Faculty Member Proposes Call for Immediate Intervention from Board of Trustees

New Trustee Added to Board While Four Were Not Renewed

Dan Maurer and Leslie Lozada

NEIU’s Faculty Senate met on Jan. 17, 2023 for the first time this calendar year amid an administrative shake up and ongoing enrollment crisis for the university. During proceedings, Senator Aneta Galary made a motion for a resolution for the senate to request “immediate intervention to prevent any further damages to the university” from the Board of Trustees, citing recent votes of no-confidence in both President Gloria J. Gibson, and the Board of Trustees in its previous makeup.

Other justifications for this intervention included how President Gibson has been allowed to retain her post for the next six months with full authority as well as a directive from Interim Provost Andrea Evans to “drastically reorganize the academic colleges at the university with no consultation from deans, chairs, faculty and other university stakeholders.”

The resolution also cites the employment of Dr. Diane R. Fuselier-Thompson as the Interim Associate Vice President for Student Success and Retention, who has been working remotely while employed at another institution, and the fact that the current administration will not be present at the university in six months to be accountable for the changes that they enact.

The motion was ultimately tabled, however. A special meeting of the Faculty Senate was held via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. In order to pass the resolution that was brought to the meeting on Jan 17, 2023.

Trustees Jim Palos, Carlos Azcoitia, Sherry Eagle, and Jonathan J. Stein, whose terms were set to expire on Jan. 16, 2023 did not have their terms renewed. Stein had previously doubted the commitment and competence of NEIU Students. Since then, Jose Rico, an NEIU Alumnus and the Director of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Greater Chicago has been appointed as a new board member. Rico also previously served as the former Executive Director of the Obama Administration’s White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.


VP Buster-Willims Is Asked About Her Job Performance


The tabling of Galary’s motion allowed the Senate to hear from Kimberly Buster-Williams, the Vice President of Enrollment Management. Buster-Williams addressed the senate and spoke at length of her team’s tactical and strategic planning, as well as early difficulties with critical staff turnover.

The VP quoted increases of applications, 50% in transfer applications and 130% in first-year applications. She also said acceptances for transfers are up 30% and first year students are up 282%.

Buster-Williams was asked, considering those increases, why the administration was projecting a 10% decrease in enrollment for Fall 2022 and using that as justification to reorganize the university and cut positions. She then launched into a lengthy explanation of how this is NEIU’s first full year listed on Common App, a college application website, and the difficulties of measuring the success of that listing, failing to comment on the administration’s calculus.

Professor Nancy Wrinkle’s chair report to the senate showed that, while NEIU has managed to attract more new students this spring semester, as compared to last year, retention is still an issue, and credit hours are ultimately down 8% from last spring.

 She also addressed concerns from the Student Government Association (SGA) that the student body was being left out of the conversation, and expressed her intention to attend a meeting of the SGA to learn how better faculty can connect with NEIU students.

President Gibson also spoke to the Faculty Senate, her first attendance in four meetings. She did not comment on the university’s fiscal or enrollment crisis. Instead, she spent her time quoting Trustee Jose Rico’s qualifications and speaking about an initiative by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association advocating for legislation to allow community colleges in Illinois to offer four year degrees. When asked about the scandal involving Fuselier-Thompson, Gibson said she was “not at liberty to discuss personnel matters.”

The Senate also confirmed Professor Timothy Scherman as senator to replace Ken Vogelsonger on an interim basis for the year, and Mark Melton to the Senate Steering Committee which drafts the Faculty Senate’s agenda.


“A change needs to be made” Special Meeting on Jan. 23, 2023


During this special meeting, there was further review of the resolution. President Gloria J. Gibson was in attendance, but made no comment during the duration of her time in the meeting, and left before the half-hour mark.

Several key members present at the meeting did their “due diligence” to fact check the information to present the resolution to Governor JB Pritzker, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Board of Trustees.

Information was raised during the meeting, such as Qiumei Xu, who is the interim chair for the Department of Management and Marketing, and later Olivia Perlow, mentioning the reduction of chairs from their departments. There was a public comment from Dr. Liz Rodriguez about the impact of reorganizing will have for the entire university, particularly that of mass layoff of staff in the university.

Scherman, who was acting chair for most of this meeting, upon hearing from other members of the senate, appreciated them for “pressing us to say everything accurately and to make sure we don’t make any claims that are inaccurate”.

In response to the different issues about the state of the university, which were not added to the resolution for the sake of brevity, Scherman stated that “this reorganization is about changing the mission of this university… We can’t be a university that only has four departments that are kind of the average person graduating from college. What makes us who we are is that we are a full service university for a population that is underserved. They deserve small departments as well as large.” 

A vote was called by Perlow during the meeting to support the resolution, which was conducted anonymously. The results were officially announced towards the end of the meeting, which was passed with nine votes.