November 14, 2014

November 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 9

APAC Hosts Town Hall with President Easter

President Robert Easter addresses the audience at the APAC Town Hall.
Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares is in foreground.
Dr. Natasha Barnes, Associate Professor, African American Studies and English,
posing a question to President Easter during the open question and answer session.
By William S. Bike
APAC HOSTED a Town Hall meeting with President Robert A. Easter on Oct. 6 in Student Center West. The event was open to all staff, faculty, and students.

APPROXIMATELY 200 people attended, with another 150 watching via live streaming online. More than 2,100 others watched the Town Hall after the fact at, where it continues to be available.

“THE INTENT of this meeting was to provide a forum for President Easter to address concerns among UIC’s faculty and staff,” said APAC member Kathleen H. Stauffer, Assistant Dean for Administration, Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement.

“QUESTIONS WERE solicited from the faculty and staff prior to the Town Hall and consolidated by topic and given to President Easter,” she noted. “President Easter answered the questions at the Town Hall and then provided 10 minutes of open question and answer period for the audience.”

PRESIDENT EASTER was introduced by APAC member Kate C. Pravera, Academic Director of the School of Continuing Studies. “We received over 60 questions from staff and faculty,” she said.

UIC strengths
IN HIS opening statement, President Easter noted that the UIC budget is larger than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) budget, and that UIC enrolls more graduate and professional students than UIUC.

HE ALSO noted that UIC is “ranked as one of the top 50 up-and-coming universities under 50 years of age—UIC is ranked 14th by the Times of London. This is a defining time for UIC—the time to move from where you are today into the next level that defines your future.”

AMONG UIC’S strengths, President Easter noted that the Chicago campus has the largest and most diverse medical school in the country, and that the Hispanic/Latino population of the UIC campus has grown to the point that it “allows us to be designated as a Hispanic/Latino-serving institution, which enables the campus to access additional federal funds,” he said.

A WEAKNESS is that the number African-American students is not as large as he would like, Easter noted, saying, “We need to be more creative as to how we approach those young people from that population.”

A UNIVERSITY-WIDE strength is that last year “we had the greatest fundraising year we ever had--$295 million from donors to the University of Illinois,” Easter said.

Personnel moves
EASTER THEN moved on to answer pre-submitted questions. He noted that the University is not only looking for a new President and that UIC is looking for a new Chancellor, but that three U of I Trustees’ terms are up in January, including that of Chair Chris Kennedy. (Governor Bruce Rauner will appoint the new Trustees.)

EASTER EXPECTS that the Chancellor’s search will be completed soon after the new President is announced, so that the new President “will have input into that decision,” he said.

A SEARCH for a Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs will begin soon, Easter added, noting, “We had an awkward situation where some of the health enterprise reported to the President and some to the [UIC] campus, so the Board decided we would change that and the whole enterprise would report to the campus. That would fall under the leadership of a Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. The next Chancellor has to participate in that [hiring] decision.”

CONCERNING A question about the resignation of former Provost Lon Kaufman, Easter noted that about a year ago, he approached Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares “with the concern that there seemed to be the lack of a team within” her administration. So this summer, she approached Easter “with the suggestion that we make a change at the Provost level,” Easter said.

EASTER NOTED that the Chancellors of the campuses report to him and “have the authority to make decisions about the team that reports to them.” Allen-Meares presented her case to Easter, he reviewed it and discussed it with Board members, and “I supported her authority in the decision that she made.”

HE THEN discussed the withdrawal of a job offer to Dr. Steven Salaita at the UICC campus. Easter said that because of Dr. Salaita’s inflammatory online posts concerning the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, he was concerned that students in Dr. Salaita’s classes might be intimidated from offering a differing view.

“WE MUST have an environment in our classrooms where students feel they can offer an opinion,” Easter said. “On that basis the decision was made.”

THE NEXT topic was on a proposed new medical school at UIUC. “The question on the table is, are we best served as a University by having an independent college in Urbana, or are we best served by maintaining the continued relationships that we have,” Easter said. “I have not come to any decision, and the board has not come to any decision.”

Civil Service conversions
EASTER THEN discussed a hot topic among Academic Professionals: Civil Service reclassification.

