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Board of Trustees Meeting

Kim Mosied, after performing a magic illusion, chastises school trustees at a Feb. 9 board meeting

Kim Mosied, after performing a magic illusion, chastises school trustees at a Feb. 9 board meeting

Luis Badillo

Kim Mosied, after performing a magic illusion, chastises school trustees at a Feb. 9 board meeting

Luis Badillo

Luis Badillo

Kim Mosied, after performing a magic illusion, chastises school trustees at a Feb. 9 board meeting

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As NEIU prepares for the end of its spring semester, the academic year’s final Board of Trustees meeting had University board members convene for one final time before the summer. But amidst the usual delegation over union matters, approval of departmental programs and expenditures, are the angry voices of neighbor members. These neighbors continue to criticize board members for approving the school’s use of eminent domain to seize property on Bryn Mawr Avenue.

Neighbors Speak Out

Community member Gina Fong has spoken at BoT meetings for over a year.

“Since you appear unmoved by ethical and moral arguments,” she said, “I will read you the public comments from social media, regarding a recent interview of President Hahs, regarding eminent domain.”

“Margaret B. says ‘This bully at NEIU needs to be removed immediately,’” she read. “Dino V. says, ‘I’ve been down the so-called depressed, decaying block. I’d like to slap her.”

Student Vicki Peer presented the Board with 500 student letters, begging the BoT to withdraw the eminent domain lawsuit. “We don’t want dorms,” she said, “We don’t support it.”

Brooke Fallon, Assistant Director of Community Relations at Institute for Justice, said that the BoT was turning “a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of hardworking Americans [and] destroying a community.”

Bruce van Inwegen asked, “How do you sleep at night?”

“Frankly Sharon,” he said. “Who named you our neighborhood redevelopment czar?”

Student Max Miller said, “It’s hard to care when you’re in an ivory tower.”

“You don’t care about our rights,” said neighbor Kim Moseid. “Emotional and financial turmoil are going to force them to sell. They can’t hold out forever. They will be compensated, in paper. A piece of paper called money.”

Moseid held up a large, white paper cone. Then she held up a yellow card with the word ‘pride’ written on it and dropped it in the cone as she said, “you’re seizing their pride.”

“Their trust,” she added a yellow card reading “trust” into the cone. One by one, she added more yellow cards. One labeled “security,” one labeled “hopes” and the final one labeled “dreams.” When she opened the cone, the cards had disappeared as she said, “And you leave them with absolutely nothing but a piece of paper, and what is money good for, if you have no hopes and dreams?”

“During my summer, I like go to 7-11 with my friends and get a Slurpee. Bye bye, Slurpees,” said 14-year-old Celia Moreno. “When my mom doesn’t feel like making dinner, we always get yummy food from Hunan Wok. Bye Bye Hunan Wok.”

Her older brother Finn Moreno comes on campus all the time to swim and play tennis.

“School should teach us to be just,” he said. “When my little brother has something that I want, I don’t just take it. I’ve learned not to pick on the little guy.”

“You’re teaching us it’s okay to be a bully,” his sister said.

Chair Carlos Azcoitia referenced North Park University (NPU), another Albany Park university only a few blocks west of NEIU. Azcoitia said that NPU was also acquiring neighborhood property for university use. “The process of change is not easy,” he said.

Constance Speake, former NEIU music professor and neighborhood resident defended the dorms.

“It’ll improve the campus,” she said. “And the neighborhood will be safer,” referencing the added presence of the NEIU police.

 

Amid the public comments, Hahs maintained a visually calm demeanor

Luis Badillo
Amid the public comments, Hahs maintained a visually calm demeanor

Course Cancellations

Spring is almost over and fall classes are about to start, though not as many as anticipated by students and professors. Several fall classes have already been dropped and professors expressed concerned that more would follow at the BoT meeting.

“I understand budget cuts, but why cut courses?” Sociology professor Christina Gomez asked. “Courses are the heart of the institution. They bring revenue.”

Professors pointed out the growth of administration and tuition, but still there were severe budget cuts. “Prioritize teaching,” said Brett Stockdill, Chair of Sociology.

Though professor Cynthia Moran, Associate Chair of the CMT department accepts the new union contract, she is still concerned. “Approving contracts when in a time of uncertainty and course cancellation is little to celebrate,” she said. “The spending priorities are not in the right place and it’s hard to understand the decision to cancel classes.”

