Northern Star




Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Faculty Senate talks AI, tenure and search for provost

Gabby Crabtree
Stephanie Richter, director of Teaching Excellence and Support speaks at Faculty Senate about AI Design Assistant. Jan. 24 Faculty Senate discussed professors using AI, changes to the Faculty Senate Bylaws and the search for a new executive vice president and provost. (Gabby Crabtree | Northern Star)

DeKalb – The first Faculty Senate meeting of the year discussed updates on the AI Design Assistant pilot program, the search for an executive vice president and provost and changes of the Faculty Senate bylaws. 


Stephanie Richter, director of Teaching Excellence and Support, gave a presentation on Blackboard’s optional ability for professors to use AI to enhance their coursework. 

Blackboard’s AI Design Assistant feature has the ability to generate prompts, rubrics, learning modules and test questions based on the course title and other course modules. 

NIU started piloting this program in fall of 2023, and some professors have taken advantage of the program. 

“The idea here is to sort of supercharge your design efforts, help you take your course from where it is to a step ahead by adding in some additional assessment tools for example or for helping you get started,” Richter said. 


Matt Streb, chief strategy officer and liaison to the Board of Trustees, said there were about 76 applicants for the position. 

“The executive vice president and provost search is holding the first round of virtual interviews this week and with the committee preparing to select the finalist by the end of the week,” said Benjamin Creed, faculty senate president. 

There will be three finalists brought to campus sometime before spring break. There will be two open forums, one for faculty, one for staff. There will also be an open session for students and leadership as well. 

After a Vice President and Provost are selected there will be surveys attendees can fill out to share their input with the search committee. 


Evgueni Nesterov, presidential research and scholarship and artistry professor, said he was surprised by the complete removal of the bylaw that states a professor must spend six years at the university before receiving tenure.

“If it goes forward, a person may request a promotion, let’s say to an associate professor in one year and next year wants promotion to full professor. Is there a reason for that?” Nesterov said.

Creed said the idea behind the removal was if someone meets all of the requirements, time should not hold them back. 

“Local policy would still be able to set the barriers, requirements, for tenure in alignment in their field to earn that and the timeline component being less important than the quality of the candidate,” Creed said.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be 3 p.m. on Feb. 21 at Altgeld Hall Auditorium. For more information, the agenda and minutes are posted on the NIU website.

More to Discover