anthropology and digital journalism. She has professional experience in education and communications and is excited to be a part of the award-winning team at WFIU/WTIU.

View all posts by this author »

  • Christine Darling

    Two thoughts:

    1) If this legislation helps IU become more “efficient,” as the Trustee’s study suggested, then so be it. It struck me as…interesting, unfortunate, odd…that IU had not thought to do something like degree mapping on their own. Does it really take the Indiana General Assembly to make you do something so logical, and something that was certainly never around when I was a Bloomington student 30 years ago? Degree mapping would have been very helpful to me as an undergrad. As it was, I was virtually drop-kicked into that maze and left to my own survival instincts to get through.

    2) On the flip side, if the Indiana General Assembly wants to continue their Big Brother presence with Indiana’s institutions of higher learning, then they need to allocate more tax dollars to those institutions. Having this kind of power – while only funding public universities at what, 30% these days? if that? – is just a little unbalanced from my perspective.

  • Fish

    Christine, IU has already done exactly that during Myles Brand’s tenure. Every school created degree maps that were used by academic advisors to help their students understand what they needed to be doing to help them graduate in four years. Of course, when they come in during Freshman Orientation and tell you that they’re “on the 5-year plan”, there is not a whole lot you can do (except ask, as I always did, jokingly, “Do your parents know that?”)

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Politics Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook