NIU’s plan to implement a second-year residency requirement for incoming students is a game changer for DeKalb. As many as 800 students (by some estimates) could be removed from the private sector rental market. Increased vacancies at that rate could turn DeKalb’s rental housing upside down and that would send investment mortgage lenders into a noose-tightening frenzy.
It could also result in another aww shucks moment for the City of DeKalb’s revenue/expense projections for its re-proposed rental licensing, inspection, nuisance, etc., program. It certainly warrants reconsideration or refactoring of any rental housing program or investment.
The change in residency requirements wouldn’t be implemented until fall 2015. NIU’s game plan changed to increase student-retention rates, improve student safety and boost academic standings. Those goals are core elements to the NIU Vision 2020 Initiative.
In his opening remarks at the first Vision 2020 Steering Committee meeting, NIU President John Peters stated, “We must take the initiative to determine our own future. Otherwise events will undoubtedly determine our future for us and NIU will still exist, but as a much downsized and changed institution.”
It’s all about enrollment. As goes NIU so goes DeKalb. Those enrollment trends are unsettling. According to published reports NIU’s sophomore retention rate was 71 percent this year. In 2009, more sophomores in good academic standing (349) left the university than freshmen (264).
Safety, or at least the public perception of the lack of it, is a concern that does not help NIU’s retention rate. Neither does the evolution to digital diplomas.
There are also some relatively new players – namely, online universities and for-profit institutions. Make no mistake, they are real competitors. For example, the University of Phoenix today boasts an enrollment of nearly a half million students. It is a publicly traded company that has become so profitable that it now owns the naming rights to an NFL stadium. — President John G. Peters
The game plan changed for NIU and so goes DeKalb. Vision 2020 calls for ambitious enrollment growth amid a background of financial uncertainty for traditional universities. For the plan to work and for Northern to reach new horizons as the most student-centered public research university in the Midwest while competing with the convenience of attending class without leaving home then the educational experience of attending NIU must be exceptional. In base economics those students who stay at NIU through attainment of their educational goals spend more for longer than those passing through.
NIU Vision 2020 Initiative:
Organizational or policy changes required
The F&E Working Group recommends that the university consider adopting new guidelines to manage facilities capital investments including:
- That a guideline of No Net New Space be adopted. As new construction is being planned, a process should be followed that determines which of the current buildings should be razed as a result of the new construction. Finance and Facilities should be charged with defining which buildings should be considered historic/legacy buildings and which are utilitarian/replaceable buildings. Such a policy will not only assist with deferred maintenance, but will also improve accessibility, sustainability, and will enhance overall campus beautification if planned correctly [...]
NIU has made a significant financial commitment to residential students by providing new and refurbished residence halls and facilities. The second-year residency requirement for incoming students will put the heads in those beds needed for any lease-sale back arrangement or bond indebtedness but that brings significant change to private sector markets and local public sector finance — especially that of the public education for K-12 schools. No Net New Space may be inadvertently implemented through large scale foreclosures in existing student housing. Such a development could send already down-trending EAV into a tailspin.
Another goal for Vision 2020 (or more residential?):
by 2020: Percentage of the student body participating in fraternities and sororities will be up to 11%, which will mean more than 2,800 students in fraternities and sororities, hence doubling the overall membership.
Justification for the goal
Nationally, undergraduate fraternity and sorority members have higher graduation rates when compared to their non-member counterparts. Further, fraternity and sorority alumni/ae donate to their home institutions at higher rates and in higher amounts than their non-member alumni counterparts. Forty-three percent of fraternity and sorority alumni/ae gave to NIU. The average lifetime giving of fraternity and sorority alumni/ae was $1,303. This is in comparison to the nonmember alumni/ae, of whom only 28% gave back to the institution and the average lifetime giving was $607. (Note: These figures exclude the substantial Barsema and Yordon gifts from the calculations as they skew the average gift numbers; however, both are fraternity members.)
Fraternity and sorority students have a pattern of being involved in all areas of campus. The past eight consecutive student body presidents have been members of a fraternity or sorority. Fraternity and sorority students provide the foundation to the institution’s volunteer and service record for students. Focusing on this population will have a positive impact for all students when considering engagement and involvement outside of the classroom.
Meanwhile, back at the crossroads, the communiversity of DeKalb needs to explore the relationships and partnerships with NIU needed to make the educational experience of attending NIU in DeKalb exceptional. NIU should perhaps keep to its No Net New Space policy on any further in house non-property-tax-paying residential development.