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Baker Report: Focused on our future

January 30, 2015
NIU Town Hall Meeting – Jan. 29, 2015

NIU Provost Lisa Freeman

On Thursday afternoon, I had the opportunity to address the campus community through two campus-wide town hall meetings regarding several key initiatives meant to provide NIU greater control over its own destiny.

In both meetings, Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman, Vice Provost Anne Birberick and I covered the following:

I invite you to view the town hall meetings online and send any questions you may have directly to me at [email protected]. There were many questions following the presentation, but not all were answered due to time constraints. Questions will be answered in the Q&A section of my website.

One question I received was about the future of the Division of International Affairs.

A week ago, I received Vice President Ray Alden’s resignation to assume the provost position at Touro University in Nevada. We thank Ray for his service in two vice presidential roles during his time at NIU. We will work with International Affairs staff and stakeholders to look at our goals and the right structure and leadership going forward. In the interim, the area will report to Provost Freeman following his departure March 31.

I am delighted to recognize two recent hires critical to the university’s sustainability:

  • Alan Phillips, succeeds interim CFO Nancy Suttenfield and will assume the role of vice president of Administration and Finance. Coming to NIU from the IBHE, Al is an accomplished higher education finance officer with a track record of effectively directing the academic and business operations for complex academic organizations during challenging fiscal times.
  • Catherine Squires joins NIU from Tufts University and will lead the Division of University Advancement, succeeding Mike Malone, who will be retiring after many years of service to NIU. In addition to being an alumna of the College of Visual & Performing Arts, she brings strong leadership, a strategic mindset and the entrepreneurial skill set to build upon the work that has been done and help us move forward as a university.

These hires are significant in that the first helps us manage our finances and the other helps raise funds to support our mission. Both are increasingly important in the budgetary environment in which we operate.

NIU Town Hall Meeting – Jan. 29, 2015

In making our enterprise more efficient, we have eliminated one vice president position and have reduced administrative salaries by $300,000 on an annualized basis since July 2013. We will continue working to reduce administrative overhead, and our program prioritization effort – which will look closely at both academic and administrative units – will help guide us in this effort and ultimately allow us to reinvest in ourselves and our programs.

Of course, the key for us as a university will be the participation of everyone in the strategic initiatives I’ve outlined in this report. We need input as to how to serve our students better, how to streamline operations to deliver services more efficiently, and we need the campus to get involved in the program prioritization process.

I’m looking forward to working with the campus community as we continue to move forward.

Go Huskies!