Groves offers Regents policy change

By Katrina Kelly

NIU officials are voicing different opinions of proposed changes in Board of Regents policies that Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves introduced to clarify what he described as “convoluted and ambiguous language.”

According to the three-page proposal, one change would streamline the process of selection and evaluation of Regency university presidents and put Groves in charge of evaluating and coordinating searches for presidents. The Regents govern NIU, Illinois State University in Normal and Sangamon State University in Springfield.

Groves said Tuesday that the changes are intended to “clear up” his relationship with the Regency university presidents and clarify language “subject to misinterpretation.”

NIU President John La Tourette, ISU President Thomas Wallace and SSU President Durward Long could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Although Groves said he has personally received no complaints or hints of opposition about his proposal, he added, “maybe there are some (complaints).” His proposal would create “no change whatsoever” in the workings of the Regents, Groves said.

When asked if his action is in response to NIU and ISU’s recent attempts to establish separate governing boards, Groves said his proposal creates “less need for a separate governing board.

“That decision (the establishment of a separate governing board) would have to be made by someone other than the BOR,” Groves said.

Carroll Moody, executive secretary of NIU’s University Council and a member of the Joint University Advisory Committee, said the proposal was “sprung on us” at the committee’s meeting Wednesday afternoon. The committee reports to the Regents.

Groves’ proposal raises “numbers of questions” to the committee, mainly dealing with how the role of faculty of Regency universities will be affected, Moody said. The committee, made up of faculty from the Regency universities, “engaged in a very open-ended discussion of these” proposed changes, Moody said.

Calling the proposal a “BOR initiative rather than a Groves initiative,” NIU Regency Professor William Monat said Groves’ proposal is merely an attempt to clarify the policy’s language, some of which Monat himself wrote as Regents Chancellor from 1984 to 1986.

Although Groves’ proposal raises questions about the Regency system’s internal governance, “the Board has the authority to decide how it will govern,” Monat said.

Monat, a JUAC member, said the committee will ask for a clarification of Groves’ proposal at the Regents’ next meeting in September.

Moody said Groves’ action does not allow the committee “adequate time to consult with the three campuses and come to the meeting in September and have a reasoned discussion (about the proposed changes).”

When committee members voiced this view to the entire board at Thursday’s public meeting, board members nodded their heads in agreement.

“Groves saw a problem in waiting (for action on the proposal). Groves saw no reason to delay,” Moody said.

Groves most likely will be invited to discuss these proposed changes with NIU’s Faculty Assembly early this fall, Moody said.

Moody said the proposal raises two levels of concern, the first being how the changes might affect faculty’s part in the governance of the Regency universities. The second concern, Moody said, is how the changes could affect the futures of the Regency schools.

“Students might have the same questions,” Moody said. Students should examine how the changes might affect their participation in the Regency system and their “entire university’s aspirations for development,” he said.