Governor should ax Regents

Gov. James Thompson should fire the Board of Regents.

It would be in the best interest of both NIU and the public to disband this inefficient and ineffective governing body and establish an entirely new board for NIU.

Neither the idea nor the complaint is new. Efforts to disband the Regents and to create a better system of governance for NIU are scattered throughout the history of the university.

One can only wonder why the problems caused by the Regents are allowed to continue to plague NIU and why past attempts to solve the entire dilemma have gone by legislators unheeded. Meanwhile, the public and universities are left only to ask—what have the Regents done for us lately—or ever?

In the eyes of the public, the Regents have been misusing the hard earned money supplied to NIU by state taxes.

Money that is going to fund excessive administrative salary increases.

Money that was wasted on extravagant remodeling of former President Clyde Wingfield’s NIU-owned home.

Money that is being used to send Wingfield on an “administrative reassignment” which might as well be called a paid vacation.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff have received only minimal salary increases, NIU programs have been underfunded and students have paid tuition increases only to see fewer classes and services.

Creating a better form of governance for NIU or firing the Regents will show the public that someone is holding them accountable for their actions.

This is the only way NIU will be able to contradict the negative messages sent by the Regents’ behavior and regain the public’s confidence. The public must be shown that there is a concern and intent on the part of NIU to spend its money responsibly. This is the only way NIU will be able to justify the need for its continual requests for more funds.

The Regents have been misrepresenting the very people they are appointed to serve. The Regents continue to distance themselves from students and faculty while claiming to be working for NIU’s best interests.

How can the Regents honestly say they work for NIU’s best interests when they neglect the individualality of each of the Regency universities?

There is only one lobbyist working in Springfield on behalf of all three universities. With a separate board, NIU would have a lobbyist to work for only its interests.

How can the Regents say students receive a fair and equal voice on the board when their student representatives cannot vote. Student Regents serve as ornamental positions, merely puppets of the board.

Granted, they have the ability to contribute the students’ side of issues and to present motions to the board in the interest of the students, but how seriously are their actions taken by the Regents?

NIU student Regent Nick Valadez recently confirmed the ineffectiveness of student voice on decisions made by the Regents.

Valadez said he tried to get the best out of the Regents with his recent resolution which stated, “In terms of salary percentage increases, university faculty should be treated the same as the chancellor’s administration and campus administration.” The resolution is straightforward, yet it confused the Regents, and Valadez was too fearful of “embarrassing” the board to carry through with it.

Valadez showed his submission to the board’s whims when he withdrew the resolution. When it comes to embarrassment, the Regents’ actions speak louder than any student’s words.

State Sen. Patrick Welch is right to question the Regents’ actions and to call for a separate governing board. But if the legislature does not grant NIU a separate board, Gov. Thompson should fire the Regents and appoint better ones.