The state legislature last week approved alumni from NIU and Illinois State University to sit as voting members on the Board of Regents, NIU’s governing body.
Joseph Ebbesen got the nod as NIU’s Regent and Carl Kasten was tabbed to represent ISU in Normal. Both were nominated by former Gov. James Thompson.
The Regents govern NIU, ISU and Sangamon State University in Springfield.
The two approvals stem from legislation just now taking effect. It was passed last June with nearly unanimous votes in the Illinois House and Senate.
Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, introduced the bill in the senate and Reps. John Countryman, R-DeKalb and Gordon Ropp, R-Bloomington, introduced the bill in the House.
The bill stipulates that an SSU alumnus will be appointed when a vacancy occurs to ensure an odd number of voting members.
Ebbesen and Kasten are expected to be sworn in at the Regents’ Jan. 24 meeting at ISU. The duo’s addition will bring the voting membership to 11. Each school will retain its nonvoting student regent.
Ebbesen, 66, attended Northern Illinois State Teachers College, NIU’s namesake, in the late 1940s after a three-year stint in the Marines. As a senior, he transferred to the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and received a doctorate degree in optometry in 1951.
As a state legislator, Ebbesen was instrumental in landing NIU’s law school and, over the years, attempted to establish a separate governing board for NIU.
In 1983, Ebbesen got a separate governing bill through the House, only to have the bill fail in the Senate. Gov. Thompson promised to sign the bill only if it affected NIU and no other universities.
Ebbesen has said he will work to improve the three Regency schools and not just focus on NIU. The Regents are not paid.