Letter to the Community from the NIU Board of Trustees

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Dear NIU Community,

Choosing NIU’s next president is a significant responsibility and great privilege for the NIU Board of Trustees. It is important to us that we create a thoughtful and inclusive search process, not only to attract outstanding candidates, but also to reflect our commitment to shared governance.

In August and September, we met with seven university stakeholder groups to gather feedback. Specifically, we met with the Operating Staff Council, the Supportive Professional Staff Council, the Faculty Senate, the Council of Deans, student leaders, the NIU Alumni Association Board and the NIU Foundation Board. The groups provided candid and invaluable feedback on the search process, the qualifications they hope to see in a new president and thoughts on when a search should begin.

Several themes emerged from these meetings. We heard resounding support for Acting President Lisa Freeman and a strong desire for an open and inclusive search process. Our community told us not to rush, saying that NIU needed some time to regain its balance after the recent state budget impasse and our leadership changes. At the same time, they did not want the university to delay on advancing important initiatives.

The entire board weighed the feedback carefully and determined that it is in the best interest of the university to commence a formal presidential search a year from now, in the fall of 2018. Doing so will allow operations to stabilize and provide us time to develop and implement a thoughtful process.

The first step will be the formation of a search preparation committee in the spring of 2018 to help shape the formal search process. The committee will be comprised of a cross section of representatives from shared governance and other members of the NIU community. The formal search will begin at the start of the 2018-2019 academic year and is expected to take approximately nine months. That effort will involve support from a reputable search firm, to be identified later.

Acting President Freeman and her leadership team have the full support of the Board of Trustees. We are working jointly to establish goals and priorities that will address key areas, such as academic and research excellence, financial sustainability and enrollment growth for the coming academic years. Dr. Freeman and her team will be unencumbered by the search and free to devote themselves to advancing the university while we select NIU’s next leader.

On behalf of the NIU Board of Trustees, we want to thank you for your commitment to NIU. We look forward to updating you about this topic in the months to come.

Sincerely,

Wheeler Coleman
Chair, Board of Trustees

Dennis Barsema
Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees