State committee to discuss Regents bill

By Eric Krol

After making a stop earlier this week in downstate Charleston, the state House Higher Education Committee will pay a visit to NIU today to hear testimony on eliminating the Board of Regents.

The committee will hear viewpoints on a bill cosponsored by Rep. Brad Burzynski, R-Sycamore, that would get rid of the BOR, which governs NIU, and the Board of Governors, which oversees five state public universities.

The meeting will take place from 10 a.m. until noon in the Holmes Student Center’s Illinois Room and is open to the public.

The committee met Wednesday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston to hear views from representatives of the BOG school. The bill is being cosponsored by Rep. Mike Weaver,


According to the Eastern Daily News, EIU President Stanley Rives did not take a firm stand on the issue.

“The governing boards are an integral part of and an important strength of American higher education,” Rives said. “But how many governing boards and at what cost, particularly for their large bureaucratic staffs, are valid and important questions.”

However, the Daily News story also stated that the majority of speakers supported the notion of keeping the BOG.

Burzynski has said he is sponsoring the bill to eliminate a level of bureaucracy and estimates the state will save $3.9 million in office costs. The Regents office receives about $1.3 million in state funds each year.

However, earlier this week NIU President John La Tourette said the issue of getting NIU a separate governing board arises “whenever a political campaign comes up.”

Burzynski announced his intention to run for the newly-created senate seat last year.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves was unavailable for comment. However, Chancellor’s Assistant Cheryl Peck said Groves’ views are the same as past statements. Groves has said he believes NIU is better represented by the Regents.

According to La Tourette, there has been a push to get NIU its own governing board since 1957. Joe Ebbesen, a former state representative from DeKalb, spearheaded efforts to get a separate board during the 70s and 80s. Ebbesen is now a member of the Regents.

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