Upcoming fiscal year budget still uncertain

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

Last week’s Board of Trustees meeting began with a couple of administrative changes and approvals of both exterior and interior renovations for the university.

Gloria J. Gibson, the newly appointed president of NEIU will not start her role until June 1. This left the NEIU community in the question of whether or not there will be any university changes approved within that time frame.

Acting Provost Wamucii Njogu was named as the acting president during this time. Professor Mark McKernin will take over as acting provost.

McKernin was recently serving as vice acting provost and contract administrator.

“My deepest gratitude goes to the Board of Trustees for their trust in my leadership,” Njogu wrote in a statement to the university on April 1. “As we get settled into our new roles we thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.”

Vice President for Finance and Administration Michael Pierick also announced his retirement on April 18 via a targeted announcement email to the university.

Pierick informed both Njogu and Gibson of his retirement plans. “I must say I am truly disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to work with her and with (Gibson). We have truly chosen an exceptional leader for the university,” Pierick said.

“It is important for everyone to know, during this time of transition for the University, that this decision has nothing to do with the transition and nothing to do with the university’s financial future,” he said.

“I know that all of you will be working hard with Dr. Gibson and with one another to continue the University’s success, regardless of the challenge.

“I hope I have the opportunity to connect with all of my colleagues and friends here in the coming weeks. Regardless, I wish each of you the best, and I wish the best for Northeastern,” Pierick concluded in his email to the university. His last planned day in office is May 18.

Board members also approved the budget expenses needed for the school’s technology infrastructure renovation.

The project is not to exceed $975,000, having a state fund of $725,000 and a budget of $250,000 from the school’s strategic planning development fund.

The IT infrastructure update will include upgrading the school to Cloud storage, replacing 10-year-old hardware and having Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that allows a graceful shutdown in the case of a power failure to avoid severe data loss.

The Planning and Construction department also concluded that the floors in room D-113 of Building D are beginning to show structural failure, with spreading cracks from the floor to the walls. Above the floor, asbestos was also found. The renovation for the Enrollment Service Management office was approved and will not exceed a budget of $450,000.

University members are still unsure of the amount of state appropriation they will receive for the fiscal year of 2019.

The approved university operating budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2019 totaled $92,310,300, an increase of about three percent above the preliminary FY 2018 operating budget base of $89,638,800.

The FY 2019 operating budget request was based on assumed state funding of $33,209,000, equal to the FY 2018 appropriation.

Further information will be provided about the state budget at a later meeting either in May or June.

Lastly, Board members approved an honorary doctorate for Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez.

“Congressman Gutierrez’s commencement speech will honor the Northeastern dedicated students and faculty. His legislative and life achievements are of true value and inspiration to many. For us at Northeastern, his accomplishments are testimonies to our students that they too can achieve great things in life,” Njogu said. Gutierrez will receive the honorary degree of humane letters during the commencement ceremony on May 7.