La Tourette seeks replacements

By Peter Schuh

In a letter which spawned a fury of debate and discontent during Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting NIU President John La Tourette announced his intent to pursue an internal search for permanent replacements for two acting NIU vice presidents.

At present, acting appointments are filling the positions of vice president and provost and vice president for development and alumni relations. In his letter, dated Aug. 30, La Tourette said he would like to find permanent individuals for these positions from within NIU’s ranks.

According to the letter, the most likely candidates for the positions could be the acting office-holders.

Although La Tourette did state in the letter, “I do not mean to convey an exclusive endorsement of the current incumbents,” he also added, “I have a very high regard for them both.”

During an address to the FS on Wednesday, La Tourette explained why he felt an internal search would be best and emphasized the need for the process to be sped along.

“We have excellent candidates, people who know the campus, who can do this with the support of faculty, students and staff. We need to address the provost issue appointment quickly, to ensure progress at NIU,” La Tourette told the FS. “I would like to have the Faculty Senate involved in this issue.”

However, several FS members as well as other NIU faculty members have voiced concerns that the decision already had been made without their input or consent.

In his letter La Tourette gave several other reasons for deciding on an internal search for the positions.

He said he felt there were several processes which NIU presently is involved in that would complicate the matter of infusing foreign personnel into NIU’s administrative hierarchy.

These include The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools ten-year accreditation assessment of NIU, the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative, upcoming searches for several dean’s positions which could be vacated in the near future and NIU’s “centennial campaign.”

La Tourette said he also was concerned with the financial aspect of finding candidates from outside NIU. He said a consulting firm had estimated the cost of each national search to be between $30,000 and $50,000.

In addition, La Tourette said if NIU chooses candidates from outside the university he thought NIU would have to pay “salaries considerably in excess of our (NIU’s) current structure” to obtain candidates who are experienced enough to adjust into NIU’s current situation.

La Tourette said this was because he would be too involved with “tasks” related to the IBHE, NIU’s accreditation and the centennial anniversary “to have the time to give new vice presidents the assistance and mentoring such people would appropriately expect from an experienced president.”

“There are times in the life of any institution when it needs and can profit from new leadership and the possibility of new ideas and a change of direction. There are other times when institutions are best served by the stability and by the opportunity to stay the course and complete activities already underway,” La Tourette added in his letter.