Board’s vote unanimous

By Joe Bush

Proposed Board of Regents policy changes, which generated fiery campus debate since their July introduction, were unanimously passed Thursday at the Regents meeting at NIU.

The Joint University Advisory Committee, which spearheaded the movement that convinced the Regents to modify the proposed changes, neither endorsed nor opposed the modifications.

“This position is taken particularly in light of Regent (Harry) Wellbank’s comments,” JUAC Chairman Doug Anderson told the board.

The Regents govern NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and Sangamon State University at Springfield.

At the September board meeting, Wellbank stated the changes were not supposed to infringe on the powers of the university presidents. JUAC felt this was an important statement and insisted they be included in the meeting’s minutes along with the statement from Regent James Wright that Chancellor Roderick Groves “works for us (the board) and we protect him.”

“If it’s not in the minutes, it didn’t happen,” JUAC member Leonard Schmaltz said. Both statements were placed in the minutes.

JUAC did not endorse the changes because of the term “system-level” in relation to what matters the chancellor can coordinate and make recommendations on. The term needs to be clarified, Schmaltz said.

“What we don’t know is who determines what is local and what is system-wide. We’d like a more concrete definition,” he said.

One JUAC member said as the changes could now be interpreted, “The lack of chalk in a university building could have statewide implications.”

Most concern about the changes was on three fronts—decreased presidential access to the board, campus participation in presidential searches and definition of the chancellor’s responsibilities.

Instead of voting on the proposal in September as planned, the board formed a two-member committee to make final changes after consulting with the Regency universities’ presidents, Groves and three JUAC members.

Before voting on the changes, Wellbank, who was on the two-member committee, was asked to comment. “Everything that could be said has been said,” Wellbank replied.

Board Chairman Carol Burns said a more thorough review of board policy will be conducted in the future. Regent Milton McClure said in conclusion, “If it (opposition to the changes) clarifies and assists the system, then it was well worth it.”

“I hope the board sees the importance of communicating fully with JUAC and particularly sees the importance of informing JUAC when changing policy and expecting us to react (to changes),” said J. Carroll Moody, JUAC member and NIU University Council executive secretary.

“This exercise was fruitful to the board because it gave the board an opportunity to clarify its thought processes to the public,” McClure said.

The Student Association also took a neutral stance to the changes by drafting a resolution initiated by NIU Student Regent Bob Tisch.

In other board action relevant to NIU, the board unanimously approved a request for $211,730 to extend College of Business leases with three western Chicago suburb facilities. The approval will allow the college to continue its MBA and Executive MBA programs with the facilities. The board also approved plans to build a residence facility at the Lorado Taft campus.