Regents claim that university was consulted

By Stephanie Bradley

Controversy over who was consulted about former NIU president and political science professor Clyde Wingfield’s assignment in Washington, D.C. continues despite Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves’ claims.

At a special Faculty Assembly meeting Wednesday, Groves indicated NIU was consulted about Wingfield’s assignment, but declined to name who those people were.

English professor James Giles said the main problem is that no one knows who was consulted. He said, “for some reason there is a reluctance for anyone to clarify (who was consulted). I think if we knew it would not be as big a problem as it is. The Board of Regents won’t be up front. Even if there is nothing wrong, if (the Regents) are reluctant to clarify things, people will think something’s wrong.”

James Norris, NIU Liberal Arts and Sciences dean disagreed with Groves and said he was not consulted about Wingfield’s assignment, and did not find out about it until the end of July.

He said all faculty who desire to take a leave of any kind must have written approval from their department first, their college second, and the provost’s office third before the leave can be approved by the Regents. He said no papers ever crossed his desk, and no one asked him.

Norris added that NIU Provost Kendall Baker also did not know of the leave, and when he found out, wrongly assumed it would be for the duration of Wingfield’s contract, which is nine months.

Norris said the Regents broke rules which they established.

Baker said he did not find out about the reassignment until mid to late July, and that he did not know how long before that time it had been discussed. He said that LA&S and other departments which usually are consulted were not because NIU regarded it as a reassignment, not a sabbatical.

NIU Student Regent Nick Valadez said at the Faculty Assembly meeting, that NIU was consulted at a prior meeting which discussed Wingfield’s reassignment. Valadez said he had been present at that meeting but he did not say who was consulted.

Groves said he has “essentially said all that has to be said on the subject of Clyde Wingfield,” and declined to comment on any questions concerning the issue.

Allan Ostar, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where Wingfield took a 12-month paid fellowship, said he and Groves decided to place Wingfield in the position there. He said Wingfield was chosen for the position because his qualifications met the AASCU’s requirements.

Wingfield agreed his appointment was arranged between Groves and Ostar.

Ostar said Wingfield’s position is one that is not funded by the AASCU. Wingfield was selected as a senior fellow, which means he would not be an employee of the AASCU.

Norris said that the funds for three months of Wingfield’s twelve-month contract are not in LA&S’s personnel budget and that he does not know where the funds are coming from.

Baker said he did not know where NIU would get the money to fund Wingfield’s final three months. He indicated, however, that it might be easier to find the money since summer school falls within two fiscal years and funds could be taken from the two budgets. Baker also said that faculty sabbaticals will not be affected by Wingfield’s leave.

History professor Patrick White said as far as he knows, no one is or was denied a sabbatical because of Wingfield.

Giles partially agreed with a statement Groves made at the meeting when he said Wingfield would get paid whether or not he was at NIU, “but the analogy breaks down” in the case of the final three months of Wingfield’s contract.