Separation bill to be heard

By Claudia Curry

State Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, will be presenting the state legislature a bill this fall, which if passed will separate NIU from the Board of Regents governing system.

Sen. Welch said the potential passing of the bill “looks reasonable because the Board of Regents has given us plenty of ammunition to get it passed.”

Welch said he already has drafted the bill that includes the establishment of a solitary NIU governing board.

The new board would continue to follow certain parts of the Board of Regents format such as having monthly meetings and a non-voting student representative on the board, he said.

Specific differences between the Board of Regents and Welch’s proposed board include the reduction of total membership to seven people selected by the governor, the elimination of the chancellor position and the addition of a non-voting faculty member.

Welch said if the bill passes, the new board “would save NIU a lot of money. For starters, the elimination of the chancellor position will save the system about $114,000.

“Plus, money would be saved on traveling expenses for university administrators. Holding monthly meetings at NIU would require less travel and would save NIU money there.”

Welch also argues that an NIU governing board would be better for the campus in general since there would be more focused attention on NIU and better representation because it would be dealing only with one university.

He said students and faculty would be able to follow the new board’s movements and decisions more directly, which would help in the board’s communication with NIU.

State Rep. John Countryman, R-DeKalb, said he agrees with Sen. Welch’s idea that a separate governing board for NIU is a good idea and is something which he would support.

Brian Hopkins, Sangamon State University student regent, said he does not think the bill will pass. Hopkins also said, “The way to cure the problem with the present board is not to add another layer of bureaucratic waste. If the system is flawed, then we should fix it. Let’s not do it in a piece meal fashion.”

He said we should study instead the system as a whole and not just one part. “We should be looking at ways to streamline the system, instead of adding to it.”