Proposal might hurt NIU

By Huda Scheidelman

The Board of Regents is the governing body for NIU, Illinois State University and Sangamon State University. It comprises nine members and a non-voting student regent from each of the three Regency schools. A chancellor position was created for the Regents in 1984. The Chancellor Roderick Groves is the chief executive of the Board and is responsible for its policies and governance.

The Board has proposed several Regency policy changes that, if passed, would have a significant negative impact on our university.

One of the policy changes inhibits NIU President John La Tourette’s ability to directly lobby legislators. According to the proposal, any concerns La Tourette might want to discuss with legislators must go through the Board. This filtration process clearly could handicap any requests of the president. President La Tourette was a significant voice calling for more education funds last year. Deleting this type of activity detrimentally affects the concerns that face students.

A second change involves the removal of campus input from the presidential search. Those who are on campus daily have valuable input on this process, as well as a vested interest in the outcome. The Regents, who visit the NIU campus every three months, are to single-handedly choose our university president—the campus is left at a great loss by not having input on the matter.

The Board also has proposed to change the presidental evaluation process so Groves, himself, would carry it out. This is not the most significant policy change, but it does remove the element of the Board members performing the presidential evaluation independently.

The final proposed policy change deems that the president could not report directly to the Board, but would have to do so through Groves. If the president cannot report directly to the Board members, he cannot be accountable for his message, nor be assured his message will be delivered.

If passed, these policy changes would clearly inhibit La Tourette and any future presidents in many ways. By limiting presidential power, they inhibit NIU as a campus and affect our specific concerns as students. I have addressed Groves and the rest of the Board with the policy changes. Student Regent Bob Tisch will continue to communicate this message for the NIU student body. Although the Board was originally planning to vote on the policy changes this month, they agreed to postpone the vote for 30 days at request of the NIU University Council and other groups. The delay will allow for extensive discussion about all policy change concerns.

If the Regents pass these policy changes, our university stands to suffer, but so does the system of systems under which the Board operates. Bills have already been brought to the House and Senate to eliminate the system under which the Board works and to attain a separate governing board for NIU. The issue of policy changes is manifesting the arguement for a separate board and if one issue is successful, the other might follow consecutively.

Huda Scheidelman is president of the student association and writes about the student point of view about the possible Board of Regents policy changes proposed by Chancellor Roderick Groves.