ISU visit called ‘ugly’

By Katrina Kelly

Regents Chancellor Rod Groves probably wishes he had stayed in DeKalb Wednesday.

Groves faced what one observer called an “ugly” Illinois State University contingent Wednesday night during his visit to answer questions about his proposed changes in Regents’ policy.

Groves addressed ISU’s Academic Senate, the counterpart of NIU’s Faculty Assembly with which he met Wednesday afternoon. NIU Student Regent Bob Tisch called the ISU audience “unsympathetic” to Groves’ explanations of a proposal which many say is an attempt to limit the powers of the three Regency university presidents.

The ISU Senate and a gallery of about 40 students, faculty and administrators evoked a “mob mentality” compared to the mostly calm exchange Groves had with NIU staff, Tisch said.

NIU’s discussion with Groves was “much more to the point” than ISU’s meeting, Tisch said. The ISU audience blamed Groves for what he has described as the “BOR-driven” policy.

Groves explained that the Regency university presidents report to the Board “through the chancellor, not to the chancellor.” ISU President Thomas Wallace remained silent at the meeting, Tisch said. NIU President John La Tourette did not attend the NIU meeting.

Groves faced a 34-question agenda at ISU, compared with 12 questions at NIU. Groves requested both campuses submit questions to him in advance.

Groves sent a memo to the three Regency presidents and Regents Chairman Carol Burns on March 27 outlining his proposal. The Regents’ attorneys denied The Northern Star’s request for a copy of the memo, citing exemptions in the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

According to an Aug. 24 letter denying the Star’s request, “preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated” are exempt from disclosure.

ISU’s student newspaper reported Wednesday that past discussions of the proposal might violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act. Groves denied any wrongdoing Wednesday, answering “no” when asked if the discussions of the proposal in a Regents’ March 22 executive session were illegal.