Board of Trustees approves preliminary internal budget

Board+of+Trustees+member+prepares+for+a+meeting+in+Altgeld+Hall+on+February+13th%2C+2020.+The+board+discussed+and+approved+housing+rates+for+the+fall+at+the+June+18+meeting.+

Patrick Murphy

Board of Trustees member prepares for a meeting in Altgeld Hall on February 13th, 2020. The board discussed and approved housing rates for the fall at the June 18 meeting.

Ahyen Labanan, News Editor

The Board of Trustees passed a preliminary internal budget for the next fiscal year and discussed several items of interest at Thursday’s meeting. 

The fiscal year 21, or FY21 begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2021. 

The budget

The budget passed is $361.4 million in revenue with expenses anticipated to cost $400.3 million, according to the board report

“This preliminary internal budget uses revenue and cost assumptions based on the limited available data that we have now and anticipates a shortfall of approximately $38.8 million,” Chief Financial Officer Sarah Chinniah said. 

President Lisa Freeman said NIU was on track with the previous budget and “optimistic” regarding enrollment management prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chinniah said the budget was guided by consideration of the health and safety of students and employees, following federal and state public health guidelines and aligning university operations with public health principles. 

Trustee Robert Pritchard praised the budget for being conservative and views it as an example for other government units. 

Chinniah also said the budget includes anticipated savings from voluntary pay give-backs by senior leadership, deans and coaches, the voluntary retirement program, reduction of extra help, hiring chill and seasonal layoffs that have happened. 

Freeman said this budget will need to be revisited quarterly. 

“Accordingly, the university will continue to take actions that preserve financial flexibility in the short-term, while being mindful of long-term financial needs,” Chinniah said. 

The budget will be revised and presented to the board at the next meeting on Sept. 17 to consider updated fall enrollment, residence hall occupancy and federal aid to universities. 

Room and board fees

The Holmes Student Center will offer 70 single occupancy rooms for students. A single occupancy room at the HSC will cost $5,440 per semester. 

By using the HSC, NIU has the opportunity to expand the number of rooms available to students, Freeman said. 

NIU announced students who plan to live in residence halls in the fall will be assigned individual rooms, according to a June 1 Northern Star article

Students who chose to live in a suite or mini-suite will have their own bedroom and share common spaces with one other student. Students are also required to wear masks in common areas around campus and in residence halls,  according to the Housing FAQ website

The room reassignment process will begin next week. 

“Housing prices will be held flat, despite the occupancy change for students,” Chinniah said. 

The following are rates for single occupancy rooms: $4,954 for Neptune Hall West, $5,440 for Gilbert Hall and Grant Towers, $5,404 for Stevenson Towers and $6,969 for New Hall, according to the board report. 

At Northern View, a 2 bedroom unit costs $3,860, a 3 bedroom unit costs $3,724, a single unit costs $4,500 and a 2 bedroom buyout costs $7,780. 

The Huskie Classic Dining Plan will be eliminated for the academic year. 

Appointments 

The board approved the appointments of Cassandra Hill as the next dean of the College of Law and Robert Brinkmann as the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Vernese Edghill-Walden was also appointed with a new title of vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. 

Hill, Brinkmann and Edghill-Walden’s appointments will begin July 1. 

Student Emergency Fund 

Renique Kersh, associate vice provost for engaged learning, said employees donated parking refunds of over $20,000 to the Student Emergency Fund. 

Kersh also acknowledged the need for resources for students beyond financial assistance is ongoing. 

Students can apply for the fund through the Division of Student Affairs. 

Elections 

The board conducted elections for FY21 board officers and Civil Service Merit Board representative.

Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Barsema, Vice Chair Eric Wasowicz, Secretary Robert Pritchard, Civil Service Merit Board Representative John Butler and fifth member Montel Gayles were re-elected for their respective positions.