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Baker Report: NIU’s fiscal sustainability begins with transparency, priority-aligned spending

January 31, 2014
Douglas D. Baker

Douglas D. Baker

One of the three pillars upon which we are building the future success of Northern Illinois University is financial viability. A major component of that process is the creation of a new, more transparent budgeting process that allows us to align our spending with our top priorities.

I am pleased to report that this work is well under way.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Nancy Suttenfield, working closely with Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman, carefully crafted a set of guiding budget principles. Nancy presented them to the University Council this week. These principles will shape our financial planning and budgeting going forward.

Lisa and Nancy are also working closely with Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Eric Weldy to change the process used to set student fees. The goal is to make our process 1) more transparent; 2) more understandable to students; and 3) to incorporate more student input to ensure fees are directed to areas students consider high priorities.

Nancy is currently conducting an in-depth analysis of the university’s fiscal vulnerabilities and opportunities. The results of that study will be shared with the entire NIU community so that all of us better understand the “big picture” of university finances moving forward.

Establishing clear and transparent guiding budget principles, and creating a shared understanding of our fiscal reality and options available to us, will allow us to work together and focus on NIU’s highest priorities.

Our progress to date is measurable, and I am gratified by the support and enthusiasm for change so many members of the NIU community share. I am committed to transparency — a transparency that empowers each of us to make a difference — and look forward to an ongoing dialogue about our finances in the coming months.

Together forward,