Manual causes official dispute

By Brian Slupski

NIU’s Academic Procedures Manual has been called “ancient” and “unreliable” by various officials within the university.

The manual stirred controversy when a July 13 Northern Star story implied that, according to the manual, before a program could be eliminated its department would have to consent to the action.

The story quoted section III (item 4-3) of the manual which states, “A recommendation requiring board (Board of Regents) approval must first be approved by the department, college and appropriate university committees and councils.”

According to previous statements from top administrators, NIU’s administration does not intend to seek the approval of some of the departments that are opposed to the program eliminations or consolidations listed in the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative.

However, PQP recommendations made to the Board of Regents July 21 and 22 involving four programs did have the consent of the four departments involved.

NIU officials are now saying the manual is unreliable because of arbitrary additions made before John La Tourette became NIU president in the mid-1980’s.

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody said NIU has followed the proper process and the university’s constitution and bylaws in making program recommendations. However, he would not say what the manual’s exact purpose is or whether it was used in the past to make program recommendations.

Art Professor Gordon Dorn, a committee member, said parts of the manual are “ancient” and that “it’s really a curious document.” He said the committee was reviewing every manual entry to see if the entries had legitimate shared governance sources.

Moody’s Monday comments were toned down compared to previous comments made after the July 21 Regents meeting. At that time, he criticized the Star, saying it had blown the story out of proportion and continuously prints negative stories. “The Star is really starting to —— people off,” he said.

Another high ranking administrator dissatisfied with the story said it was “full of ——.”

Some of the controversy could stem from the fact the manual can be interpreted in several different ways. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has developed a five-page position paper on the issue.

The paper states, “The college has taken the position that it does not want to ‘twist the knife’ by asking a department to prepare paperwork leading to the deletion of one of its programs … “

The paper also quotes section III (item 4-1) of the Academic Procedures Manual which states faculty are responsible for initiating curricular changes. However, it states, “On those rare occasions when other levels assume the initiative, the department curriculum committee and department faculty will be given timely written notice of the suggested changes that affect the department’s curriculum … “