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Northern Star

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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

(From left) University Advisory Committee member Brad Cripe, Administrative Assistant Pat Erickson, University Council Chair and NIU associate professor Ismael Montana and NIU President Lisa Freeman sit at the council table during the University Council meeting Tuesday. (Christian Quevedo | Northern Star)

University Council discuss plans to introduce AI, virtual reality to classrooms

By Kaitlyn Lee-Gordon, News Reporter | April 10, 2023

DeKALB – New technology may be introduced to NIU classrooms in the upcoming years following the University Council meeting addressing Gov. J.B. Priztker’s proposed budget for Illinois universities.  BUDGET UPDATE While addressing the budget update,...

The SAFE-T Act, signed into Illinois law in 2021, will eliminate cash bail starting Jan. 1, 2023.

Illinois’ SAFE-T act and cash bail explained

By Evan Mellon, Assistant News Editor | November 17, 2022

A new piece of legislation that aims to end the cash bail system in Illinois has drawn controversy from some due to concerns that it might increase violence. The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, also known as the SAFE-T Act, was...

Emma Grace  Redmond-Mattucci poses in front of Swen Parson Hall. The College of Law is located in Swen Parson Hall.

NIU student studies towards undergraduate degree while in law school

By Jaylen Conwell, News Reporter | January 21, 2022

DeKALB — The Northern Illinois University community is made up of a diverse, hard working student group with a variety of interests. Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci has used the university's resources to study her own. Redmond-Mattucci is currently a...

TikTok working with Chinese government to monitor user data causes privacy concern

By Jack Baudoin | January 21, 2020

With billions of people using social media, concerns regarding user security should be higher now than ever before. Social media is more popular than it has ever been, with 3.8 billion people using it in 2019, according to a Nov. 6 article by TheNextWeb.TikTok...

Law firm applauds American Medical Association’s vape warning

By Northern Star Staff | September 17, 2019

The first law firm to launch a suit against JUUL praised the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration for cautioning the ban and use against e-cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes, according to a Sept. 11 press release.Heninger...

Precedent set with Arderns activism

Precedent set with Ardern’s activism

By Ali Qazi | April 1, 2019

Leaders around the world need to step up in regards to gun laws and follow the example set by Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand. Arden has been recognized for her swift action regarding gun laws and for showing solidarity with the victims...

Residents should remain receptive to gun laws

By Ashley Hines | January 23, 2019

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed bipartisan legislation providing increased state surveillance over Illinois firearm retailers and combating illegal gun trafficking on Jan. 17. For Illinois residents, the bill represents the first step in a string of much...

Cyntoia Brown finally receives clemency after harsh sentence sent her to prison for 15 years

By Alana Peoples | January 13, 2019

Cyntoia Brown, who was an inmate at the age of 16-years-old, will be released from prison Aug. 7 after serving nearly 15 years behind bars as a result of a life sentence she received as a juvenile. Being sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 is...

the cannabis leaf and judge gavel

US drug laws are far too strict on marijuana

By Chris Grask | October 28, 2018

Opioids are running roughshod over the American populace, and the cure grows from the ground in the form of cannabis. The plant fails to grow because the U.S. government refuses to utilize its full potential and would much rather stick to the same old...

Title IX and AlcoholEdu needs to be taken serious by all students

Title IX and AlcoholEdu needs to be taken serious by all students

By Haley Galvin | September 2, 2018

Title IX and AlcoholEdu training is required for NIU students to take at the start of their first semester at NIU, and rightfully so; students need to take the training seriously.Illinois requires all students in their first year at college to participate...

President Baker in review

President Doug Baker’s performance in the infancy of his tenure at NIU set the university back to a point in which it is struggling to return.

As the end of the spring 2017 semester approaches, the Board of Trustees is preparing for its annual review of Baker. It is important to remember what has come to light of Baker’s early performance as president.

Referenced in a Dec. 22 Baker Report, “complaints regarding procurement practices, employment decisions, and contractual arrangements that occurred in 2013-2014” have put a cloud of suspicion upon Baker and his administration.

Although Baker said the allegations had been investigated and “strategic initiatives” were implemented to address these issues, the extent of these practices and actions are still being discovered today. This continued lack of clarity to faculty and students who deserve to know what is going on at their university is unacceptable.

NIU has paid $189,145.46 to the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC as representation for Baker in an Office of Executive Inspector General investigation, according to payment documents received on April 27 through a FOIA request submitted to NIU by the Northern Star.

“Whenever there is an investigation by an agency — in this case, it’s not a legal suit, but it’s an agency looking at internal policy kinds of issues — it’s common practice or best practice that outside counsel be used for [the] president,” Baker said, according to a May 1 Northern Star article. “I’m sorry we’re having to do it, but that’s part of the indemnification clause that a president of a university has.”

However, the OEIG investigation is not the only instance for which Baker has required legal counsel. There is an ongoing lawsuit against Baker, the university and one of Baker’s controversial hires, Nancy Suttenfield, former interim chief financial officer, filed by former NIU Controller Keith Jackson.

The suit alleges Suttenfield hired a forensic audit firm to “dredge for evidence of wrongdoing” by Jackson and other employees that she and Baker wanted to terminate.

Baker is paid an annual base salary of $450,000, according to his contract received on April 5 through a FOIA request submitted to NIU by the Northern Star. In comparison, Illinois State University, which had an enrollment of only about 2,000 more students than NIU in 2016, pays its president, Larry Dietz, an annual base salary of $350,004, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education website.

While the Northern Star Editorial Board understands complaints are filed, rumors spread and investigations unfold at such a large state university, the amount of money spent on Baker — from legal fees, to travel expenses, to his large salary — is too much when keeping in mind the lack of a state budget for the past three years.

To account for part of a $35 million budgetary gap for Fiscal Year 2018 that may result from the Illinois budget impasse, a portion of university employees will be losing their jobs, according to an April 28 Baker Report. As these employees are laid off, it stands Baker will continue collecting a healthy paycheck.

Baker opened up the annual presidential review conducted by the Board of Trustees to faculty, staff and students in an April 17 Baker Report. The Editorial Board urges the participants of this review to pay close attention to what Baker has cost the university in money and peace of mind.

NIU spends $189K to defend President Baker

By Ian Tancun | May 1, 2017

DeKALB — NIU has paid thousands of dollars in legal fees to outside counsel for President Doug Baker as a result of an Office of Executive Inspector General investigation.The OEIG, a state agency that investigates allegations of misconduct, received...