Students unaware of major university changes

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

The audience of the Forward 150 Program Prioritization meeting was slim as Shelley Bannister, Dr. Wamucii Njogu, Maria Genao-Homs, and Henry Owen III discussed changes that would affect the NEIU community on Feb. 15. Student attendance was minimal, at best.

The discussion kicked off with Special Assistant to the University President Shelley Bannister reminding the audience of their goal, “creating a sustainable university with reduced state support.” The agenda covered the timeline of forwarding 150 for this semester, an introduction to Qualtrics and Task Force reports.

“This is the time to be heard…this is our opportunity,” Acting Provost Wamucii Njogu said when introducing the timeline. In the upcoming weeks, Forward 150 members will upload their program reports, the Task Forces will review completed reports and “categorize programs and formulate their recommendations.”

Forward 150 started in 2017 as a result of Illinois’ budget crisis with support from the University’s shared governance bodies: Faculty Senate, SGA, UAC, and UPBC.

Interim President Helldobler proposed Forward 150 as an effort to “prepare for a future of declining state support and chart our course for the next 150 years.”

The two main focuses of forwarding 150 are the budgeting process and prioritizing programs.

There are five different groups that make up the Program Prioritization Task Force: Academic Programs, Student Life Resources, Other Administrative Offices, Data, and Communications.

The Academic Programs Task Force has 30 members and their goal is to find new ways to organize the academic courses that NEIU offers by analyzing which programs can and should grow, which programs should be left as is and programs that could be combined with others or phased out.

The Student Life Resources Task Force has 21 members and their mission is to take a hard look at all of the services and programs NEIU provides for students. They also give the Steering Committee their recommendations on “how to effectively strengthen and streamline student services.”

The Other Administrative Offices Task Force has 15 members and their goal is to find all of the different improvements that could be made to the administrative offices to make students, faculty, and staff have a more efficient experience.

The Academic Programs, Student Life Resources and Other Administrative Offices Task Forces aim to “identify programs that should grow, programs that should be maintained, and programs that could be consolidated, contracted or phased out.”

The Data Task Force consists of 11 members made up of university staff “who are familiar with and often responsible for the data collection… This task force provides data and necessary information to the Academic Programs, Student Life/Resources, and Other Administrative Offices Task Forces.”

The final group, the Communications Task Force has five members and it “exists to communicate with the University community about all aspects of the Forward 150 Prioritization Process.”

Four NEIU Targeted Announcements have been sent out to the NEIU community this month about forwarding 150: addressing concerns of stopping or pausing Forward 150, postponing the Feb. 8th meeting, the updated timeline, and the remainder of the March 5 deadline to upload reports to the Task Force. Despite the four emails, some students were still not aware of the meetings.

Student Cesar Ruiz said, “I don’t know about forwarding 150. Now that I know, I would attend them.”

Student Gigi Tanaitis said, “No, I don’t go to forwarding 150 meetings. I might go if it doesn’t conflict with school or work.”

Students Sargon Yousif and Daniel Duque said they also didn’t know about forwarding 150 bi-weekly meetings and if they weren’t working during that time, they would definitely attend the meetings.

After the Task Force receives the reports, they then report to the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee has 17 members with members from Faculty Senate, University Planning and Budget Committee, University Advisory Committee, Student Government Association, Civil Service Council and the Administrative and Professional Council.

At the end of April, the Steering Committee will publish the first draft of their recommendations and take comments and responses from the NEIU community. All recommendations from forwarding 150 are due to Helldobler on April 27.

“We are the university. We should be able to help provide some form of direction to the administration,” Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Mike Dizon said in an email from Feb. 6, “Changes will be made, regardless of whether we are continuing, slowing, pausing, or stopping.”

For more information check out on forwarding 150 prioritization check out: