New student Regent to represent NIU

By Silvia Rosselli

NIU is about to get a new voice on the Board of Regents.

John Butler was appointed NIU’s student representative to the Regents, effective July 1, succeeding two-year representative James Mertes. Butler was appointed by Student Association President Paul Middleton.

The Regents govern NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and Sangamon State University at Springfield. One student from each university is appointed to a one-year term.

“I will primarily communicate the interest of the students to the Board of Regents. I like to think of myself as somebody who reminds the BOR that the students exist,” Butler said.

“Sometimes the Regents may forget the impact of a $200 increase in tuition because that may not mean anything to them,” he said. “They may have forgotten the value of a college student’s money.”

Butler said important issues are being discussed by the Regents and he thinks it’s important that students follow what’s happening.

With regard to how Gov. Jim Edgar’s proposed budget cuts on higher education will affect students, Butler said at least tuition increases will maintain what we have and hopefully ensure the situation will not get worse because now everything is dependent on what the governor does.

Also, the Regents hired Bronner & Associates, a consulting firm, to review if efforts in the Chancellor’s Office and in the top-levels of management at the universities are overlapping. The cost for the consulting firm is about $35,000 and will be divided by the Chancellor’s Office and the three Regency universities. The amount to be paid by each has not yet been determined, Butler said.

At the same time, Edgar has appointed a task force of 10 people to discuss streamlining higher education in Illinois, and perhaps getting rid of the Regents altogether, he said.

“I would be willing to suggest that I’m curious about why would the Regents hire their own consultants, if in fact the governor has assigned a task force, another interesting conversation when you discuss duplication of efforts,” Butler said.

He said both groups intend to reveal their findings at the Regents meeting at Illinois State University in July.

Finally, three new regents were confirmed by the Senate and each will serve a six-year term. They are: Chicagoan James W. Myles, treasurer of General Service Employees Union Local 73; Barbara G. Scheibling, owner of Corporate Image Design in Springfield and a Sangamon State University alumna; and Niranjan S. Shah, chief operating officer of Globetrotter Engineering Corp. in Chicago.

Butler said he’s planning to form a committee to help sort out some of the issues at the Regents meetings, so he can better voice what NIU students want.