Political science professor named UPI representative

By Jami Peterson

A professional bargaining union fighting to represent NIU’s tenured faculty has named its top representative at NIU.

A recent balloting conducted by the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) unanimously elected Political Science Professor Kevin McKeough as NIU chapter president of the union.

UPI, a section of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) union council, has been pushing with no avail this semester to represent NIU’s tenured faculty members.

McKeough said he is honored to fill the position. “I believe that it is important in these difficult times for the tenured faculty at NIU to organize under UPI-IFT as our temporary faculty colleagues have already done,” he said.

McKeough referred to UPI’s recent victory in becoming the administrative representative for NIU’s temporary faculty.

The appointment falls before UPI’s scheduled hearing at NIU on Friday in which faculty members and students are invited to discuss their concerns about the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s recent initiative to eliminate and streamline higher eduction programs.

The Priorities, Quality and Productivity (PQP) initiative has raised concern on campus because it calls for the elimination of programs, including the College of Law and doctoral programs in Psychology, Geology and Geography.

“There are issues facing higher education in general and NIU in particular which I am convinced need to be addressed with strong faculty input,” McKeough said.

“The only guarantee for appropriate faculty input, I am finally convinced, is in a valid collective bargaining contract.”

He said he encourages faculty and students, whether or not they support UPI, to attend the hearing and testify as to their concerns about the PQP process. This input also will be taken by UPI to the IBHE hearing in Chicago on Nov. 23, he added.

“It is important to note that UPI-IFT is the only organization at this university to take these steps to provide a forum for faculty to speak to these concerns,” McKeough said.

UPI President Mitch Vogel was unavailable for comment. In a press release, however, he expressed his satisfaction with the selection.

“As we prepare to mount a successful collective bargaining campaign to gain much needed bargaining rights for NIU faculty, it is comforting to know that such a competent, dedicated leader has been elected,” the release stated.

Vogel’s assistant Barbara Scott said McKeough’s duties will include chairing Friday’s hearing, selecting other officers, acting as a contact person to the public and serving as a member of a negotiating team if UPI is accepted at NIU.

Friday’s hearing will be held at 1 p.m. in Room 405 of the Holmes Student Center.