Future Course of Action for NEIU


Alejandra Franco

Trustees Jin Lee, Sharon K. Hahs, and Carlos Azcoitia (from left to right) amid the public comment portion of their meeting, receiving both supportive and negative feedback.

Being on the verge of a new fiscal year, the Board of Trustees (BoT) June meeting homed a discussion around a reduced budget brought on by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget cuts.

Although there is no set number in terms of percentage in cuts to state funding NEIU’s financial administration has prepared for a worst-case scenario.

Despite cuts being a certainty, nine professors were tenured and given a lapel pin with the NEIU seal as a symbol of their tenure.

“Indeed these are challenging times for public higher education in Illinois and for Northeastern Illinois University,” said Carlos Azcoitia, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “The Board of Trustees has full confidence in division and leadership of President Hahs along with our leaders of team,” said Azcoitia.

Plans to improve the prep room for biology in Bernard Brommel Hall have been made as the BoT allocates the last of the remaining grant funds of this time for “renovating science laborato-ries” to do so.

The board also approved the replacement of software application system that allows for com-puter networks, NEIUport portal, and email, among other technology related applications.

Jin Lee, Vice Chair of the BoT, expressed concern for the longevity and usefulness of replacing the software and technology through long-term contracts. “(This project) has the potential to save the university $400,000 over the course of this equipment because it is more efficient, it does more things, and it costs less money,” said Hahs. “The equipment and software has a life expec-tancy of up to 10 years.”
It has been three months since the seat for Vice President of Student Affairs has been vacant. Lee inquired and suggested an internal search be fit to fill the role of Vice President of Student Affairs. Instead, the BoT decided on planning a national search to fill the position in order to pre-serve diversity among the administration.

Public Comment

The BoT received an array of criticism and encouragement from the faculty who spoke from their experience of working at NEIU.

“During my ten years at NEIU, I’ve heard two common themes: we need better communication from our administration and we need increased shared governance,” said Dr. Susan Benson, Associate Professor in Educational Leadership and Development. “What is important to remem-ber is this is the doing of the governor and not our administration.”

Dr. Brett Stockdill criticized the Administration for the frequent promotions over the past few years. “During times when we’ve had budget cuts, every single year for the past four years you have continued to authorize lavish administrator promotions and salary increases even as you move to destroy local businesses and evict our neighbors from their homes,” said Stockdill.

Staff and faculty are given annual salary increases, and additionally, staff receives increases in salary if their original duties have changed either by promotion or taking on the responsibilities of an eliminated position.

Vicky Roman-Lagunas, Vice Provost, encouraged the work of the administration at NEIU. “The need for civility in our relationships is not necessarily a priority for everyone-nor is it practiced,” said Roman-Lagunas. “I respectfully urge you to not be distracted by votes of non-confidence, by unprofessional evaluations of senior leadership, nor by our culture of conflict.”

Dr. Olivia Perlow was among the nine professors who were tenured at the Board of Trustees meeting. “I am distressed by the level of disregard of faculty, student, staff, and community con-cerns on the part of the Administration and the Board of Trustees.” Perlow voiced the loss of seven African American faculty members. “NEIU has become a hostile work environment on the part of an overwhelmingly white administration that ironically prides itself on diversity. Diver-sity must be more than a buzzword or a formality.”

Dr. Russell Benjamin spoke in regards of the university’s use of eminent domain and said, “On December 10 of 2013 this faculty senate voted to support idea of dormitories.” Benjamin added, “Hahs and Helldobler (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs) have made a mess of things at NEIU and alienated the community and they should be fired.”

The University Contract Administrator Elliott Lessen commented on the relationship amongst faculty and the Administration at NEIU. “There’s been much rhetoric around the concept of shared governance and yet when the decision is made that is not the desired faculty decision it is said that shared governance is being violated,” said Lessen who has worked with the university for nine years.

Nine professors were given tenure and awarded with a lapel pin with an NEIU seal on it, symbol-izing their tenure.

NEIU houses the first undergraduate chapter of National Society of Hispanics MBAs in the Unit-ed States.

El Centro’s enrollment rate went up from around 800 to over 1,200 from Fall to Spring semester.

The next BoT meeting is scheduled at the main campus in the Golden Eagle’s room on Thurs-day, Sep. 17.