Northern Star




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

Pass/Fail: Illinois recieves vital grant to fight against opiod crisis; Presidential search lacks any organization and focus

By Lucas Skye | April 30, 2018

See what’s a pass and what’s a fail as judged by PerspectiveEditor Lucas Skye.PassThe Illinois Department of Human Services is receiving a generous grant of $16 million in federal funding to support its fight against the ongoing opioid crisis.With...

Board of Trustees carelessness comes at heavy costs

Board of Trustee’s carelessness comes at heavy costs

By Editorial Board | April 19, 2018

 The Northern Star Editorial Board finds the outcome of the NIU Board of Trustees vs Misty Haji-Sheikh case to be costly and unnecessarily difficult when compared to a lawsuit filed by Sid Kincaid in 2016.Sid Kincaid, former Student Association senator,...

Congress rightly defends school funding from DeVos

Congress rightly defends school funding from DeVos

By Editorial Board | April 12, 2018

The Northern Star Editorial Board applauds the decision made by the U.S. House of Representatives to reject a proposal for educational funding made by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.On March 21, DeVos and President Donald Trump proposed the most recent...

Physical Plants flood cleanup applauded I want to congratulate and thank the staff of the NIU Physical Plant for all they have done and are continuing to do in the aftermath of campus flooding. They have been working around the clock to get all classrooms and office space on campus ready for the start of classes. The Art Building was particularly hard-hit, and the crews are continuing their efforts to ready the classrooms for later this week. I am deeply humbled by their dedication and tireless efforts. My hats off to all involved in the massive cleanup effort. Rich Holly Acting director, School of Art

Letter to the Editor: Student Governance

By Sid Kincaid | March 1, 2018

  In 1968, a President’s Committee published a "Final Report On Student Governance." This committee had three tasks: identify the rights and responsibilities of students in regard to conduct and academic pursuits; recommend structures and procedures...

Point/Counterpoint: Shooting prevention

By Mackenzie Meadows | February 26, 2018

Many Americans have strong opinions on school safety. On Feb. 23 President Donald Trump proposed we arm teachers to combat shootings.More armed security needed Mackenzie MeadowsPrincipals, deans and other office staff in every elementary, middle and...

President Donald Trump gestures as he delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan applaud. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

Donald Trump gives State of the Union address

By Associated Press | February 1, 2018

WASHINGTON — Addressing a deeply divided nation, President Donald Trump summoned the country to a “new American moment” of unity in his first State of the Union, challenging Congress to make good on long-standing promises to fix a fractured immigration...

President Freeman recounts the advice she was given by her late mother.

OPINION | Three words to describe: Freeman’s interim role

By Perspective Staff | August 31, 2017

President Freeman recounts the advice she was given by her late mother.

1st female president shares journey to NIU

By Lindsey Salvatelli | August 28, 2017

DeKalb | Illinois higher education leadership has needed to answer difficult questions during the past few years; however, acting President Lisa Freeman has spent the majority of her life seeking answers to unsolved questions.Freeman is the first female...

Freeman assumes presidency with $360K base salary

By Angela L. Pagan | June 28, 2017

Acting President Lisa Freeman speaks after accepting her new position at a Wednesday Board of Trustees meeting. 

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...