Budget ax to cut department

By Rob Heselbarth

The budget ax has fallen again as NIU will be phasing out a department which serves almost 200 students because financial pressures won’t allow the university to meet accreditation requirements.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker announced Friday that the department of Library and Information Studies will be phased out by 1994. NIU cannot meet demands by the American Library Association’s Committee on Accreditation, he added.

“We will be moving into a phased change in that department,” Baker said.

“The principal reason (for the phasing out) is we have had extreme pressure from the ALA to provide various enhancement for the department which we can’t do because of financial situations,” Baker said.

The ALA has requested another full-time faculty member, another secretary and added graduate student support in order to meet accreditation standards, Baker said.

“Because of the economy and the way it is, the only realistic solution is to phase out the department over the next two years,” said James Lankford, dean of the College of Professional Studies.

Students in the strictly graduate-level program expressed their unhappiness with the decision. “I don’t understand (NIU President John) La Tourette’s agenda for closing departments,” said Kerin Putnam, a student in the department. “Where are (NIU’s) priorities?”

The closing of the department will allow all 181 graduate students who are currently enrolled in the master’s program to finish their degree requirements by 1994.

However, it will affect the faculty who work in the department.

“There are four tenured faculty we will be working with to try and keep them with the university,” Lankford said.

“We have mailed letters to students who are already in the program, and to those students who are considering entering, to inform them of the changes,” he said.

“Our main concern is to allow an educational process to continue while dealing with the faculty during the phase out,” Lankford said. “We will remain accredited during the phase out.”

The department’s Chair Cosette Kies said the program is in high demand with a waiting list to get in. About 40 to 50 people a year graduate from their program, she added.

By the time the program is ended, it will claim nearly 1,000 alumni since it began in 1961, Kies said. It has been accredited by the ALA since 1967.