BOR meeting to discuss declining NIU enrollment

By Jerry Lawrence

The Board of Regents had planned for a quick meeting at Illinois State University in Normal today, but a recent offensive by Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra might make today’s meeting a little more interesting than originally planned.

Kustra has renewed his calls for higher education reform which includes the abolition of the Regents. Lana Kains, spokesperson for Regents, said Kustra’s most recent attacks on the board might be discussed at today’s meeting, even though such a discussion is not included in the meeting agenda.

The board is scheduled to discuss enrollment declines at the three Regent universities, NIU, Illinois State University in Normal and Sangamon State University in Springfield.

A Regents report shows NIU’s total enrollment is down 875 students this fall to a total head count of 23,177 from last year’s enrollment of 24,052, while ISU’s enrollment dropped 718 SSU’s enrollment dropped 85.

The report lists several factors which have resulted in the system-wide drop in enrollment, including planned enrollment cuts by the three universities, a declining number of high school graduates and uncertainty over program eliminations.

The report also shows minority enrollment at the three universities has increased, despite the overall decrease in the number of students.

The Regents also are slated to discuss faculty roles and responsibilities in light of recent actions taken by the Illinois Board of Higher Education as part of the Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative.

In September the IBHE released a report entitled, “Enhancing Quality and Productivity in Illinois Higher Education: Faculty Roles and Responsibilities.”

Among other points, the report emphasized the importance of classroom teaching over academic research. The report also states universities should take an active role in nurturing the talents of faculty.

The Regents will discuss the report and how this new phase of PQP relates to faculty at NIU, ISU and SSU.