Funds to go for research equipment

By Claudia Curry

At their Sept. 15 meeting, the Board of Regents approved a $10 million proposed budget for NIU Program Improvements and Expansions for fiscal year 1990.

The Board of Regents Chancellor’s Report states that $1 million of the total $10,051,700 recommendation will provide funding for the purchase of “state-of-the-art research equipment.”

NIU requested the $1 million as first-year funding to address estimated research equipment needs in excess of $14 million.

The report states NIU requested this funding to replace obsolete or less-than-adequate research equipment which hinders the university’s capacity to provide top-flight graduate education. Inadequate equipment also impacts negatively on NIU’s ability to attract and maintain first-rank academic researchers and to meet the shared research opportunities put forth by regional industry, including the I-88 Illinois Research and Development Corridor.

In addition to equipment purchases, this funding could provide initial support for research projects which could themselves generate external funding to finance additional equipment purchases, and this funding could be used to demonstrate an ongoing financial commitment to NIU research scholars, the report states.

The Regents also approved an FY90 $835,000 funding request for operations and maintenance costs of NIU’s physical plant.

The report states budget cuts and internal reallocations during FY88 have reduced NIU’s physical plant staff by 16 positions. This reduction is in addition to a loss of more than 50 full-time physical plant positions since 1978.

During the period of time betweeen FY86 and FY88, the Build Illinois program provided funding to address the backlog of physical plant maintenance, but with the elimination of Build Illinois funding in FY89, the urgency of the physical plant funding request for FY90 becomes more apparent, the report states.

NIU submitted the third part of a three-year request plan designed to support further development of bachelor’s and master’s level programs in electrical, mechanical, and industrial engineering within its College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, the report states.

The first-year and second-year requests were approved by the Board of Regents and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, but no monies were appropriated by legislature.

The amount approved by the board for NIU’s College of Engineering FY90 funding is $797,400. This request supports the continuing build-up of faculty, staff and equipment for the expanding engineering program.