Student Affairs Council Is Back! Faculty Senate Looks Inward

Dan Maurer, News Editor

After having been dormant for quite some time, the Vice President and Dean of Students for Student Affairs, Dr. Terry C. Mena, has reconstituted the Faculty Council for Student Affairs (FCSA). This council includes Adam Goldstein, who sits on the Faculty Senate, Dr. Elyse Bolterstein, and student representative Edwin Medina, who is the President of the Student Government Association. The FCSA advises Dr. Mena in his role as Vice President of Student Affairs. According to Goldstein, Dr. Mena “is looking for policy recommendations in relation to how we communicate with students on campus and process student issues pursuant to resident life and to the shared governance of students.” As Dr. Nancy Wrinkle, the chair of the Faculty Senate said, that includes The Nest, which is NEIU’s dormitory on the main campus.

The Nest is of concern to many faculty senators. Dr. Olivia Perlow said she is fielding complaints regarding dorms from students, saying, “I’m hearing students having issues with The Nest to this day, constantly. It’s not a one-off.”

Dr. Wrinkle expressed interest in The Nest’s financial aspects, occupancy rates, and “what is going to take for us to start at least breaking even on that project.”

Dr. Tim Duggan said, referring to the FCSA and the Faculty Council for Institutional Advancement, “This is really an area where we need to focus our attention using the councils to hold the vice president areas accountable.” He said he had heard from a student who had recently moved out of The Nest and quoted her as saying, “She was done.” He reflected on the contract with American Campus Communities Inc. as he said, “We must have had the worst attorneys on the planet when they originally made this deal with the management company.”

The Independent previously reported on The Nest, and also published testimony from an international student who had been living there.

The Faculty Senate also directed its attention inward for its meeting on Feb. 14, 2023. Top of the agenda was a discussion about limits on public comment. Dr. Wrinkle noted that public comment periods had gotten long, and that the senate tended to run out of time to listen to guest speakers. No decision was made on rule changes for public comment during this meeting. Another topic discussed included allowing remote attendance and voting for Senate members, as needed. In addition, the Faculty Senate will be discussing the ways in which it carries out voting integrity, and its policy on secret voting and mechanisms to ensure that Faculty Senate resolutions are “binding and enforceable.”

On the topic of integrity, Dr. Aneta Galary said, “I believe that senators who, for whatever reason, feel intimidated or afraid to speak should reconsider whether they want to be on the Senate or not,” adding, “I think we are doing a disservice to our constituents if we are afraid to speak or to vote.”

This topic will be discussed further at the next meeting on Feb. 28, 2023.

Dr. Wrinkle, in her Chair’s Report, noted the resignation of Kimberley Buster-Williams, the Vice President for Enrollment Management. She also noted that Associate Director for Transfer Enrollment, Patricia Rodriguez, had also resigned. She added, “I’m hoping that we’ll hear from the President today about a plan for immediately stabilizing Enrollment Services in the wake of these resignations.”

President Gloria J. Gibson also attended the Faculty Senate. In her report to the Faculty Senate, she shared that NEIU’s overall student retention rate, from fall of 2022 to spring of this year, was 80.7%. She also quoted enrollment numbers, saying that, as of Feb. 13, 2023: 287 first-time, full-time students, and 64 transfer students intended to enroll, adding that it was still early in the year. President Gibson said she had asked Buster-Williams to give her a transition plan with recommendations for the next steps, but that she had “no specific information today.”

The Faculty Senate confirmed Dr. Linda S. Nidelkoff to the senate, representing the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education, non-tenure track. The Senate also confirmed Dr. Brooke Johnson as the Faculty Senate’s representative to the Faculty Advisory Council of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.