NIU Board of Trustees approves construction, renovation of various campus buildings


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NIU’s new CFO has years of experience in education finance, according to the board’s meeting report on Nov. 10, 2022.

DeKALB – NIU’s Board of Trustees is making final moves to complete the renovation and construction of different campus buildings.

Campus building updates

The board approved the construction and renovation of many buildings on campus including the Health Informatics Technology Center, Wirtz Hall, Williston Hall, Still Hall, Still gym, Gabel Hall, Graham Hall, Davis Hall, Mcmurry Hall, Reavis Hall, Watson Hall, Psychology/Computer Science Building and Montgomery Hall.

The board also approved the eventual temporary relocation of the School of Nursing to the Wellness and Literacy Building until the nursing program can be housed in its new building, the Health Informatics Technology Center.

The Health IT Center is still being designed for construction and is estimated to cost $77,000, not including the $7.7 million already being used for design and planning, according to the special meeting report.

It has not been announced when the nursing program will be relocated to the new Health IT Center because it is still being designed for construction, according to John Heckmann, associate vice president of facilities management and campus services.

Renovation of the Wellness and Literacy Building, where the nursing program will be temporarily located, is planned to start Spring 2023 and will cost $950,000.

The school is being moved so that nursing students, faculty and staff can be closer to healthcare and other health-related programs.

Freeman’s performance review

NIU President Lisa Freeman’s annual performance review has been approved by the board. Members said they commended Freeman for her leadership during the pandemic and for getting the University back on track. She received a 93% on her performance review and was granted an incentive bonus of $23,250.

“This past year, our students, faculty and staff continued to respond admirably as we emerged from a tumultuous period, reset and responded to conditions that we have not previously faced,” Freeman said in a letter addressed to the Board.

The board said it has found Freeman’s work as a leader to exceed expectations, citing her efforts regarding a more transparent work environment, the 6.8% rise of first-year recruitment and the implementation of a shared leadership model as commendable.

A new CFO

As CFO, Middlemist will oversee the financial management and will provide executive leadership and guidance for all other financial aspects of NIU. He will start this new position on Jan. 16.

According to a special meeting report, Middlemist has over 20 years of experience in higher education finance. He previously worked for the Metropolitan State University of Denver in a variety of positions and most recently served as the CFO for the same University.

Middlemist is a certified public accountant and received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Oklahoma State University, a master’s of science in business administration from Colorado State University, and a doctorate in public affairs from the University of Colorado, Denver.

The fiscal year 2024 (FY24) internal budget

NIU is requesting a funding level of $108.6 million from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget for FY24. This is an increase of  $10 million since last year’s budget of $98.6 million. The last time NIU received all of its requested funds from the governor’s office was in 2017, which is causing the board to worry that the full amount of funding will not be delivered again this year.

“This is a significant increase, which I get,” trustee Veronica Herrero said. “Knowing that the governor’s office hasn’t traditionally given us what we’ve asked for – and there is a comment here in the report which stands out, which was that these projects and initiatives will not be possible without this additional state funding.”

Freeman said that if the budget is not met, then NIU will revisit its budget and look for new opportunities for revenue, grants or contracts and will avoid doing anything that may decrease affordability and access to the institution, thus avoiding an increase in the cost of tuition.

Other business

The board also approved an increase in the cost of the replacement of soccer and baseball field turf by $195,000, which will be added to the original cost of $1,260,000.