NEIU Vice President Buster-Williams Hired Someone As Her Interim Associate Vice President Who Allegedly Works Two Full-Time Jobs in Michigan

Vice President Kimberly Buster-Williams
Photo from NEIU Website

Vice President Kimberly Buster-Williams Photo from NEIU Website

Erwin Lopez Rada, News Editor

Diane Fuselier-Thompson wrote in the acknowledgments to her dissertation to obtain a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that “my support system runs deep and wide including long-time friends and colleagues, who have provided encouragement and support along the way.”

Among the friends she names is someone who not only extended her support to Dr. Fuselier-Thompson’s academic success but who also recently bumped her up with an extra gig.

Kimberley Buster-Williams, NEIU’s Vice President for Enrollment Management, only interviewed one person for the Interim Associate Vice President of Student Success and Retention position on April 15, 2022, this person was Diane Fuselier-Thompson.

Dr. Fuselier-Thompson got the job right after the interview and started her tenure 17 days later on May 2, 2022. These facts were disclosed in an answer to a FOIA request made by members of the faculty.  

This rapid hiring made sense considering that fixing enrollment and retention is a task with an aging due date for NEIU’s administration. 

While it is true that hiring a friend is legal in Illinois and NEIU’s policy only affects direct family relationships, the issue is that Dr. Diane Fuselier-Thompson lives in Southfield, Michigan, according to the voter registration database, and already has a full-time job as a Social Work instructor at Wayne State University in Detroit.

According to Fuselier-Thompson’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages, she also works at Michigan Medicine, part of the University of Michigan system, although it is not clear if her facility is either at Flint or Ann Arbor Michigan Medicine’s Centers. Fuselier-Thompson is listed as an NEIU employee in the school’s directory and has not yet applied for Remote Work according to the same FOIA request made by faculty. 

The hiring process and initial start date of Fuselier-Thompson at NEIU happened while the school was struggling to meet its enrollment goals and she had to juggle between three alleged jobs, one of them located two states over from her listed place of residence. 

Vice President of Finance and Administration Manish Kumar, said to the NEIU community in August 2022 that if enrollment failed, “some difficult conversations are going to happen.” By that moment, Fuselier-Thompson should have received at least 3 months’ worth of salary from NEIU.

All Vice Presidencies supposedly made cuts of around 6% in November 2022 because of the administration’s failure to meet enrollment goals but Buster-Williams’ did not include the $130.000 salary of the Interim Associate Vice President in her austerity measures.

Christopher Childers, NEIU’s Executive Director of Marketing and Communications said via email: “The university does not comment on human resource issues.” Abby Murray, NEIU’s Executive Director of Human Resources, did not respond to our requests for comment. 

As of Jan. 15, Fusilier-Thompson still was in NEIU’s phone directory but she was removed from it before the Jan. 17 Senate Faculty meeting where Dr. Matthews brought up the Fusilier-Thompson situation. 

Buster-Williams said in that Faculty Senate meeting that she hired 6 interim positions to cover for the schools’ staff turnover when she started her tenure in order to finish registration for Fall 2022 and keep her office running but did not give details on Fuselier-Thompson’s employment.

The Vice President could assure that her staff was on Campus working up to September 2022 and then added, “Let me just say for all the terms that no one was given permission to have any outside employment.”

Editors Note: Buster-Williams responded with a comment stating that Fuselier-Thompson secured housing at the Northeastern Illinois Student Dorms in Chicago, The Nest, and that “she held [this residency at the Nest] from her hire date until the first week in January.”