Freeman assumes presidency with $360K base salary

By Angela L. Pagan

Acting president Lisa Freeman will receive a $360,000 base salary following a unanimous vote during a Wednesday Board of Trustees meeting.

Freeman will serve as president until officials complete a national search for a new president following the enactment of President Doug Baker’s resignation Friday.

Freeman, who will begin her term Saturday, will also receive “deferred compensation in the form of $25,000 for each year that is completed as acting president,” according to an agreement between the Board of Trustees and Freeman.

“My focus, as I said, will be job one: transparency — making sure people have faith in the office,” Freeman said. “… I am going to commit to things like posting all of my travel receipts and reimbursement so that we diminish [Freedom of Information Act] not by asking people to stop sending in requests, but by putting out the information so people know the information is available to them.”

Freeman’s base salary is $60,000 shy of Baker’s annual salary of $420,000.

The appointment comes after Baker announced his resignation during a June 15 Board of Trustees meeting, claiming the release of the results of an investigation into his administration’s hiring and procurement practices in 2013 and 2014 caused too big a distraction on campus.

The two year investigation conducted by state watchdog agency the Office of the Executive Inspector General concluded NIU paid five individuals who were intentionally misclassified as affiliate employees more than a roughly $1 million combined between 2013 and 2014 — a choice the OEIG said was because of Baker’s “mismanagement” of the university.

Despite the circumstances, Freeman said she is excited to take on her new role.

“I assume the acting presidency with my eyes wide open and an understanding of the hard work ahead,” said Freeman.

In addition to her salary, Freeman’s employment agreement states she is entitled to between $20,000 and $25,000 of incentive compensation if she returns to the position of provost following the national search and reaches goals set by the new president.

Upon returning to her position as provost, Freeman’s current salary of $280,000 will be increased to $300,000

However, if Freeman chooses not to return to her position as provost, she will be given 12 months paid leave to prepare for an academic appointment within the Department of Biology. Her compensation will be between $280,000 and $300,000.

Christopher McCord, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean, was appointed acting vice president and provost while Freeman serves as president.

Among the duties Freeman said she anticipates fulfilling is her work toward increasing enrollment.

“I’m looking forward to working with Sol Jenson, our new vice president of [the Department of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications] to talk about our enrollment strategic plan and how I can help the university improve its reputation and show students and parents from around the state and the nation what a great place NIU is, how transformative the experiences we offer our students are and how affordable our education is, how well it prepares students for success,” Freeman said.