“UNTIL THE 1990s, the Universities were part of the Civil Service system,” Easter explained. “The change that occurred in the ‘90s was granting the University the authority to decide whether a position should be classified as Academic Professional or Civil Service.”

IN RECENT years, the State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) and Civil Service Merit Board “began auditing more closely the decisions that we were making,” Easter said. “And they were requiring a significant number of positions to be reclassified.

“THE AUDIT is now expected of all public universities in the state,” Easter continued. “When the Presidents and Chancellors of the universities meet in six weeks, we will again talk about the difficulties we are having with the rather rigorous standards that are being applied now by the Civil Service Merit Board in reclassification. We are in serious disagreement at some level with some of the decisions that are being made.

“WE DON’T dispute the authority of the Civil Service Merit Board to check what we’re doing and propose changes,” he added. “What frustrates us is the lack of clarity and the lack of understanding of why some of these changes are being made.”

HE ALSO noted that in retaining and attracting employees, “the classifications can be a problem.”

“SO I would say it’s a work in progress,” Easter said.

THE PRESIDENT then addressed the budget situation, noting that while the State ostensibly provides 14.8% of the University’s budget, with what the State contributes for employee and retiree pension and healthcare costs, “the State provides about one-third of the cost of operating the University of Illinois,” he said. “When people say the state is stingy, I like to point out that the state provides almost $2 billion per year.”

THERE IS a bill in the legislature, however, that if passed, will “begin to transfer the cost of pensions to the universities,” Easter said.

CONCERNING CASH on hand, “we could write checks for about 150 days,” Easter said. “We would like to be a bit higher than that. In 2008-09, we were in very extreme circumstances. That number almost went to zero. We need a reserve to be able to pay employees in case something catastrophic happens.”

WITH STATE appropriations per student declining since the early 1990s, tuition has been going up. “We believe we are preventing qualified students from enrolling because of the cost of tuition,” Easter said. “Of those students who are admitted, fewer and fewer are deciding to come here. It’s a disturbing trend and we believe to a significant extent that’s a result of financial challenges to the students.”

TO COMBAT that problem, the University is putting more money into financial aid for students, and has undergone a process to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

AMONG OTHER challenges Easter mentioned are declining enrollments at Illinois public universities, the likelihood that some community colleges will petition to become four-year universities, competitors from around the globe, the possible transfer of benefit costs to the University, and a non-competitive pension program for Tier 2 employees (those hired since 2011).

“WE ARE at a defining point in the history of UIC,” Easter asserted. “The world’s economy is increasingly based in 20 to 30 global cities. Chicago must be one of them. To succeed, it needs a large, world-class public university. UIC is poised to fill that role. The competition isn’t Urbana—it’s in Delhi, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the University of Sao Paolo, and Seoul National University.

“LEADERSHIP IS important, but great universities are ultimately the product of an absolute commitment to nothing short of excellence by faculty and staff,” Easter concluded.

HE THEN took questions from the audience on a variety of issues.

“I BELIEVE the President applied good wisdom to answer all the questions asked, based on is knowledge of the subject matter, at the Town Hall meeting,” said APAC member Nester Komolafe, Contract Coordinator, Office of Business and Financial Services.

UIC Senate Ratifies Council of Senates Statement of Concern Regarding Civil Service Reclassifications

THE UNIVERSITY of Illinois at Chicago Senate endorsed the Council of Illinois University Senates Statement of Concern regarding Civil Service reclassifications at its meeting on Oct. 29.

FOR SEVERAL years now, at the request of the State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS), the University of Illinois has undergone an assessment process in which many Academic Professional positions and personnel are being converted to Civil Service positions and personnel.

THE COUNCIL of Illinois University Senates features representatives from each of the Senates of the 12 public universities in Illinois: Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Illinois at Springfield, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and Western Illinois University.

THAT COUNCIL recently passed a Statement of Concern, which was ratified by the UIC Senate on Oct. 29.

THE STATEMENT reads: “The Council of Illinois University Senates is gravely concerned about the actions of the Executive Director and staff of the State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) toward reclassifying principal Administrative/Academic Professional positions within universities, as well as their adversarial audit activities and threat thereof, without adequate and widespread consultation, including with the Presidents, Chancellors, Faculty leadership, and Human Resource Directors of the respective campuses.

