NIU needs loss prevention plan

Editorial Board

The Northern Star Editorial Board considers NIU’s recent mismanagement of equipment a poor reflection on the administration as a whole, especially during a time when it’s requesting additional state funding. It is imperative the administration takes more responsibility and holds itself accountable.

It was reported that 1,288 items worth $1.6 million could not be located by the university, according to the March 28 Illinois Auditor General report.

While the university has accepted the Auditor General’s recommendations and developed a form to locate the missing items, NIU did not specify in its response to the Auditor General’s report how it would prevent the loss of equipment in the future.

Recently, the university paired up with the University of Illinois to endorse a piece of legislation which would guarantee NIU receives $93 million per year for the next five years, according to a March 19 Northern Star article. The proposed bill will require NIU to meet certain “performance standards” during the five-year agreement, like increasing the base rate of in-state tuition and maintaining an overall retention rate of at least 75 percent in undergraduate programs, according to a March 8 NIU and U of I joint press release.

NIU entered this deal in hopes of representing underserved populations, but the administration is not proving they are responsible enough to properly handle additional state funding. Administrative protocols need to be strictly followed in order for state legislators to be confident in the university’s financial management.

This request for funding comes as no surprise, however, the amount of items and money lost is a clear demonstration of a “lack of accountability,” according to the March 28 Auditor General report.

The university’s recent disregard of property is unacceptable and may cause Illinois legislators to believe NIU isn’t responsible enough to garner additional funding from the state. Along with the newly developed form, NIU administration should devise a plan to prevent university property from being lost in the first place.

By requesting money from the state, the university is implying it can efficiently manage the funds and equipment it already has. In this recent case of loss, it is uncertain if legislators will sympathize with and provide funding to a university that so easily loses track of over a million dollars in university property.

The question becomes whether or not the university can be trusted to allocate funds to its proper departments and ensure administrative responsibilities, like equipment management, are taken care of efficiently.

Before the university can expect to receive guaranteed funding from the state, NIU must demonstrate it is able to responsibly handle items that are paid for with taxpayer dollars.