Board of Trustees approves renovations to Holmes Student Center

Felix Sarver

A plan for a new campus hangout on campus was presented to Board of Trustees committees alongside budget approvals and marketing innovations on Aug. 25.

Jeff Daurer, director of capital budget and space planning, gave a presentation to the Finance, Facilities and Operations committee about renovating a section of the main floor of the Holmes Student Center into a new area called the College Grind. The College Grind will fulfill the technological needs of students, Daurer said.

The three areas Daurer plans to renovate are the computer lab, the information desk outside the computer lab and the area outside the main office.

“While the finishes remind you of Holmes or better than Holmes, the Grind is outfitted with the latest and greatest of Wi-Fi technologies,” Daurer said

Students and families will expect to connect to NIU services and systems with their personal handheld devices, Daurer said. The computer lab will still be in operation for students without handheld devices.

The Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee also approved the internal budget for Fiscal Year 2012. The state has still not given NIU almost $43 million of the appropriations owed from FY11, said Treasurer Eddie Williams.

Trustee Marc Strauss asked how this fact factors into NIU’s budget plans for FY12.

“Obviously it would give somebody pause to take a look approving a budget of the same level when you’re stilled owed $43 million from the last year,” Strauss said.

The state found $13 million in allocated funds available for distribution from an educational assistance fund in the FY12 budget, Williams said. The fund will probably cover no more than 20 percent of the FY12 budget, Williams said.

“Higher education is not the only state entity that is really suffering from the backlog of payments,” Williams said. “Health care and service industries are suffering tremendously.”

The committee also approved of the FY13 budget guidelines, which recommends three percent increase of faculty and staff salaries, three percent increase of utilities and technology and over $1 million for program priority requests for undergraduate education and off-campus programs.

Kathryn Buettner, vice preisdent of VP Relations presented to the Legislation, Audit and External Affairs Committee communication and recruitment plans for 2011. Buettner showed how NIU was increasing its focus on using social networks and mobile applications to attract students. Making the NIU website accessible to students was also important.

“One in five students have said they moved a college from their list of potential colleges because of a bad experience on the college’s website,” Buettner said.

NIU is also partnering with radio station B96 on their Friday promotional program for high school football games, Buettner said. Disc jockeys from B96 meet with high schools in the Chicago region on Fridays promoting high school games, Buettner said.

“We are one of the sponsors of that and the only academic institution in the post-secondary category that is a sponser of this effort,” Buettner said.

The partnership has allowed NIU to recruit students more effectively, Buettner said.