“THESE ACTIONS strike us as both arbitrary and capricious, and lacking in the transparency we expect from our public bodies.”

IN THE audits of UIC jobs conducted in September 2008 and in the spring of 2009, SUCSS determined that some jobs selected for review were inappropriately classified as Academic Professional (AP) positions and therefore had to be converted to an appropriate Civil Service (CS) classification.

UIC AGREED to comply with the recommendations put forth in the audit report by SUCSS, develop processes to ensure tighter position management protocols for APs, transition jobs incorrectly classified as Academic Professional to Civil Service, and evaluate and document each AP job with appropriate job descriptions.

FOR MORE about the Council of Illinois University Senates, see, call (309) 438-8735, or email

CAPE Awards Presented at Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony

Courtesy UIC News.
THE CHANCELLOR’S Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award Committee is a committee of APAC, with APAC member Ahlam Al-Kodmany, Director of Research Operations, Institute for Health Research and Policy, as the Chair.

SIX CAPE Award recipients were honored at the Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony on Nov. 4. They are Gillian J. Coombs, Director, Faculty Affairs, College of Medicine; Elizabeth Herrera, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, School of Public Health; Steven Kragon, Executive Assistant Dean, Graduate College, Administration; Karen Sholeen, Assistant Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Hugo Teruel, Director, Latino American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES), Office of Diversity; and Charu Thakral, Associate Director, Office of Diversity.

ESTABLISHED IN 1988, the CAPE Award recognizes the demonstrated excellence of Academic Professional staff and encourages their professional development. It indicates the institution’s high regard for the contributions of this key segment of the UIC community. 

APAC to Present Speed Networking Session

GET TO know other people on campus from outside your department and discover how and where they connect to make their jobs better.

APAC WILL host a Speed Networking Event on Thursday, Dec. 4, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is aimed at bringing together Academic Professionals interested in meeting their colleagues on campus, having a few minutes of one-on-one discussion to learn about what other APs are doing, and making new connections.

THE EVENT will be held in the School of Public Health (SPHPI), Room 932, 1603 W. Taylor St.

TO REGISTER,  click or contact Julie Kong at (312) 413-8508 (, Kate Pravera at (312) 413-3632 (, or Uma Sriram at (312)355-4935 (

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in Room 4175 of the College of Medicine Research Building (CMRB), 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. For information about future meetings, email be


The HALP Clinic’s Dr. Janine Rosenberg.
HALP Can Provide Help
THE UNIVERSITY offers the services of its Hyperactivity, Attention, and Learning Problems Clinic (HALP), part of Institute of Juvenile Research on the West Campus (1747 W. Roosevelt Road).

THE HALP Clinic, under the direction of clinical psychologist 
Janine Rosenberg, PhD, provides psychological testing, evaluation, parent management training, and consultation services for pre-school and school-age children, adolescents, and adults. HALP clinic addresses concerns with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning problems, and other present psychiatric disorders (such as anxiety, depression, and oppositional defiant disorder). The HALP Clinic serves Chicago and surrounding Illinois and Indiana suburbs.

HALP CLINIC services:
Diagnostic evaluation
Psychological testing (including intelligence, academic, attention, mood, behavioral, and social functioning)
Medication referrals
Follow-up psychological services (including individual and family therapy)
Parent management training
School consultation, including support for IEP and 504 plans

THE HALP Clinic accepts variety of insurances for both PPO and HMO.

CONSIDER THE HALP clinic to refer patients, family, and/or friends within the community. For more information, contact the HALP Clinic Coordinator at (312) 996-4331, or log on to


Editor’s Note: “The Continuing Crisis” is a section of APAC News which links to news pertinent to the State budget crisis and other financial matters as they affect the University and Academic Professionals. These news outlets are not affiliated with or endorsed by APAC.
MEET THE “Hedge Fund Wiz Kid” Who’s Shrinking America’s Pensions, Think Progress, Oct. 28, 2014:

ILLINOIS WORSE Off Than We Think, News-Gazette, Nov. 3, 2014:

