Posts Tagged ‘Sputnik’

UIC out of the CIC — Good for the State of Illinois? Good for the other States?

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

(An edited version of what I shared with university colleagues on 1/10/11. The University of Illinois at Chicago has been notified that its guest membership in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation will be terminated at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.)


Some important points about CIC–

CIC guest membership for UIC functions to allow the University of Illinois as a whole to be on a par with other CIC members with medical center campuses, in that the medical center and health sciences of the University of Illinois are thereby included in CIC consortium activities and resources.

Without CIC membership for UIC, the medical center and health sciences of the University of Illinois may not have full access to CIC resources, and the University of Illinois would be in that major sense only a partial member of CIC. Whether the UIC Library of the Health Sciences would have the same panoply of resources without CIC is an important question. It is also questionable whether such a “no CIC for UIC” arrangement would be good for the State of Illinois.

In a given year, UIC’s total grants and contracts expenditures exceed or are on a par with U. Iowa, or U. Chicago, or all campuses of U. Nebraska combined. UIC qualifies as a RU/VH (Research University, Very High Activity; formerly “Research I”) under the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classification system.

The CIC arose during the period 1956-1958 at a time of several football scandals, during which many universities were accused of being “football factories.” CIC’s founding in 1958 can also be viewed as a response to the 1957 R&D challenge of Sputnik. The CIC collaboration positioned the Big 10 schools to better compete with the U. California system, with the Ivy League, and with the surging Texas universities for the funding coming for Big Science after Sputnik. The CIC also provided the Big 10 schools with the ability, like California already had, to develop a leadership pool from among the faculty, not to mention the advantages for libraries, student off-campus scholar studies, etc.

The CIC therefore had at least a dual function, as an academic “fig leaf” to protect against domination by the sports enterprise (a major portion of the economy of a college town), and as a competitive consortium to seek federal and other funding while building intellectual and organizational capacity.

But today it is unclear from the CIC website what the CIC’s mission actually is, other than being the Big 10’s “academic counterpart.”

One might observe that there is a lot of unrealized potential in the CIC. It does appear to need a better defined sense of mission. If this mission were specifically established to advance higher education, research, and thereby economic development in the participating states, then clearly, all RU/VH universities within the participating states would have to be included in order to build the maximum capacity.

In 1984, the CIC actually attempted to take the lead in establishing a regional industrial policy for the Midwest, per an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on 6/10/84 by Allen Batteau, then acting assistant director of CIC. Shouldn’t the CIC return to an economic development function for its states, especially in this time of economic trial? Don’t we need the _maximum_ research capacity of each state to work collaboratively to do that?

One might propose that CIC membership include those universities in the state systems which have reached status of RU/VH, Research University/Very High Activity, as UIC has. This would rule out U. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but might include Wayne State University, which is an RU/VH as well. Wouldn’t that also be good for the _state_ of Michigan?

If the CIC is a club that is really, deep down, a sports club, then, by “club” logic, out UIC goes, and out stays Wayne State. It is tempting to use other sports analogies, in which the big kids don’t want all their little kid brothers and sisters to play either.

But if research, higher education, extension services, and especially R&D-based economic development within the participating states really do matter to the CIC, then with a better-defined sense of mission, the CIC might give the participating states and universities something of the advantage that the University of California system has (or used to have).

In the present economic development and R&D context, removing UIC from the CIC takes roughly 5% of the research capacity of the CIC off the top, and that doesn’t make any sense from the standpoint of building public goods. Adding Nebraska, Lincoln in doesn’t make up the difference–unless one includes all the Nebraska campuses in the CIC, which did not happen.

If the CIC is about research, academic collaboration, and R&D-based economic development to benefit the participating states, as one might think it should be, then UIC’s CIC membership allows the University of Illinois to fully participate in membership along with other CIC members with medical center campuses, and also benefits the CIC, in that it helps the CIC build maximum capacity. Although this might be temporarily inconvenient perhaps for the _universities_ of Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, and Wisconsin, this would be good for the State of Illinois. And in the long run, wouldn’t it be good for all participating _states_ as well?

So my question is, how is the removal of UIC from the CIC _good_ for the State of Illinois, and in the end for the other participating states? And aren’t these the most important questions we should be asking about CIC?


From my earlier internal campus post on the CIC from 12/24/10–

I can give one example of the benefits of CIC membership for UIC. Several years ago, UIC participated with Northwestern and the University of Chicago in the federal NSF grant to get the Chicago Census Research Data Center set up at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

This center gives researchers access to confidential census data under controlled conditions, and has allowed UIC researchers to combine other data sets with confidential census data to embark on significant studies. Due to the complexity of urban and regional problems, access to such data is critical for addressing fundamental questions about public policy and quality of life.

The CIC cooperative networks helped pave the way for the inter-university cooperation leading up to the Chicago RDC, if I’m not mistaken. I recall that Profs. Dick Campbell and Barry Chiswick were among participants in the discussions leading up to the foundation of the Chicago RDC, and that I represented CUPPA. My apologies for not remembering the names of all the many colleagues from several UIC colleges who participated in the discussions back in 2002-3 on this project. (Interesting that the University of Illinois is credited on the Chicago RDC website, since the Chicago campus, UIC, took the initiative on the foundation of the Chicago RDC.)

Here is more background on UIC’s involvement in the foundation of the Chicago RDC.

BTW, not enough of our colleagues at the University know about the resources available at the Chicago RDC, despite UIC’s role in its foundation!

So yes, CIC membership matters big time.


Some background on CIC.

On why Nebraska president thinks CIC matters.

On CIC in general.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved