Faculty Senate looks at future of higher education


Michael Theodore, member of the Student Association Senate, gives a report at the faculty senate meeting on Wednesday.

By Felix Sarver

The challenges of higher education were discussed at a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday.

Raymond Alden, executive vice president and provost, gave a presentation to the senate on the problems higher education institutions are facing and the ways public universities like NIU can still succeed. Alden said higher education is being viewed more as a private good. While universities are withstanding a lack of public support, Alden said the expectations of universities from the state and federal government and the public are increasing.

His presentation pointed out initiatives that increased expectations like Race for the Top and the state’s goal of increasing the number of people with college degrees or certificates by 60 percent by 2025. Alden also pointed out another way universities face more expectations through performance-based funding from the state.

“The more they disinvest in higher education, the more they expect out of higher education,” Alden said.

Alden said NIU has opportunities to overcome issues higher education is facing in general. The university values high quality undergraduate and graduate education, he said.

Alden recommended NIU focus on bringing high quality programs like professional or degree-completion programs for on-campus and off-campus students. He also recommended NIU become a “value-added” university through engaged learning and making decisions based on visions, goals and data.

During his announcements, Faculty Senate President Alan Rosenbaum updated the senate on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC). The committee will work with the Board of Trustees (BOT) to select the next university president, following President John Peters’ announcement of his retirement.

Rosenbaum said the committee began developing a profile and job description for the position during their last meeting on Nov. 1. Rosenbaum said development of a profile was helpful for Parker Executive Search. Parker Executive Search is a firm that will help PSAC choose the next president.

PSAC will next meet at noon on Dec. 6. Rosenbaum said the PSAC and BOT will try to hammer out a description for the president.

“I’m confident this will be a successful collaboration,” Rosenbaum said.

In his report to the Senate, Mike Theodore, Student Association (SA) Senator, said the SA was assisting Student Affairs and Enrollment Management on bystander intervention training. He also said the SA was funding a trip to the next MAC Championship football game, and more students could join the trip.