Dean of education to focus on cuts, budget

Dean of education to focus on cuts, budget

By Julia Martinez

Laurie Elish-Piper, newly appointed dean of the College of Education, said she has already reduced 11 percent of spending by using the college’s budget effectively and not cutting employees or programming.

Elish-Piper was acknowledged as a Presidential Engagement Professor for “outstanding records of community engagement” as well as a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education, and she completed a term as NIU’s Presidential Advisor on College and Career Readiness, according to the College of Education website.

“We have done our very best to make sure the cuts have not affected faculty or students negatively,” Elish-Piper said.

Even with the state budget impasse, Elish-Piper said the College of Education is still working hard to be strategic and to reduce spending as much as the college is able to.

The state budget impasse is due to a lack of agreement on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Without a finalized budget, state appropriations cannot be given.

“We are in a position to continue operating and being very mindful of reducing expenses in any way while also maintaining the quality of [the College of Education] for our students,” Elish-Piper said.

Elish-Piper said she is excited for the findings of program prioritization so that the College of Education can then create an action plan to use resources efficiently.

Program prioritization, which began in 2014 after a recommendation from the Higher Learning Commission, uses task forces to create reports that review 223 academic programs and 236 administrative programs to influence the allocation of university funds.

The Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Elish-Piper at the March 17 Board of Trustees meeting.

“It wasn’t a contentious vote, it was a voice vote, and I trust the trustees and president and they seemed comfortable in their decision,” said Student Trustee James Zanayed.

Elish-Piper said the College of Education has looked at engagement experiences for students like working in different locations.

“I understand the state context in the area of education and, because of that background, I am able to understand both the NIU context and educational issues across the state of Illinois,” Elish-Piper said.