Vol. 7, No. 9, November 2014

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Neal Lorenzi, Gail Mansfield, Susan S. Stevens, Katherine Vega, Monica M. Walk
Chair: Michael Moss
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Colleen Piersen
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar

September 23, 2014

September 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 8

UIC Staffer Forms Tech Group to Work on Pension Crisis

Dennis Roarty may be wearing a DePaul shirt, but he is a former staffer for the UIC College of Education and now consults with UIC. He has formed a tech group to work on Illinois’s pension crisis.
By Susan S. Stevens

DENIS ROARTY was looking for an educational topic to explore when he first attended an “Open Gov Hack Night” at the technology start-up 1871 Technology Center in the Merchandise Mart. Instead, as a “future retiree,” he decided to start a group that is examining Illinois’s pension problems.

THE OPEN City organization ( hosted the event, and hosts other Open Gov Hack Nights as well. Open City is a group that creates apps with open data to improve transparency and understanding of government. Open Gove Hack Nights ( are for individuals interested in building, sharing, and learning about civic technology.

A FULL-TIME software developer for the College of Education at UIC until earlier this year, Roarty now is a consultant for UIC and has begun his own company,

“I WANT to see the pension problem solved in a sane way,” Roarty said. Right now, the pension reform is so complex that it needs close examination in various ways. “It is hard for people – pensioners, taxpayers, to make any sense of it all,” he added.

“ALL WE WANT to do is create a model that is acceptable to both sides of the debate,” Roarty said. “We want to bypass all the complex formulas and rules that don’t really mean anything to those people.”

“OUR GOAL is through this modeling, taxpayers and pensioners can see clearly what portion of this $80 billion in debt is going to fall into their laps,” he added. The group is downloading data, largely actuarial reports, that are available online. By using the data, people will be able to model their own pension figures or look at the State as a whole.

ROARTY PITCHED the idea to the Open Gov group about six weeks ago in the tech center, and now has a number of collaborators. An economist, a lawyer, two data scientists, and two programmers have joined his team. Additional members are welcome to attend the sessions at that begin at 6 p.m. Tuesdays in the 1871 Technology Center in the Merchandise Mart’s Suite 1212.

FOR THE pension analysis, Roarty said, “We can see that as a good use of public data.” If the group has difficulty obtaining information, it will file Freedom of Information requests. Once all possible online information is collected, the group will move on to do models of current pension plans, proposed pension reform plans, and plans from other states. Membership guides and other outside sources will be searched. “At some point, we need to start consulting with experts,” he said. “We know that is going to be a very complex process.”

“WE WANT this to be agnostic of political views” when the group reaches its conclusions, Roarty said. “Repairing the underfunded system will impact current pensioners and taxpayers as well as future pensioners and future taxpayers. Our goal is to create a context that simplifies the complex formulas and lets pensioners and taxpayers draw their own conclusions and understandings so they can inform the political debate, not us.”

A RESEARCH assistant professor in UIC’s School of Public Health, Alexander “Sasha” Gutfraind also is a participant in Open Hack Night.

“THE OPEN Gov Hack group is unique in serving valuable public missions, while at the same time helping the hackers network and master powerful analytical tools,” Gutfraind said. “I have not found a project yet, but generally I am interested particularly in work that is relevant to public health, which is the area of my research at UIC. Perhaps I will start a new project to lead this work.”

OPEN GOV Hack Night is organized by Open City and documented by the Smart Chicago Collaborative. On a recent Tuesday, more than 50 people, most under 40 and most men, met at 6 p.m. for the opening session with free pizza. They heard a presentation from a group that explained how data has been mined for revealing which City lots will be sold for $1 to current residents of two impoverished neighborhoods. At 7 p.m., the group broke up into smaller gatherings such as Roarty’s which had a half-dozen in it.

FOR NEWCOMERS, Christopher Whitaker each week leads an orientation session to teach what civic hacking is all about. Others teach programming. Various aspects of transportation, education, the environment, and social service delivery are among the topics being probed.

FOR MORE information about the pension group, contact Roarty at or Gutfraind is at Open Gov Hack Night details are at

APAC Coordinates Town Hall with President Easter

APAC will coordinate a Town Hall meeting with President Robert A. Easter.
APAC WILL coordinate a Town Hall meeting with President Robert A. Easter on Monday, Oct. 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the M. Thompson Rooms in Student Center West. Register by Friday, Sept. 26, at

PRESIDENT EASTER will discuss the state of the University.

