Faculty Senate Demands Communication, Action from Board of Trustees

Dan Maurer, News Editor

The NEIU Faculty Senate passed a resolution on April 11, 2023, demanding a better working relationship with the Board of Trustees (BoT) in its new makeup, after five new members were added in recent months due to four dismissals and one resignation earlier this year.

In its resolution, the senate cited the Dec. 5, 2022 vote of no-confidence in the BoT in which 92% of the faculty assembly expressed their lack of confidence in the Board’s leadership.

The senate went on to demand that the board members respect the knowledge and expertise of faculty members, and that they “Get to know us, the culture and data of the NEIU community as a whole.” The senate also demanded that the board address concerns about “harmful Administrative decision making,” and that board members be available for “consistent, transparent dialogue with the University community.” Additionally, the senate passed a resolution regarding a proposed reorganization of the university’s different colleges.

“The reorg is not the mandate that it used to be,” faculty senator Denise Cloonan said of the reorganization that had previously been proposed by the administration. She said the College of Arts and Science alone had been asked to cut their budget by between $1.3 million and $1.9 million. That is a much larger amount than the roughly $600,000 that the original reorganization proposed at the Feb. 7, 2023 Budget Town Hall would have saved for the entire university.

The resolution cited a lack of communication from President Gloria J. Gibson and Interim Provost Andrea Evans, as well as the rapidly approaching Fall 2023 semester and “imminent departures” in administration. The Faculty Senate demanded that the administration “immediately send a written communication” directly to faculty members explaining recent changes to the proposed reorganization.

Two other resolutions were not passed. A proposed statement detailing “Senate Expectations for Future Leadership” at NEIU was withdrawn as the senate asked Chair Nancy Wrinkle to seek the endorsement of other shared governance bodies of the university before it would be considered again.

Another resolution asking the University to restructure the NEIU For You Scholarship was also withdrawn, pending further research. Nancy Wrinkle had discovered that the scholarship only applied to up to 12 credit hours per semester, but that many science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students who take four classes in a semester routinely take on 15 to 19 credit hours in a semester because many of their required courses are worth four or five credit hours. Most classes at NEIU are worth three credit hours, and so four classes would amount to 12 credit hours.

This has left some students who are eligible for the NEIU For You scholarship to pay the difference out of pocket. According to Wrinkle, the scholarship was intended as a “top-off” for eligible students to cover remaining costs that other grants and scholarships do not cover.

After discussion among senators, and as there is time before the NEIU For You scholarship is up for renewal, the resolution was withdrawn so that more research could be done to find out how many students are affected by the gap in funding, and if students in disciplines other than STEM are also affected.