Regents discuss cuts

By Ken Goze

Reaction to state budget cuts dominated discussion at Wednesday’s Board of Regents committee meetings.

The Regents, meeting at Illinois State University, talked about the effects of last week’s 3 percent, $2.5 million budget slash at a Finance and Facilities Committee meeting.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said, “While they are damaging and have inevitably taken their toll, the cuts have been taken in an orderly fashion which did the least damage possible.”

ISU officials said the recision will result in fewer summer school classes. NIU President John La Tourette said NIU will maintain the same number of classes but will save money by compressing classes from eight to six and a half weeks.

Still, Regent Jerome Bender did not find the situation comforting. “The fact that these things are happening in other states doesn’t help my appendicitis,” Bender said. “When the universities have to cut back on their summer programs, I think that the governor and every member of the General Assembly should know.”

However, discussion of NIU’s proposed bond refinancing was left off the committee’s agenda. NIU asked for permission to explore refinancing possibilities at the December meeting and was slated to ask for final approval this month.

La Tourette said NIU needs time to work out the details. “We’re investigating the terms,” he said. “We really need to pin it down so whatever is proposed will be legal and the best deal possible for the university.”

The Personnel and Operations Committee was scheduled to discuss a report on the number of positions duplicated between the Chancellor’s Office and the three Regency schools but postponed the debate until next month because Committee Chair Carol Burns was absent.

Regent Joe Ebbesen, who had requested the report at last month’s meeting, asked to postpone the discussion until Burns was present.

The committee did discuss a proposed amendment to NIU’s Constitution dealing with artistic freedom.

NIU student Regent James Mertes said he is concerned the amendment might conflict with the university judicial code on harassment.

“If a scholarly or artistic expression happens to seriously embarrass or offend a reasonable person, then that person will be subject to judicial action,” Mertes said. “It’s difficult to strike a balance between this position and the rather ambiguous judicial codes.”

La Tourette said he would support any change which would clarify the amendment.