THE EVENT is open to all staff, faculty, staff and students, and you will have an opportunity to submit questions for President Easter during registration.

A BRIEF additional Q&A will conclude the event.

THE EVENT is coordinated by APAC ( and will be webcast at:

FOR QUESTIONS, contact Michael Moss, APAC Chair, at

Kamm Leaves APAC

DON KAMM, Assistant Director of the Office of Access and Equity, has resigned as an APAC member “due to increased work-related demands in OAE,” said Michael Moss, Chair of APAC. “Donn has played a vital role getting our Professional Development Committee established and we very much appreciate his service to APAC and the campus.”


Dispute Resolution Services Can Assist APs

By Katherine Vega

DISPUTE RESOLUTION Services (DRS) is a resource available to all staff, as well as faculty and students, that provides interpersonal counseling services for those facing conflicts in the workplace or the classroom.

“DRS PROVIDES private consultation, facilitation, and mediation services to faculty, staff, and students on a wide variety of issues,” said Kathy Irving, Assistant Equal Opportunity Officer. They work by exploring the concerns of the affected parties, meeting with the parties together, and ultimately helping the students, faculty, or staff members come up with a solution to their problem.

DRS IS a proactive program that aims to help solve problems before they grow bigger. “Its purpose is to bring parties to a mutually agreeable resolution of differences before they escalate into formal time-intense grievances, charges, or costly lawsuits,” said Irving.

PEOPLE CAN contact DRS in a wide range of situations, but early intervention is encouraged. “It is suggested that as soon as an individual believes there is unresolved conflict in the workplace, they should contact DRS for an initial consultation,” added Irving. Common issues that DRS mediators address are interpersonal conflicts, lack of communication, toxic work environments, and unclear job expectations.

DRS ENSURES that all inquiries are handled on a case-by-case basis, so there is no “typical” solution to any problem. “Because each inquiry is different…the appropriate handling of an inquiry is best determined only after an initial consultation,” concluded Irving.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION Services began operation 15 years ago and has been used successfully by all employment groups. DRS also offers team-building training and unit assessments for a small fee. To learn more about DRS or to inquire about their programs, visit or call Caryn Bills, Director for the Office of Access and Equity, at (312) 996-8670 or Kathy Irving at (312) 996-5979.


The Women’s Leadership and Resource Center and Campus Advocacy Network are located north of Roosevelt Road and east of Halsted Street just north of the UIC Forum.
Women Leadership and Resource Center/Campus Advocacy Network Move

THE WOMEN’S Leadership and Resource Center/Campus Advocacy Network has found a new home in Room 286, 728 W. Roosevelt Rd. The  new location is spacious and accessible.

THE FACILITIES have a comfortable lounge, work stations, Wi-Fi, gender neutral bathrooms, a lactation relaxation room, a library, a kitchen, a conference room, and programming space with a projector.

THE CENTER and network are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CALL (312) 413-1025 for assistance or information

THE WOMEN’S Leadership and Resource Center helps educate and empower the UIC campus on women's issues, and provides a safe environment for women-identified people. See

THE CAMPUS Advocacy Network is the confidential campus resource for staff, students, and faculty regardless of social identity who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and hate crimes. Advocates will identify all of the options available based on each individual's unique experience with interpersonal violence, and then assist the individual with those options he or she chooses to pursue. For an appointment, call (312) 413-8206. See

Vol. 7, No. 8, September 2014

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Neal Lorenzi, Gail Mansfield, Susan S. Stevens, Katherine Vega, Monica M. Walk
Chair: Michael Moss
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Colleen Piersen
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar

August 27, 2014

Town Hall with President Easter
Monday, October 6, 2014
11:30am to 12:30pm
M. Thompson Rooms, Student Center West
Register by Friday, September 26, 2014:

Please join us for a Town Hall with University of Illinois President Robert Easter on the state of the University.

The event is open to all faculty, staff and students, and you will have an opportunity to submit questions for President Easter during registration.

