IBHE rep to defend PQP plan

By Peter Schuh

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has scrutinized public universities for the last two years with its Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative, but some Illinois legislators will be turning the tables today.

The first of three legislative hearings on PQP will be held from 10 a.m. to noon this morning in the Illinois Room of the Holmes Student Center.

“We will hear what the Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative is hoping to accomplish, what its goals are for NIU and how NIU feels it has been affected by the process,” said State Senator Brad Burzynski, R-Sycamore.

Burzynski said IBHE Executive Director Richard Wagner will testify at the hearing to explain and defend the PQP initiative.

James Norris, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he is happy to see the legislature taking an interest in PQP and higher education.

“I think the legislature has a responsibility to higher education,” he said. “It’s a good thing they are showing interest.”

The hearing at NIU and two other planned hearings at Southern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University in Charleston were initiated and organized by Burzynski, who is head of the senate subcommittee on higher education.

Burzynski said he hopes the hearings will help make the legislature more aware of how PQP is affecting higher education.

The IBHE created PQP in an effort to gut the fat out of Illinois’ higher education system. Recommendations made by the IBHE last year caused the elimination of 108 academic programs across the state.

The hearing is open to the public. Burzynski said he is encouraging members of the university community to attend and give testimony to the legislators.

“We will have witness slips available at the hearing,” he said. “We hope to hear everyone who wants to speak but we will obviously be bound by time constraints.”