NIU presidential candidates: Please come forward

The Northern Star Editorial Board is asking you to come forward.

After seeing the FBI on campus— across the street from our office, in fact—we realized this school needs an open leader now more than ever.

In the Board’s “Clean Slate” editorial series, we asked the university and community to be more transparent. As students, we are stakeholders in everything that happens at NIU. Every decision made at this university affects our lives.

We need honesty, and the Editorial Board believes it begins with you.

This is your chance to step forward and show us you care about the university and this presidency would not be just another job. We can only take the best at a time like this. We need to know our potential leader in order to trust them.

We understand you have jobs you wish to protect. However, as a possible president to our university, you should be showing us you are different. By coming forward and telling us who you are, you can begin to make a change in a place that needs it now more than ever.

Let us know who you are, why you’re here and what you hope to do. Impress us with approachability and honesty. The campus and community deserve to know who you are and who you want to be.

Be honest with us. It would be a refreshing change. It would be the start of something new.


The Northern Star Editorial Board


The “behind closed doors” approach to finding NIU’s president is completely unacceptable

The discovery of the “Coffee Fund,” the firing of Police Chief Don Grady and the paid leave of the chief operating officer and vice president leave many wondering what is happening at NIU.

This is a crucial moment for the community, and its members must know who will be President John Peters’ successor. The community wants to be involved with the presidential search.

However, NIU chose to keep its search under wraps by not including the community in the search process.

The Beginning

Peters announced on Oct. 11 that he will step down June 30.

On Nov. 8, the Board of Trustees authorized the formation of a Presidential Search Advisory Committee. The duties of the committee are to advise the board and submit candidates for the next university president. The board plans to have a president in place on or before July 1.

NIU appointed Parker Executive Search, which helps discover good fits for companies and universities, to assist with finding a president.

However, the community was not asked to become involved.

The Search

By March 12, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee narrowed the applicants down to four finalists.

The members were scheduled to meet with “different university stakeholder groups” Saturday, according to NIU Today. The community was not able to choose who the stakeholders were and was not given a chance to try to be a part of the groups. The community doesn’t know who the stakeholders were; it doesn’t even know who it is being represented by.

NIU held closed sessions and has hidden the candidates’ names to protect their privacy.

This is a poor move.

Everyone is a stakeholder in the presidential selection process, not just the people behind the closed doors.

Community members, students, families and friends of the university deserve to know who is being considered for the top position at Northern. They deserve to have a say in the matter.

This is not a new idea. Other Illinois universities have opened up presidential searches to the community.

Jay Groves, Illinois State University chief of staff, said ISU will have an open forum for its presidential candidates. The candidates will be interviewed by students and faculty.

According to the Columbia Chronicle, its university’s students were able to attend an open forum on Feb. 13 with their new president prior to his appointment.

When Peters was hired in 2000, the community knew who the candidates were and there were events held where students could ask the candidates questions.

Open forums are not outdated and should be embraced.

‘We Need to Know How the Candidates Can Help Us’

The Editorial Board understands these candidates want to protect their current positions, but at a time of scandal at NIU, everyone needs to know their background and motives.

The university and its students, faculty and staff should be protected more than other peoples’ jobs. Protection of NIU is something administrators need to take care of in their day-to-day activities.

We want to know if the candidates have experience at other universities; if so, what do they know about running an institution like NIU? We need to know how the candidates can help us, and what they want for us.

We wanted NIU to include the community in such an important decision. We wanted the community to get to know the people who want to be our university’s president.

We also want to know how the president will handle major personnel changes, including in the Athletics Department. Athletic Director Jeff Compher will leave for East Carolina University May 1, which leaves a vacancy in that position.

If the president is hired around July, the deadline for the hiring, that gives him or her less than two months to find a new athletic director before fall sports start up. That isn’t a lot of time for both the new president and new athletic director to get accustomed to life as a Huskie. How will that person deal with this short timeframe?

We don’t know—we haven’t been able to ask the candidates.

Daily Reminder

The Editorial Board will publish a daily reminder of how long the community has been kept in the dark in regard to the presidential search.

The Editorial Board wants to increase reader awareness and put NIU in the spotlight until the candidates’ identities are revealed. The Northern Star will publish a daily counter showing how many days have elapsed since the PSAC was formed—how many days, that is, that we’ve gone without knowing the presidential candidates.

This information will appear online and in print, and will only be removed if candidates step forward or if NIU chooses to include the community in the search process.

Moving Forward

The Board of Trustees announced Thursday that the new president will be chosen by month’s end.

However, that does not leave room for the community to get involved or help choose a new president. It’s never too late for an open forum, and it’s never too late for change. Change can begin if NIU chooses to let the people in on this important decision.

If not, the Editorial Board will continue to pursue this issue on behalf of the unrepresented stakeholders.