A brief additional Q&A will conclude the event.

This event is coordinated by APAC and will be webcast at:

For questions, contact Michael Moss at

August 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 7

Attorney General Lisa Madigan Obtains $2.6 Million for SURS

Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a settlement with Bank of America
that will provide $2.6 million for SURS.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN, along with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), announced on Aug. 21 that Bank of America has agreed to the largest single settlement in the history of corporate America “for its role in offering consumers toxic mortgage loans,” Madigan said.

ILLINOIS WILL recover $200 million to the State’s pension systems and $100 million in consumer relief from the $17 billion settlement. “This brings the total my office has recovered for the State’s pension systems to $344 million,” Madigan said.

A TOTAL of $2.6 million will go to the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). The rest of the money will be go the Illinois Teachers Retirement System and the State Board of Investment, the latter of which oversees the State Employees Retirement System, the General Assembly Retirement System, and Judges Retirement System.

THE SETTLEMENT “is the third agreement I have secured as part of my work on the Department of Justice’s Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group and the fourth enforcement action I have taken against Bank of America,” Madigan said.

MADIGAN ADDED that the “settlement with Bank of America will help Illinois recover its losses from the dangerous and deceptive securities that put our economy on the path to destruction. Even six years later, we are still cleaning up the mess Wall Street created with its reckless investments and fraudulent conduct.”

APAC News Surpasses 100,000 Hits

(Image courtesy Lessons from the Lamp Post)
WITH THE July issue of APAC News, the publication has exceeded 100,000 page hits on the Internet.

“THIS HIGH number is a testament to the close attention that UIC Academic Professionals and others pay to information that affects both the University and these individuals’ work lives,” said William S. Bike, editor of APAC News.

THE CURRENT issue and previous issues of APAC News can be accessed at

State's Backlog of Bills Falls by 60%

GOVERNOR PATRICK Quinn announced on July 14 that the State's backlog of bills had fallen from a high of $9.9 billion in 2010 down to $3.9 billion as of June 30, the lowest point since the Governor took office.

THE BACKLOG of bills is now closer to the typical private industry 30-day billing standard.

THE OFFICE of the Governor stated that the change was “a direct result of the Governor's willingness to make the tough decisions including overhauling the Medicaid program, reforming worker's compensation and unemployment insurance systems, and implementing major efficiencies such as closing and consolidating more than 50 State facilities.”

Speed Networking Events Scheduled

APAC WILL host two Speed Networking events.

SPEED NETWORKING is aimed at bringing together Academic Professionals interested in meeting their colleagues on campus, having a few minutes of one-on-one discussion to learn about what other APs are doing, and making new connections.

THE WEST Campus event will be held in the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, Room 6175m on Tuesday, Sept. 9, noon to 1:30 p.m. To register, click here: WEST CAMPUS 9/9/2014.

THE EAST CAMPUS EVENT will be held in the Daley Library,  801 S. Morgan St. , Room 1-470, on Monday, Sept. 22, noon to 1:30 p.m. To register, click here: EAST CAMPUS 9/22/2014.

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in the College of Medicine Research Building (CMRB), 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is Sept. 10 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in 2750 UH. For information, call (312) 996-0306.


Julie C. Kong, Director of Research Services in the Dean’s Office
at the School of Public Health, and APAC member.
Julie C. Kong Sees APAC as Advocate for APs

By Katherine Vega

JULIE C.  KONG, the Director of Research Services in the Dean’s Office at the School of Public Health, has spent more than half her life at UIC. “UIC is one of those places that many people such as myself keep coming back to!” said Kong.

AFTER RECEIVING her degree in in nutrition and dietetics from the College of Applied Health Sciences and working as a dietitian, she came back as a teaching assistant in the Department of Nutrition and Medical Dietetics in 1984 and became an instructor and the Coordinator of the Undergraduate Dietetics Program the following year.

KONG SERVED in other roles outside of UIC but came back again to become the Administrative Director of the first UIC Cancer Center in 1996. “In 1999, I came to the School of Public Health to start the pre-awards research office,” she said. Kong has been there ever since.

THE SCHOOL of Public Health’s Office of Research Services, an office with a staff of three pre-awards sponsored project specialists, helps pre-award researchers get their proposals organized and submitted to federal and non-profit organizations. This may sound like a broad set of tasks—and it is.

