Two consultants evaluate La Tourette

By Eric Krol

Despite minimal faculty response, the evaluation of NIU President John La Tourette is underway.

Two consultants hired by the Board of Regents for a mandatory five-year evaluation of La Tourette and the other Regency university presidents visited NIU Monday and are still here today to gather information.

The consultants, Joseph Kauffman, a retired administrator from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and William Muse, Akron University president, are on campus to compile information on La Tourette’s performance from various faculty, staff and student groups and the president’s office secretary, evaluation coordinator Sally Stevens said.

According to a Sept. 26 memo to all NIU faculty from J. Carroll Moody, executive secretary of the University Council, all faculty members were invited to take part in the evaluation process. Deadline for “contributions” was Oct. 10.

However, Moody said faculty response was minimal. “It was very light,” he said.

Moody said a variety of reasons could account for the dismal response. “One interpretation is that there doesn’t seem to be any burning issues with President La Tourette,” he said.

Maybe the faculty felt they didn’t have much to say.”

Moody also said the current state financial picture, with no raises, rising health insurance costs and general low level of support of higher education, could have contributed to low faculty morale and resulted in a small response.

Another possible reason for the minimal response was the structure of the evaluation, he said. The evaluation took more time to complete because it was designed with open-ended questions, which Kauffman said he preferred, instead of a “yes and no checklist.”

The evaluation categories were determined by NIU members of the Joint University Advisory Committee (JUAC), a group of faculty from each Regency university that advises the Regents from a campus perspective.

Included in the five categories are professional behavior, administrative skills and accomplishments, relationship with faculty and internal and external relations.

Although it was not included, Moody said there was some consideration of an academic and student category.

He said the category was left off the list because the responsibility of academics lies with the Provost’s office.

Stevens said the consultants will fill their busy two-day schedule by meeting with presidential research and teaching scholars, members of La Tourette’s cabinet such as the vice presidents, athletic director and legal counsel, college deans and staff and faculty committee members.

Because there are so many groups to meet with the consultants, Kauffman and Muse are dividing the groups among themselves, Stevens said.

Stevens said Kauffman had to leave after Monday’s meetings because his wife was having surgery. Kauffman’s meetings scheduled for today were completed Monday.

The consultants will collect information and give their final evaluation to the Regents before the end of the year.

A student group led by Student Association President Preston Came also will meet with the consultants.

Came said because he could only choose 10 to 15 members, he had to set a priority order.

He said he chose members from his staff first and then other large student groups, such as the Black Student Union, the Organization of Latin-American Students and the greek system.