IBHE turbulence focus of address

By Brian Slupski

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody reiterated a turbulent past year for the university at his State of the University address Friday.

The turbulence has been caused by the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity (PQP) initiative, under which 190 academic programs have been recommended for deletion or consolidation statewide.

At NIU, 15 programs have been targeted, including the College of Law and doctoral programs in psychology and economics.

Moody said higher education is facing an “uncertain future and a crisis mentality.”

But, Moody pointed out that only a university’s governing board, like NIU’s Board of Regents, can eliminate a program. The IBHE only can make recommendations to cut programs to the governing boards.

At the IBHE’s November meeting, however, IBHE Chair Arthur Quern announced he planned to ask the state legislature to grant the IBHE program-cutting power.

Also, the governor’s task force on higher education, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra and Quern, is expected to release a report by Jan. 27 calling for the abolition of the Regents and the strengthening of the IBHE.

Adding fuel to the fire is an Auditor’s General report, released last week, which Kustra said showed “sloppy management and a lack of fiscal responsibility” on the part of the Regents.

Moody said he found the timing of the release of the report and Kustra’s reaction “strange.”

“It’s not uncommon to find a number of these kinds of findings in these reports,” Moody said. “It’s strange that it’s a big deal. I think that it is clearly being used (by Kustra).”