NIU has created a new, university-level office focused on ethics, compliance and policy development and management. The newly established Ethics and Compliance Office (ECO) reports directly to the President, and will include a variety of functions previously housed in other areas.
Establishment of the ECO is responsive to a specific FY18 priority of the NIU Board of Trustees. The board called for a university-level compliance program, supported by an ethics officer, a policy librarian, and a university level compliance coordinator, and said it should integrate roles and responsibilities related not only to ethics and compliance, but also to policy development and management. The policy library initiative was proposed and developed through shared governance, particularly the efforts of the University Council’s Rules, Governance and Elections Committee.
Sarah Garner, formerly director of Investigations in Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance, is now the Acting Director of ECO as well as Title IX coordinator. She will lead a unit that is responsible for the following functions:
- Investigations: Includes oversight of affirmative action and Title IX investigations, as well as management of strategies and processes relevant to complaints and administrative investigations. Due to Garner’s temporary appointment, the position of Director of Investigations is currently vacant and will remain so until a permanent Director of ECO is named.
- Policy Library: This new repository is designed to reduce confusion about NIU policies procedures by minimizing unnecessary redundancy, clarifying policy management responsibilities, and ensuring that policies are kept up to date. Rebecca Hunt, associate professor in the College of Education, becomes NIU’s first Policy Librarian on August 16.
- IT accessibility: NIU is required to comply with state and federal laws regarding electronic and information technology accessibility. The information technology accessibility officer works to ensure that all NIU courses and communications are accessible to persons with disabilities. Katharine Whitelaw, formerly in a similar role with Web and Internal Communications, is now part of ECO.
- Records Retention: Regardless of format, all NIU records must be managed according to the State Records Act. The new ECO will play important roles in developing university-wide policy, training university employees, and coordinating records retention schedules.
“This office will support NIU’s commitment to increasing transparent practices, and decreasing ambiguity associated with university policies and procedures,” said Acting President Lisa Freeman.
Formation of the ECO was enabled in part by the university’s decision not to refill the associate vice president position formerly held by Karen Baker. Ms. Baker’s retirement also provided an opportunity to modify the reporting structure of the University’s Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance programs. Details on those changes will be outlined in a future issue of NIU Today.