Regents approve bond exploration, job study

By Eric Krol

The Board of Regents voted to allow exploration of NIU bond refinancing schemes and to study possible job duplication at its Thursday meeting.

The Regents voted unanimously to allow NIU to undertake a review of its bond structure. Current low interest rates make it favorable for NIU to restructure its debt.

However, when discussing the request, Chancellor Roderick Groves said the full Board must vote on any refinancing decisions. There had been discussion at a Wednesday committee meeting that the three-member Regents Executive Committee would vote if a decision was reached before the next meeting.

The next meeting is not scheduled until Jan. 30 and the bond market could change by then, which might make it less advantageous for NIU to refinance its bonds.

“We weighed that and it won’t hurt us,” said Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning. “Nobody can forecast the bond market but there should be no dramatic changes.”

NIU student Regent James Mertes raised a concern about going forth with talks with a prospective bond firm before getting Regents approval.

John Pembroke, Regents vice chancellor for administrative affairs, said no legal opinions have been offered and the bond company, Chicago Capital Markets, Inc., has done business with NIU in the past.

The Board also approved a resolution by Regent Joe Ebbesen to make the three Regency universities and Chancellor’s office submit lists of job titles for discussion.

The move was a follow-up to concerns of job duplication between universities and the Chancellor’s office which Ebbesen has raised twice before. “This board ought to set an example,” he said. “If we’re going to get the most from our dollars, we should start in our own arena.”

Groves said his office only requires $1.3 million a year and if any funds were trimmed, the universities would not receive them. Regent Jerome Bender said the amount is very, very modest for a group which controls $360 million of state funds each year.

NIU President La Tourette took a middle-of-the road approach. “It’s a slim opportunity but perhaps we ought to examine it,” he said.

Sangamon State University President Naomi Lynn said listing jobs is inappropriate because job functions are what’s really important.

There was also some concern whether there was enough time to prepare the materials before the Jan. 30 meeting at Illinois State University at Normal. “This is an enormous request,” Regent Carol Burns said. “Is January feasible?”

The Regents voted 5-2 to approve the request, with Regents Burns and Bender opposed.

In other matters, the Regents voted to approve a $3,738 NIU lease of two offices at the Rockford YWCA used by Project Talent. The Regents also approved the disbursement of $1,600 from the Regents Scholars fund and a proposal which shortens the length of required service for faculty to get tenure.