Regents approve fee package

By Ken Goze

Student fees will increase slightly and a consultant will determine job duplication as a result of decisions reached at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting at Sangamon State University.

The Board approved a fee package that is one of the smallest increases in recent years.

NIU students next year will face hikes in only two of more than a dozen student fees and a 3 percent increase in room and board rates.

The activity fee, which supports the Student Association, will increase from $48.48 to $52.80 per year and the cost for sending official transcripts would jump from $3.50 to $5.

The health insurance fee actually would drop from $250.48 to $243.26 per year. Residence hall rates for the 21-meal plan would rise from $2,841 to $2,926.

The Regents also set in motion the search for job duplication between the three Regency universities and the Chancellor’s Office—a year after the idea was proposed. The board gave the go-ahead to begin negotiations with the Bronner Group, a Chicago-based accounting firm, to conduct a review of the system.

The move was approved after some wrangling over costs and the provision that alternative funding sources such as grants will be sought to help pay the $35,000 consultant fee.

Although the move could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by consolidating highly paid positions, the system’s three university presidents said tight budgets could make even a shared burden hard to bear.

Regent Sylvia Nichols said before moving ahead, the board should find the money and consider other options.

Regent Joe Ebbesen, who initiated the effort a year ago, pushed for the plan’s approval and fought efforts to table the proposal for further consideration.

“You can’t tell me there isn’t $35,000 somewhere in the system to pay for this,” Ebbesen said.

The consultant would review the top 40 to 60 positions in the system and report back by June or July. The cost would be split among the three Regency schools and possibly the Chancellor’s Office.

The Regents govern NIU, SSU and Illinois State University at Normal.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said the review is needed, but probably won’t turn up much bureaucratic bloat.

“I think they’ll find that we’re a pretty efficient operation. The Board of Regents has never been excessively funded. I think on the whole, this will be a reassuring exercise,” Groves said.