President to visit state lawmakers

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKALB — President Doug Baker delivered a report about legislative progress being made in Springfield during a March 9 Board of Trustees meeting.

Baker said all presidents from Illinois universities were given a 20-hour notice to appear in front of the state Senate Higher Education Committee.

“I think we were invited down because negotiations are underway, if that’s the good news,” Baker said. “The bad news is we haven’t gotten to the grand bargain in the Senate yet. The good news is I think the log jam is creaking some.”

The committee wanted to hear about the influence budget reductions have had on public universities.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed NIU allocation for Fiscal Year 2018 would reduce funding from about $91,029,700, the last full budget allocation in FY15, to about $77,428,800, according to Feb. 15 state budget documents.

In the first half of FY17, NIU received about $48,429,000, while expenditures are expected to exceed $82 million. Current budget proposals do not address the remainder of FY17.

“I would just like to point out that there are also no fewer than 30 substantive legislative proposals that have surfaced in Springfield that propose various measures that impact students we admit, certain requirements … some of them impact the way we operate,” said Mike Mann, associate vice president of state and government relations and board liaison.

One such proposal seeks to expand FY18 Monetary Award Program grant funding by 10 percent, according to a Feb. 16 NPR article.

Mann said NIU’s Legislative Affairs, Research and Innovation Committee is working with legislators and legislative staff as well as other higher education institutions in the state to support, oppose or voice concern for some of the proposals.

Baker is scheduled to give testimony before the Senate Appropriations II committee on March 30 and the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee April 13.

Former Board of Trustees to sit on Illinois’s Board of Higher Education

The Board of Trustees read resolutions that prepared Feb. 16 that honored three former board members: Cherilyn Murer, Marc Strauss and Robert Marshall.

Murer and Strauss both served two six-year terms on the board. Marshall resigned after one term.

Murer, who was appointed by Rauner to serve on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Feb. 10, said NIU will always hold a special place in her heart. Murer serves as chair for the Legislative Affairs, Research and Innovation Committee and the Compliance, Audit, Risk Management and Legal Affairs Committee.

“Being chair during two of the most tumultuous periods, one of tragedy and growth, one of hope and opportunity with a new president, positions us to know that the future is ours,” Murer said. “The future is bright if we only seize those opportunities.”

Strauss, who served from 2005 to 2017, received recognition for the work and dedication he provided for NIU and was presented with a gavel and stand.

“I’m grateful for your acknowledgments today of the contributions that I’ve made of the last 12 years,” Strauss said.

Marshall, who took an interest in NIU’s equity in enrollment, was appointed to the board by former Gov. Pat Quinn April 28, 2011. Marshall spoke about his experience of being “an invisible man” when he first attended NIU in 1956 but noted the progress NIU has made in acknowledging diversity.

“I’ve been very honored to give anything back that I could to this university,” Marshall said.

Lindsey Salvatelli is a staff writer. She can be reached at [email protected].