Regents respond to separation bill

By Claudia Curry

State Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, said he will submit a bill proposing the establishment of NIU’s own governing board to the state legislature by the second week of January.

Responding to Welch’s bill, Regents Chairman Carol Burns said she believes that if Gov. James Thompson determines there is a need to restructure higher education in Illinois, the governor should appoint a blue-ribbon committee to determine what the recommended structure should be.

Burns said the recommendation from the committee should be submitted to the legislature for a vote.

She said she could not tell what the Regents’ future actions would be as far as what they would do and how they would advise their three univeristies (NIU, Illinois State University and Sangamon State University) on what position to take concerning the bill. Burns said she would have to see the bill first.

Regent James Wright said, “I am supporting that the Regency system stay the way it is. We are having some rough times right now, but I think we can work everything out.”

Regent Milton McClure said, “These bills have come up from time to time in the past. I feel that a comment at this time would be premature.”

McClure said the Regents have not discussed Welch’s proposal in any of their meetings.

Welch said the bill will go to the House Rules Committee and then will be assigned to the Higher Education Committee. “They will probably vote on it in March or April,” he said.