Sophia Mihic, associate professor of political science and president of the University Professors of Illinois (UPI) chapter at NEIU agreed. She said, “The negotiations proved course cancellations harming university.”
Labor Agreements

The University administration and the faculty union, the UPI, reached a tentative contract agreement on February 26, 2015. Union members approved it one month later. Mihic called the agreement “wonderful.”

“I’m proud to make it work,” she said. “This contract is a good example of mutual respect.”

The NEIU UPI represents approximately 600 university employees.

The Board also approved the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union contract. The AFSCME represents approximately 265 employees throughout the university.

Education

A new Masters program was approved for the College of Education. The Master of Arts in Community and Teacher Leaders program would focus on, as stated by the president’s report, “How to be a leader in a community through teaching.”

University president, Sharon K. Hahs said that the program “will break even or generate money as early as the first year.

The first year is estimated to earn just under $19,000, with the fifth year generating approximately $90,000. The numbers are estimated with a conservative number of 15 students. The program must be approved by the state of Illinois, and if so, it will be implemented as early as 2016.

The College of Education is still working towards what potentially may be NEIU’s first doctoral program, the Doctorate of Special Education. The doctorate program has been in development since 2007, with most of the work being done since Jan. 2013. Many board members support the program; however, it has a heavy financial challenge.

According to the president’s report in order to break even the cost, [for the students] would have to be three times as much. The Board is looking to revisit the program in the fall.

High school students may soon attend college even earlier. The Board approved a proposal to reduce the tuition rate for dual credit students by 50 percent of the undergrad rate. Dual credit students are high school students taking a university course, receiving credit from both the high school and the university. The 50 percent reduced rate is typical of many universities.

According to the president’s report, dual credit students are more likely to attend college, save twice as much money and graduate even earlier. The students will take the classes at their high school. The program must be approved by the state of Illinois and NEIU is looking to launch it in the fall.

Financial

The university has looked into the possibilities of how to utilize land on campus.

On the south half of the main campus, buildings south of the Ronald Williams Library run on a separate system from the north half. The north half has two major electrical feeds; however, the south half only has one.

Therefore, the south half does not have a central heating, cooling plant and sewer system that can support significant new building projects, though it has the most potential because of its open space. A new infrastructure is needed for the current ones, the Board approved the expenditure.

The project is estimated to cost between $13.4 million to $15.8 million; the funds for the project will come from the University Reserve Funds.

$351,000 will be used to purchase a web-based Assessment Management System. This software is a requirement of universities to keep track of important data assessing student learning. The program keeps track of retention rates, certification mandates, faculty tenure and promotion.

This data demonstrates “to stakeholders, especially parents and students, the benefits of attending an institution,” according to the President’s Report. Both Hahs and Azcoitia called the software a “necessary expense.” The software will be purchased using the University Operating funds.

The Board was also notified of two expenditures Hahs made. The Board of Trustees’ Regulations require the President to report purchases of at least $50,000 but less than $100,000 made since the previous meeting.

These purchases do not need Board approval. $59,000 was approved on security guard services for El Centro and $80,000 was spent on legal services related to the acquisition of the Bryn Mawr properties for the dorms.

Building Updates

The plans to add an addition to the Pedroso Center in Building B are underway and expected to be completed before the 2015 fall semester.

The library roof replacement and masonry repairs to the exterior walls that began the week of Aug. 11, 2014 are now complete.

The PE Complex also had extensive repair done to the roof and walls. Temporary roofing had to be installed during winter. A permanent roof and masonry repair are underway and expected to be completed in late summer.

Construction of the El Centro Annex Building is near completion and expected to be done sometime in April.

Miscellaneous

Aetna Student Health, the on-campus Student Health Insurance, has been reapproved. The incumbent health service provider was chosen over three other providers because it would be the least expensive for students. Aetna will remain with NEIU for one more year, with the option of five more potential years.

Rita Moreno, world-renowned entertainer has been chosen as this year’s commencement speaker for the graduating class of 2015. Moreno rose to prominence when she played Anita in the 1962 film adaption of West Side Story. She will receive an honorary doctorate at the graduation ceremony in May.

Sixteen assistant professors were approved for tenure in 12 different departments. Their approval was met with cheers from students in the audience.

The Board aims to utilize minority and female owned businesses each fiscal year and has this time exceeded its goal by almost $8.4 million, in large portion through El Centro.

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