Student leaders react to NIU’s new president

By Robert Baird

Student leaders will actively seek increased involvement with Doug Baker when he becomes NIU’s president.

Jack Barry, Student Association (SA) president elect, met Baker for the first time on Tuesday.

“I’m confident and excited that the Board of Trustees chose him,” Barry said. “He understands the issues we’re facing now, and I’m confident we can accomplish our goals.”

Barry will meet with Baker today.

“We’re going to go over the timeline for the next year and create an agenda, so I’m looking forward to that,” Barry said. “We’re going to talk about student involvement and how we need to be more proactive.”

Chris Pitts, Black Student Union president, said for student involvement to work best, the president needs to make a connection with the students.

“The voices of the students need to be heard about concerns on and off campus,” Pitts said. “There needs to be more interaction with the students on decision making. Throughout the search we’ve been behind the scenes. If we can create a relationship with this administration, it would improve the campus and everything would fall into place.”

Pitts said there is not only a disconnect between the students and administration, but also between the student leaders and the students.

“The administration is pushing its ideas without really consulting the students,” Pitts said.

Student Trustee Elliot Echols was among the Board of Trustee members who chose Baker.

“This is from a student perspective,” Echols said. “He understood the concerns of the students at [NIU]…. He understood that this was a really big issue for students. That’s one of the first things he said to me. He’s been doing research on the student issues here. He personally wanted to let me know that he will meet with students and student leaders to hear our issues and concerns. He comes from a nice diverse institution, and he’s known for implementing things.”

Echols said the student stakeholders were very impressed with Baker’s interviews.

“He understood the financial issues and social engagement,” Echols said. “He understood that there’s a disconnect. He understood that the students were disengaged from the city and wants to know ways that he can bring change to those issues. He is really motivated. The first day coming up, he was talking about a funding structure and overall plan and concept for the Recreation Center. He understood that it was really big for the students.”

SA President Delonte LeFlore was happy to see Baker’s background in business.

“He has experience and understanding of how to run an organization,” DeLonte said. “He understands some of the issues that we’re facing. He will take our vision 2020 and move it forward.”

LeFlore said Baker specifically pointed out that NIU has a lot of plans.

“Now it’s time–what ways are we planning on moving forward again? That was something he was eager to jump in and accomplish a lot of 2020 initiatives,” Leflore said. “I’m saddened that I won’t be able to work with him because I’m graduating. But I’m excited and I’m going to make sure that the Student Association continues to build that relationship with the President.”

Baker will succeed President John Peters on July 1.