Council votes to change nepotism policy


Nicole Gault u007c Northern Staru000dJeff Kowalskiu002c a professor in the Art Departmentu002c answeru0027s a question about the Nepotism Policy during University Councilu0027s Wednesday afternoon meeting in the Sky Room at Holmes Student Centeru002e

By Jessica Sabbah

The University Council voted to recommend a change in the language of the nepotism policy in the Board of Trustees regulations during a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The council does not have the authority to make a change in BOT policy; however, the recommendation will be sent to NIU President John Peters to present to the BOT. The BOT has the final authority to approve, reject or amend the proposed changes.

The proposed changes include omitting the words “initiate” and “initial” from statements in parts of the nepotism policy at NIU.

The University Affairs Committee examined the policy in response to a spring 2009 Northern Star article that brought up the issue of nepotism at the university, said committee chair Cecil Smith.

Nepotism is showing favoritism based on kinship. The current nepotism policy at NIU states that “faculty and administrative employees are selected for employment and promotion without regard to relationship by blood or marriage in accordance with appropriate qualifications for the performance of specified duties.”

Smith said the committee focused on three things: the current policy’s adequateness, how NIU’s policy compares to other universities’ policies and if the policy is being enforced.

Smith said the committee found the policy adequate as stated. Minor edits, however, were recommended.

“The committee looked at the policy of other institutions, and we viewed our policy to be comparable, if not better in some cases to the stated policies of those institutions,” Smith said.

Some council members debated if the seven instances where the words “initial” or “initiate” would be omitted were a significant enough change to make the recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

Art professor Jeff Kowalski argued that the changes were needed.

Kowalski said leaving in “initial” may provide a loophole legally for people to argue the policy is only for the first time a person is promoted.

BOT Committee Reports

Three reports regarding Board of Trustees committee meetings were also presented to the council.

Alan Rosenbaum, University Council executive secretary, presented the report on the BOT Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee meeting.

Rosenbaum discussed a presentation by Jeff Daurer, director of capital budgeting and planning, about the electrical infrastructure problems on campus. The report said the system has passed its useful life expectancy and problems related to material breakdowns are starting to be seen. The report cited the incident last semester that electrical issues seriously damaged the computer system, resulting in a lack of Internet connectivity for over a day.

Phase 1 of a three phase plan was approved at the BOT’s committee meeting. Phase 1 is estimated to cost over $2.8 million.

How the university plans to pay for the infrastructure update is still unknown since the state has declined providing funding for more than 10 years.

“There is no funding for this,” Rosenbaum said. “We have to figure out how to fund this ourselves.”