Two members of the university leadership team have announced their departures.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Alan Phillips will retire March 1, 2017, from a 40-year career serving in senior government and higher education leadership and management positions to spend time with his family, including a new grandchild. Vice President of Student Affairs Eric Weldy has accepted a position as vice chancellor for student affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis effective January 1, 2017.
“In my time at NIU I have greatly enjoyed working with the excellent faculty, staff, administrators and students as we worked to put NIU and our students on the path to success,” said Phillips. “But it is time to step aside and turn things over to others who continue to carry the mission of the university forward.”
Phillips arrived at NIU in March of 2015 and immediately set to work helping the university navigate through a difficult financial environment.
As part of those efforts, he and his finance and budget team implemented an ongoing overhaul of the NIU budgeting process, with the ultimate goal of shifting the university to a multi-year budget planning process. Perhaps most significantly, he and his staff worked hard to implement a more comprehensive budget oversight and management process. Thanks to those efforts, the university was able to weather a more than 70 percent reduction in state funding in 2016 with limited impact to NIU daily operations.
During his tenure, Phillips also implemented a number of process reengineering efforts, including those aimed at improving and streamlining the procurement and contracting processes, revamping institutional and financial aid and improving web site management and support.
To guide longer-term spending, Phillips and his team also developed a capital development and prioritization plan, implemented enterprise risk management techniques that will help the university better anticipate and prepare for potential emergencies and worked to develop a long-term housing master plan.
“Al’s expertise and strategic work has had an extraordinary impact on the university,” said NIU President Doug Baker. “He and his team have put in place policies and procedures for cost controls and long-term budgeting that will serve us very well going forward. Al will be missed, and we wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.”
As he leaves, Phillips says he takes pride not only in the accomplishments that took place on his watch, but also in the hard work and dedication of the Administration and Finance team that actually performed all of the hard work. “I’ve never worked with a more professional and dedicated group of people, who do everything possible every day to ensure the future success of the institution, and I will miss them all”.
A transition plan for leadership of the department will be finalized before Phillips’ departure.
For Eric Weldy, the university has always come first.
When he joined Student Affairs and Enrollment Management in July of 2013, he took over one of the largest divisions on campus, which included functions as diverse as dining halls, career counseling and new student recruitment. Since then he has carefully analyzed each of its pieces, refined them and, as needed, realigned them with other divisions across the university.
For example, under Weldy, orientation was expanded into a two-day process that helped students connect with the university more quickly and boosted student commitments. He also oversaw an overhaul of admissions that (among other things) reduced application processing time from weeks to days.
Yet, when it became clear that both of those functions could benefit from increased marketing and branding, he was excited to see both shifted into what is now known as Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications. “It puts our recruiters in the best position to successfully recruit students, and that’s what is important.”
That same university-first attitude governed decisions such as moving Career Services and the university’s cultural centers under Academic Affairs. In each instance, Weldy said, the primary motivation for change was to better serve students.
Among his many accomplishments, Weldy is most proud of the significant improvement in the university’s retention rate.
“In a little over three years, the retention rate among freshmen and sophomores climbed from 66 percent to 73 percent. That is a huge jump by industry standards,” he said, attributing the improvement to collaborative efforts between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. “That type of collaboration has been a hallmark of my time at NIU. Everyone understands that they truly contribute to student success,” he said.
Like Phillips, Weldy says the thing he will miss most is the people he has worked with at NIU, particularly his staff. “They are one of the most dedicated, resilient and hard-working groups of professionals that I have ever had the privilege to work with. I appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given here, and I will always be an advocate for NIU.”
Weldy will be missed, said Baker.
“One of the risks you take when you hire excellent people is that they are always in demand elsewhere,” said Baker. “For the last three-and-a-half years, Eric has worked selflessly to restructure the functions of his office for the greater good of the university. His efforts have positioned us to succeed and we will miss his leadership.”
Decisions regarding future leadership of the division are under discussion and will be announced after the first of the year.