KONG’S OFFICE provides “full-service proposal development for faculty and students,” she said. In addition to hosting grant workshops and searching for funding opportunities, the Office of Research Services also organizes the Annual SPH Research Day. “We have a diverse set of other responsibilities…such as writing and organizing the content for the research section of the College’s website, managing the scientific peer review process, running the College’s Seed Funding Competition and poster office, and analyzing the research activities of the college,” said Kong.

“MY GOAL is to continue to advance research in the college and support the development of my staff, who are the foundation of the office,” Kong said. “It is critical for pre-awards research offices to be visionary and develop new strategies to expand their enterprise to further support faculty.”

OFFICES SUCH as Research Services are crucial to providing investigators the means to grow their research portfolio. A strong administrative backing of that process is essential to innovation and exploration, according to Kong. “The field of research administration has really progressed over the past few years,” she said. “In particular, having a pre-awards research office provides endless possibilities in creating something ‘new.’”

“THERE ARE new relationships that are being fostered for collaborations, the training of new investigators on how to prepare their first grant proposal, and the developing of new initiatives for the college,” she continued.

FOR KONG, joining APAC was an easy decision. “APAC is valuable because they are the advocate for the interests of all Academic Professionals,” she said. She also appreciates what APAC represents to her. A fan of both acronyms and advancement, she believes that “Activism is Positive and Affects Change.”

KONG KNOWS that staff members are some of the most important members of the UIC community, and this translates to her work with APAC. “I am currently part of the Professional Development Committee because I enjoy supporting the personal and professional growth of one of our campus’ most valuable resources—our staff,” she said.

KONG’S STAFF of pre-awards sponsored projects specialists are Academic Professionals. “As research administrators, it is essential that they have the resources to grow in their careers so that their talents can be further enhanced for their jobs,” said Kong.

“UIC HAS many wonderful and hard-working Academic Professionals and APAC works extremely hard to recognize and retain these professionals,” she concluded.

TO CONTACT Kong, email


Editor’s Note: “The Continuing Crisis” is a section of APAC News which links to news pertinent to the State budget crisis and other financial matters as they affect the University and Academic Professionals. These news outlets are not affiliated with or endorsed by APAC.

UNIVERSITY AT risk from Illinois budget woes? S&P offers warning. Crain’s Chicago Business, Aug. 1:

ILLINOIS GOVERNMENT shutdown, mass firings of public workers? International Business Times, Aug. 4:

TWENTY-SIX STATE legislators have opted out of State retirement plans.

Vol. 7, No. 7, August 2014

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Neal Lorenzi, Gail Mansfield, Susan S. Stevens, Katherine Vega, Monica M. Walk
Chair: Michael Moss
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Colleen Piersen
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar

July 30, 2014

July 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 6

AP Leaders from Three Campuses
Meet with President Easter

Standing, left to right: Colleen Piersen (Chicago APAC Treasurer), Marilyn Marshall (Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs), Michael Moss (Chicago APAC Chair), Melissa Madsen (UIUC AP representative), Mary Berta (Chicago APAC Secretary), Todd Spinner (UIUC AP representative), Teresa Szabo (UIS APAC), Laura Alexander (UIS Sr. Director Human Resources), and Katie Ross (UA Director, Human Resources Administration). Seated, left to right: Elyne Cole (Associate Provost for Human Resources), UI President Robert Easter, Ahlam Al-Kodmany (Chicago APAC Vice-Chair), and Maureen Parks (UA Executive Director & Associate Vice President for Human Resources).
LEADERS OF the Chicago, Urbana, and Springfield Academic Professional advisory committees met with President Robert Easter in his home in Urbana on July 10. Topics included Job Analysis and the conversion of Academic Professional staff to Civil Service positions; compensation, benefits, and the UIC budget; as well as Easter’s thoughts on the next UI President. Representing Chicago were APAC Chair Michael Moss, APAC Vice-Chair Ahlam Al-Kodmany, APAC Secretary Mary Berta, and APAC Treasurer Colleen Piersen. 

