Faculty backs replacing Regents

By Dina Paluzzi

A separate governing board for NIU, to replace the Board of Regents, is being advocated by the NIU American Association of University Professors and NIU faculty, an AAUP newsletter states.

The newsletter states, “It almost seems that the Regents are intent on undercutting the case for more adequate funding. Their actions certainly vindicate the AAUP and faculty in their support for a separate board sensitive to our needs and goals.”

Gordon Dorn, NIU undergraduate director of art and a member of the AAUP Executive Committee, said faculty members have held the stand for three to four years.

“We immediately supported that concept and promoted it on campus” when Sen. Pat Welch, D-Peru, introduced the idea, he said.

“There is a great deal of faculty support on campus for a separate board,” he said. “The board hasn’t been effective in representing institutional interests.”

NIU English Professor Jim Giles, also a member of the AAUP Executive Committee, said the structure of the Regents system, which oversees “three different kinds of universities,” makes it impossible for Regents to be responsive to NIU’s needs.

“We would have more responsiveness if NIU had its own board,” Giles said.

The newsletter states, “Over the past several years the Board of Regents has shown what appears to be an increasing ineptitude in its actions.” Examples cited in the newsletter were the recent decision to grant former NIU President Clyde Wingfield an $85,000 administrative leave, use of the term “surcharge” in place of “tuition increase” this year, and the 17 percent salary increase for NIU President John LaTourette.

Dorn said, “A lot of PR problems haven’t played well with the legislature. Consequently, we feel part of the problem with funding is related to the problem with how the board is perceived by representatives in Springfield.”

Giles said he has thought the Regents were inept to deal with NIU concerns “way before” any of the examples cited in the newsletter occurred. His feelings began when Wingfield was fired as NIU president and LaTourette was hired without the consultation of NIU faculty members, he said.

Giles said he was “furious that Regents (made LaTourette president) without consulting anyone with the university. It has nothing to do with my opinion of Wingfield or LaTourette.”

Dorn said faculty members are “very concerned with low (faculty) salaries that exist at NIU.”