Helldobbler’s Town Hall Hopes to Open Doors

Sergio Almodovar

Provost Richard J. Helldobler began the town hall meeting to discuss NEIU’s issues of enrollment, end of the year spending and possible budget cuts.

Handling New Students

Currently, NEIU’s enrollment data shows a decrease of enrollment for the upcoming summer and fall semesters for graduates, seniors, juniors and sophomores. However, the number of freshman enrolled increased. Helldobbler said, “Overall we’re are down 3.7 percent in headcount, and 3.7 percent in credit hours.”

Helldobler was not discouraged by the numbers. “These numbers are concerning, but they are a little bit more optimistic because day to day comparisons don’t make sense,” said Helldobler.

Last year, students had 148 days to register, this year students have 197 days. “We have more time to reach out to them, to figure out why they aren’t registering. We’re giving them more time to fight their administrative holds and to fight the evil parking people and do all that kind of stuff,” said Helldobler.

“High school population [is] at a continued decline in this area until 2017. The only state right now that has a growing high school population that [is] adjacent to us is Indiana.” Helldobler explained that NEIU is going to increase its marketing dollars and change its focus, planning an increase of marketing in Indiana.

NEIU will also change its current criteria for accepting students. Previously, NEIU used a student’s high school class rank to determine whether he or she would be accepted, however high schools do not always provide a class rank for a student, nor the old method account for a school’s performance.

The “method of acceptance” will change to a weighted method that will take into account a student’s ACT score and GPA. After accepting students, Heldobbler wants to better identify students that need further assistance to progress in school.
“We’re bringing students and say, ‘ya’ll come’, [while] not giving them the support services and then wondering why they’re not succeeding. If we’re committed to these students, that’s unfair,” said Helldobler, “That’s wrong. That’s just morally wrong. So we gotta fix it. We can fix it”

These changes will be implemented for fall 2014.

Helldobler also announced that in the coming fall and spring semesters, there will be a monthly meeting called “First Thursday” that will be held on the first Thursday of every month to answer questions and discuss NEIU.

Cash on Hand

In 2013 there was $2,158,066 in the reserve, while this year it has $1,935,384. Helldobler plans to spend the money on improvements for the school, such as new televisions, marketing, new furniture, remodeling, and creating an online catalog.

A large percentage of the reserve will be spent on marketing El Centro and NEIU as a whole. $275,000 will be spent on marketing for El Centro, and $650,000 will be spent on marketing for NEIU.

NEIU has hired a grant consultant firm. “They will do what they call a positioning matrix. A positioning matrix last for a year and it identifies four grants in each quarter that we should strategically go after because we have the faculty and the proven research factor to go after them,” said Helldobbler.


NEIU is potentially facing huge cuts in state funding. In an email to faculty and staff, Heldobbler said, “We have attended two House of Representatives Higher Education Appropriations Committee Meetings and will attend an upcoming Senate Higher Education Appropriation Committee Meeting.”

“We have been asked for a variety of documents about enrollment, retention, recruitment and graduation rates” Helldobler continued in the email. “We have also been asked to prepare two conceptual documents: one that would propose a 20% cut (7.6 million) and one for a 12.4% cut (4.7 million). Both of these concept documents are related to the extension of the income tax, which is currently being debated.”

“We believe, at this point in time, that the income tax may be extended, but there is still a possibility that our appropriation could be reduced.” Heldobbler continued on to say, “We are hopeful that the 5% and 10% proposed cut becomes just an unpleasant exercise and the appropriation and enrollment remain level. This will still require a minor budget realignment to meet our strategic priorities but will certainly not be as drastic.”

When speaking about the potential cuts in the town hall meeting, Helldobler said that both of these potential cuts are “out of our hands”. Whether these cuts happen or not will be determined by the Illinois legislature. A decision will be made in Springfield by Memorial Day.