Council, provost set to discuss budget priorities

By Suzanne Tomse

NIU Provost Kendall Baker will discuss his “Working Priorities” paper dealing with NIU’s budget when he meets with the Council on Instruction Nov. 19.

The council decided Nov. 5 they would develop a list of questions to address to Baker. In addition, they briefly discussed their concerns about the paper.

Associate Theater Arts Professor Kevin Seligman said “My first concern is that this is not a working draft. It seems this is more set in granite.”

Another council member, who expressed similar concerns, said, “That perception might be correct. The provost is saying we have serious financial problems and the state cannot solve the problems. The university needs to do something positive. The paper does address the problem,” he said.

Art Professor Dorathea Beard said, “The priorities are not clear, it (the paper) does not answer questions.”

Council members questioned whether the priorities in the paper were listed in order or not. Associate Provost Lou Jean Moyer said they were not.

Other concerns about the paper were the reduction of undergraduate enrollment, the increase of graduate enrollment, and the relationship between undergraduate enrollment and off-campus courses.

“What really is our undergraduate mission? When cutting back undergraduates by taking only from the top we are changing the composition of the student body,” sociology Associate Professor Herb Rubin said.

In addition, council members noted graduate programs were more expensive than undergraduate programs. “Is this a fix for an immediate financial problem? It is more costly to have more graduate students,” said Nancy Vedral of curriculum and instruction.

Beard requested that council members send any questions or concerns about the paper to her in writing and she would compile the list of questions for Baker.

Baker is scheduled to discuss his paper with the faculty at an open forum Nov. 10. He derived the paper as a response to the university budget and to address funding priorities across campus.