Trustees recognize NIU’s funding towards mandatory tuition waivers

Chairperson+Dennis+Barsema+responds+to+public+comments+at+a+Board+of+Trustees+meeting.

Northern Star file photo

Chairperson Dennis Barsema responds to public comments at a Board of Trustees meeting.

Aidan Bengford, News Reporter

DeKALB — Board of Trustees members were surprised to discover Thursday that NIU was covering the cost of all mandatory tuition waivers through an unfunded state mandate. 

Trustee Robert Pritchard informed the rest of the board that these mandatory waivers were at one time funded by the State of Illinois. Trustee Eric Wasowicz asked how the state funding was lost and if the funding could be reacquired. 

“At one point, during difficult financial times, (the state) shifted” that cost to the university, Pritchard said. 

At this point, it would be difficult to acquire funding from the state. Pritchard explained once funding is taken away it is rarely given back. 

NIU President Lisa Freeman and Wasowicz said they were happy to support the veterans and foster children supported by the mandatory tuition waivers now that the state has shifted the waivers to be an unfunded mandate.

The Board of Trustees also approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Metropolitan Police Alliance regarding contract terms with Police Sergeants. The agreement will be valid effective July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2024.

“The terms and conditions (of the previous contract) remain in place until successful negotiations,” said General Counsel Bryan Perry. 

The last contract officially ended in 2018, but the terms were still followed until a new agreement could be reached. This contract will be up for re-negotiation in 2024. 

As a part of the discussion on the Sergeant Contracts members, the board stated they were looking to hire more officers and already had some in the police academy to come work at NIU. 

“We have 30 police officers, nine sergeants, 10 guard currently” employed as NIU police, Perry said. 

There are “vacancies we’re trying to get filled, and we have a couple of officers at the academy,”  Perry said.

Additionally, the first-year class has grown by 12% this year, surpassing expected benchmarks and marking the fifth consecutive year of growth in the incoming first-year class, Trustee Dennis Barsema said.