Panel to study boards

By Nissin Behar

A public hearing at NIU on Wednesday will evaluate the effectiveness of Illinois higher education governing boards, but the hearing is being termed as “just a study” by one state senator.

Sen. Patrick Welch, D-La Salle-Peru, said everything at the meeting will be reported to the Illinois General Assembly. From that point “the legislature can come up with legislation, but it does not necessarily mean something will come of it.”

The hearing will be held in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center from 9 am to noon.

Kevin Noone, executive director of the Illinois Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation, said the hearings are a result of Senate Resolution 460, and the resolution is a result of NIU’s unsuccessful bid for a separate governing board. The separate governing board bill passed in the Senate, but failed in the House, Noone said.

The resolution was sponsored by Welch and Jeremiah Joyce, D-Chicago.

The resolution calls upon the commission to “conduct a study of the various systems’ governing boards in higher education and evaluate the effectiveness of the current systems.” It also specifies that a panel, with at least one member from each public university, conduct public hearings at locations within each of the five boards’ jurisdictions.

J. Carroll Moody, University Council executive secretary, is NIU’s faculty representative to the panel. Moody said any NIU student or faculty member can give an opinion of Illinois’ higher education system at the hearing. It is an advantage, but not a requirement, to notify Moody in advance of the wish to speak at the hearing. This will alleviate scheduling problems, he said.

Moody said he encourages a written statement. “But it’s not a requirement,” Moody said. “No one will be turned away.”

After the testimony, which is limited to five minutes, some witnesses might be asked questions from the panel to explain why they feel a particular way, Moody said. Due to the lack of time, Moody said, written statements can also be submitted from those who testify, if they have more to say than time allows.

“The panel was formed to provide the commission with the insight that can best be provided by those who are either directly involved with, or subject to, the day-to-day decisions made at the various levels throughout the system,” Noone said.

The panel consists of one member from each public university in the state and four student representatives, one from each governing system. NIU student regent Bob Tisch will represent the Board of Regents, which governs NIU, Illinois State University in Normal and Sangamon State University in Springfield.

Others on the panel include one person representing all of Illinois’ community colleges. There are also five representatives, one from each governing board staff and one from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Other hearings will be held in Chicago, Normal, Carbondale and Macomb.