JUAC to accept changes

By Joe Bush

The Joint University Advisory Committee will not continue to oppose policy changes passed by the Board of Regents Thursday, despite adamant protest when the changes were first introduced.

Not only did the committee’s protests delay a scheduled vote on the changes and spur the formation of the committee which modified the changes, “it also dramatized the concern campus groups felt about how the policies would affect campuses in the future,” said J. Carroll Moody, executive secretary of NIU’s University Council.

The changes in Board policy proposed in July by Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves were seen by members of the Regency campuses as attempting to limit the powers of the university presidents. The Regents govern NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and Sangamon State University at Springfield.

Because of the committee’s assessment of its’ accomplishments and because “the board gave no intention of forgetting about the changes,” the committee decided to offer no further opposition, Moody said.

“The better part of political wisdom said we had made a major impact and there was probably not much room to gain any more changes. If people think, ‘Well, OK, JUAC turned out to be ineffective,’ that’s not my view,” Moody said.

Although JUAC will not oppose the policy’s final wording, “nobody in JUAC wanted to endorse these proposals,” he said.

Moody said problems remain with the term “system-wide” in relation to issues that must be directed through Groves.

“What issues are local issues to be handled on campus without having to go through the chancellor?” Moody asked. “If you think about what the Regency system is, you have three very different institutions—different in history, locations, mission and aspirations.”

“The tendency in a central body (the Regents) is to deal with the institutions in common ways. You have to give latitude to different institutions to pursue what they want,” he said.

JUAC did influence wording changes regarding direct presidential access to the the board and recognition of campus policies during presidential searches.

“We felt like we had made a great impact and some very good gains in the final language,” Moody said.

Closely related to the approved changes is the push for an NIU separate governing board. Moody said the changes, when first introduced in July, seemed “designed to heat up the issue” of a separate board, which was defeated last spring in the Illinois legislature.

That defeat left the concept a “dead” issue, but one soon to be revived. A resolution, introduced by Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, has established a hearing board to review Illinois’ higher education System of Systems.

Welch said the resolution was initiated to “keep the issue alive” and to counteract a similar Illinois Board of Higher Education committee which he said will “maintain the status quo” and oppose a separate board for NIU.

Moody said Groves might “harm further development” on campus issues requiring “quick” action and the original changes “appeared to be a much greater centralization of authority.”