Presidential search to start fall 2018

James Krause

DeKALB — After meeting with several stakeholder groups over the past several weeks, the Board of Trustees has set a timeline for their search for a permanent president.

The Board announced that in the “best interest of the university,” the search will not begin until fall of 2018. The search is anticipated to take about nine months, during which officials will to explore the backgrounds of candidates and eventually narrow down the field to one.

In a campus-wide email sent Monday, Wheeler Coleman, Board of Trustees chairperson, and Dennis Barsema, Board of Trustees vice chairperson, said the year-long delay will give NIU a chance to refocus and regain consistency at an administrative level.

“It was a combination of factors taken into consideration,” Coleman said.“We came to the conclusion that based on our needs, it would be best to hold off on a search at this point.”

A search committee of the Board and other NIU community groups will be established by the spring semester to help with the search process, according to the email. A search firm will be involved in the preliminary process, as well, but the firm will be identified later on. The Board heard from faculty, administrators and students, all of whom campaigned for the search to be inclusive and open.

“One of the compelling messages we got about inclusiveness and the transparency of the search was whether or not we could bring the final candidates on campus for some open forum participation,” Coleman said.

Many complaints from the 2013 presidential search, which resulted in the hiring of former President Doug Baker, focused on the idea that it lacked candidate awareness aside from a visit to NIU’s Naperville campus. Coleman specified to NIU community members that candidates who don’t share information with the public will have a low chance of being selected.

The move has drawn support from the Student Association, with which the Board of Trustees met earlier this month to discuss what students wanted from their future president.

“In general, we’re very supportive of it,” said Student Association President Rachel Jacob. “I think with everything going on recently it makes more sense to wait a year to give acting President [Lisa] Freeman a chance to take the reigns and fulfill her vision ­— fulfill her goals.”

The NIU community that met with the Board showed a lot of support for Freeman, according to the email. The Board echoed that sentiment, as Coleman said the support played a factor into the scheduling of the search.

“The fact that we feel we’re in good hands with Dr. Freeman, [who] has taken on a temporary role as acting president, has no doubt played a major role,” Coleman said. “We think she is very capable and she has an understanding of our current state.”