Regents set to examine constitution

By Sean Noble

The Board of Regents will examine the revised NIU constitution at its regular meeting next month to give the constitution final approval.

Jim Giles, Constitutional Task Force chairman, said the newly-proposed form of the constitution will be presented to the Regents when they meet at NIU March 23 and 24.

He said this presentation is part of the final process in passing the new constitution, following approval by the University Council and faculty.

The council passed the proposed revisions at its Dec. 16 meeting by a margin of 36 to 12. Giles said this was the three-fourths vote needed for passage of the constitution.

Giles said the next step in the revision process was getting faculty approval of the changes.

The revised constitution went before the faculty for a referendum vote about two weeks ago. Technology professor and UC Elections Committee member Conard White announced the results of the referendum at the council meeting last week.

White said 480, or 41 percent, of 1,172 eligible faculty members cast votes. Of this number, 425 (89 percent) voted yes to the proposed changes, while 55 voted no.

UC Executive Secretary Judy Bischoff said the presentation to the Regents will serve as a “first reading.” The revised constitution will become an action item at the Regents’ meeting April 21, when it will be given final approval or disapproval.

Giles said he expects the Regents to accept the new constitution. “It’s a document of how we govern ourselves, and I can’t see anything in it that should bother the Regents.”

The Constitutional Task Force was formed in the fall of 1985 by former NIU President Clyde Wingfield after he was petitioned by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ council and senate to “throw out the old constitution and create a new one,” Giles said.

He said Wingfield did not see the need for writing a new constitution, but created a task force to look into revisions that might need to be made.

Giles said, “The task force felt a significant improvement was needed in three areas.”

The task force wanted to give faculty a stronger voice in NIU governance and more personnel decisions within their individual colleges, he said.

Giles said the task force also wanted to allow each college to decide its own curricula, apart from general education requirements.

“I feel very good about the way our work turned out,” Giles said.

The University Council will meet Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in a special session to discuss the task force’s proposed bylaws to the constitution.

Bischoff said the council will study proposals for revised bylaw articles one through 12 at the meeting in the Holmes Student Center’s Clara Sperling Skyroom.

“This will be considered a first reading. If approved, the bylaws will become an action item for final approval at the April 13 University Council meeting,” she said.

Giles said a change in the bylaws requires a two-thirds vote of approval by the council but does not require Regent’s approval.