BERTA COMMENTED, “It was great to meet colleagues from Urbana and Springfield in person and to discuss our shared concerns. President Easter provided an overview of the large machinery that UI really is and it gave me a better perspective on how complex an operation University of Illinois really is.” Al-Kodmany added, “Meeting with our UPPAC [University Professional Personnel Advisory Committee] colleagues from Urbana and Springfield is an annual highpoint.”

CHICAGO REPRESENTATIVES shared a number of concerns related to Job Analysis—the delayed timeline, lengthy gaps in communication for those undergoing the process, and concerns related to unintended consequences for APs who have not yet undergone Job Analysis. They also commented that these concerns are likely to be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the largest and most complex college, the College of Medicine, progresses through Job Analysis.

AL-KODMANY NOTED, “This year UPPAC had a very productive discussion around the Job Analysis process at UIC in comparison to the Job Analysis and audit results in Urbana and Springfield. One notable take-away from the meeting is learning that the University’s Board of Trustees and President are actively engaged in addressing the profound impact the audit and conversion process is having on the campuses and employees. If action is to be taken regarding a resolution of the audit findings and pending conversions in Urbana, the question remains, ‘will there be retroactive redress of conversions in Chicago based upon the actions taken in Urbana?’”

MOSS COMMENTED, “Job Analysis was the center of attention and UIC’s experience was the primary focus. It was interesting to hear the varying perspective of the other campus leaders. Our concerns related to unintended consequences for our APs and even APs with faculty titles fell on sympathetic ears. APAC will continue to take what action we can to see that these concerns are thoughtfully communicated to the administration.”

Court Ruling May Foreshadow Overturning
of Pension Reform Law

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled strongly in favor of protection of pension benefits.
IN A surprise to many court watchers and legal experts, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in Kanerva v. Weems that health insurance is indeed a pension benefit protected by the Illinois Constitution’s Pension Protection Clause for retired State employees.

RETIREES BEGAN paying a health insurance premium last year, and the Kanerva suit sought to restore the earlier situation of retirees not having to pay health insurance costs.

THE COURT wrote, “It is clear that if something qualifies as a benefit of the enforceable contractual relationship resulting from membership in one of the State’s pension or retirement systems, it cannot be diminished or impaired.” That protection extends to health insurance promised to retirees, the court ruled.

“WE ARE obliged to resolve that doubt in favor of the members of the State’s public retirement systems,” the court also wrote.

WHILE THE immediate result is that making retirees pay for part of their pension was ruled unconstitutional, the ruling has larger implications. Since the court ruled that health benefits were protected, if it follows its own precedent it also is likely to rule the State’s pension reform legislation, signed into law in December, unconstitutional as well. That law would reduce retirees’ cost-of-living adjustments, increase the retirement age for some employees, and cap pensionable earnings..

A SANGAMON County judge had postponed the pension reform law taking effect until courts make a final ruling on legal challenges to it.

THE STATE Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) and the other plaintiffs believe that "Kanerva is a huge win in the battle for pension rights and a strong indication that pension rights will in the end be vindicated,” wrote Linda L. Brookhart, Executive Director, SUAA

UIC NEWS on July 8 wrote that the ruling “may foreshadow the success of challenges to pension legislation.”

“I THINK it’s very likely that the [pension reform] law is going to be massively overturned by the court,” said David Merriman, Professor of Economics and Public Administration, in that UIC News article.

“I BELIEVE this bodes very well for overturning most of the new pension law because this health insurance ruling will be used to argue in favor of not cutting the benefits,” said Brenda Russell, President of the UIC SUAA, in that UIC News article.

THE ARTICLE went on to note that Merriman said the recent ruling signals that the Supreme Court is unlikely to accept the State’s argument that changing the pension system is necessary because of financial emergency.

THE CHICAGO TEACHERS Union blog of July 3 said, “The law in Illinois is now crystal clear: Politicians cannot break the promises made…concerning retirement benefits,” and that legislators “cannot fix the past failures of politicians to fund adequately our retirement benefits by cutting those benefits…”

“THIS IS a major victory for members of State retirement systems,” said John Fitzgerald, a partner at Chicago law firm Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC, who represents retired State teachers and school administrators, in a July 3 article in Crain’s Chicago Business.