La Tourette says IBHE figures can be unreliable

While the 1980s marked an undeniable shift in emphasis and dollars from instruction to research and public service at Illinois universities, some of the most cited figures might be overblown.

NIU President John La Tourette said Illinois Board of Higher Education figures showing shifts in spending can be unreliable because of the different situations among universities and a self-reporting mechanism for listing faculty commitments.

IBHE figures show a 1.4 percent decline in instructional spending at NIU from 1980 to 1990.

La Tourette, an economist, said the real figure is closer to a .8 percent increase. He said the difference in the two figures resulted from differences in what was defined as “instruction.”

La Tourette said the IBHE moved departmental and individual research, departmental administration and admissions out of instruction and into other areas, accounting for some of the “drop” in instruction and increase in research spending.

“I’m sure that faculty tended to over the 1980s do more research, because we are a university and it’s a major mission. At the same time, we may have been under-reporting research in 1980, and with all of the talk (in Springfield) about research, the pen might have shifted in that direction,” La Tourette said.