Madigan visits NIU as part of program

By Mike Solley

Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, said NIU is “advancing very well” in the areas of education and development during a campus visit Friday.

Madigan, a 15-year veteran of the Illinois General Assembly, spent Friday meeting with NIU President John LaTourette, faculty members, Student Association members and students from his home district as part of the university’s “Legislator in Residence” program.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit,” Madigan said. At each stop and at all meetings, people were very receptive and cordial, he said.

During a noon luncheon with members of the NIU administration, faculty and student body, Madigan said NIU has shown substantial growth in its educational capacity and economic development. He added that the Legislature is “anxious to cooperate” in granting funds for NIU’s further growth.

“We (the Legislature) wish we could fund them all (Illinois universities), but there are restrictions put upon the money available,” Madigan said. He said that although the “Legislature feels every proposal is of good intent,” not all proposals can be met because of competition for funding between state universities.

The Legislature’s call to higher education is for universities such as NIU to “educate students in the ways of a new and future economy,” Madigan said. This education will help meet the needs of the future by understanding them, he said.

In terms of funding, Madigan said the Legislature will work toward a more balanced funding structure based on the size of the university and its needs. “If the Legislature finds underfunding, there will be an adjustment,” he said. “I am anxious to accomplish the goal of a fair share of funding for NIU,” Madigan said.

An important issue for NIU is to “more fully implement the engineering school,” Madigan said. It (the engineering school) is important to NIU’s growth and future, he said.

Following the luncheon, Madigan met with members of the SA and the NIU student regent. SA President Jim Fischer said the possibility of getting a vote for each of the three student regents was discussed. Currently, in matters of the Illinois Board of Regents, the three student regents get one collective vote.

The Madigan visit was the first of NIU’s “Legislator in Residence” program designed to bring members of Illinois government to NIU to see and learn more about the university.

Kenneth Beasley, assistant to the president and program coordinator, said he hopes to bring many different representatives to NIU “to see the university and know more about it.”

“Our ultimate goal is to have a complete ‘Legislator in Residence’ program in which legislators would spend two or more days on campus,” he said.

The program is designed “to give us (the administration) the chance to show what NIU is about and see what is happening in the Illinois General Assemb