BOR approves hiring of financial adviser

By Ken Goze

The Board of Regents approved continuing steps toward NIU bond refinancing and pushed along a stalled, yearlong effort to find administrative job duplication at the board’s Thursday meeting at NIU.

While several University Police officers waited outside the Holmes Student Center Skyroom for a disruptive protest that never happened, the board approved the hiring of Kemper Securities Group to serve as financial adviser for the refinancing, designed to raise about $15 million in new funds.

The board approved a measure to look at hiring an outside consultant to help find duplication between the three Regency universities and the Chancellor’s Office.

Regent Joe Ebbesen, who first raised the issue last May, suggested that an external review is needed to evaluate and build on recent reports detailing job functions at the four areas.

“We need to not spend, but invest dollars to see once and for all if there is duplication, eliminate the duplication, bring more efficiency into these areas and at the same time, save tax dollars,” Ebbesen said. “I’d like to see something get done by the next meeting. It’s been a year of frustration.”

Student Regent Jim Mertes said he wanted to find out how much was spent on in-house efforts so far and suggested using the auditor general’s office which he claimed would do the evaluation at no cost.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said an evaluation by the auditor general two years ago was “not too conclusive.”

Ebbesen said a quicker way to solve administrative bloat would be to get the legislature to take a budget ax to administration and shift the money to instruction.

Regent David Murphy said the system has to move the belt-tightening campaign along before the state intervenes.

“Arthur Quern (IBHE chairman) stated several times at the last meeting ‘Please do this yourself. If you don’t, we’ll do it for you.’ The money would be an investment in the whole system,” Murphy said.

The board also authorized NIU to seek short-term bonds for a $3 million project to install a campus-wide fiber optic system along with Lucinda Avenue improvements.

Officials say the system is needed to update NIU’s computer network and the widening of Lucinda will require old lines to be relocated.

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