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Prioritization at NIU

At NIU, there has not been a claim of financial exigency, although statements from President Baker have indicated that in the event of a financial crisis (perhaps as a result of state cuts), he could cut positions. According to the website (http://www.niu.edu/program-prioritization/), the goal is the strategic redeployment of resources for the revitalization of the university. The information on the website also includes the following assurances:

“While program prioritization is a concept embraced by universities across North America and beyond, the details of its implementation necessarily vary from institution to institution.  At NIU, the prioritization process will be:

·         Inclusive of all campus stakeholders

·         Open and transparent

·         Facilitated by a coordinating team with diverse expertise

·         Guided by evaluation criteria developed by the entire campus community

·         Informed by data analyzed by and narratives created by program leaders

·         Inclusive of perspectives of faculty, staff, students and alumni

·         Conducted by two task forces whose members are nominated by their peers

The process itself will be thorough, comprehensive and data-driven. Much of the work of the task forces, as well as the data developed for the task forces to review and deliberate over, will be made available on this website, along with additional resources to help the campus community understand the process, the rationale behind the process and the intended outcomes.”


It is clear that the authority to implement program prioritization currently rests with administration. In April 2014 President Baker signed a “Guided Principles for Annual Budget Development and Multi-Year Financial Planning” document with the Board of Trustees that gives him the prime authority to make these decisions. Faculty have a consultative role only. In both this document and as clarified at the Faculty Senate meeting of April 29, 2015, it was made clear that President Baker “is empowered” to make the final decisions on resource allocation.

Faculty at NIU are concerned about faculty representation in program prioritization. There was a vigorous discussion and clear vote by faculty for better representation in this process at the Faculty Senate meeting on March 25, 2015. That recommendation has not been honored by administration.

Further, NIU’s process has a separate administrative and academic prioritization track. NIU faculty are concerned about administration to faculty ratios. In 2012, an NIU Presidential Commission found that administrative to faculty ratio was nearly 1:1. At an April 2015 Faculty Senate meeting, Provost Freeman pledged that that there “is no hidden agenda to decrease the number of faculty.”  At that meeting it was again made clear that resource allocation is in the power of the administration. Faculty have legitimate concerns that these separate tracks may result in further erosion of allocation of resources to faculty relative to administration.