Northern Illinois University (ECWd) –
President Baker announced he is stepping down as President of Northern Illinois University effective June 30, 2017.
The Daily Chronicle and Northern Public Radio have both reported that Pres. Baker read a prepared statement during this morning’s Board of Trustees meeting in which he confirmed his decision to step down as NIU president. He also sent an email to university staff during the meeting informing them of his decision.
He referenced the OEIG report (where the OEIG stated he mismanaged NIU) and said that news media’s reporting focusing on the language in the report was distracting to the university and he decided to step down so the NIU could move forward with its mission.
The public statement provided by NIU is below:
|June 15, 2017|
|Dr. Baker shared the following statement during this morning’s Board of Trustee’s meeting.
I often use the word “amazing” to talk about Northern Illinois University, and I truly believe that this word can’t be overused when it comes to the accomplishments of our faculty and staff and the great experience they provide for our students. There are literally thousands of students from diverse communities who over the years gained access to a high quality higher education because of NIU. I am proud to be part of this tradition, and prouder still of the things we have done together to provide increased access to the great resources embodied by this university.
My focus has been on recruitment, retention, sharpening our emphasis on student career success, implementing strategies related to aligning mission and budget through Program Prioritization, building a strong leadership team and improved management systems, advocating for a state budget, and navigating this university forward in the absence of state appropriations. There have been significant accomplishments and successes and they must be built upon.
Parallel to this work, we have known since mid-2014 about a confidential Office of the Executive Inspector General (OEIG) investigation regarding the use of the affiliate employee category in 2013 and 2014. The confidential report was made known to us last August, and both myself and the board made clear our objections to the assumptions made — most notably the implication that I in any way had intended to circumvent any NIU guidelines or state regulations.
The Executive Ethics Commission finally made the report public several weeks ago and unfortunately, both the board’s and my perspective were drowned out in media reports that focused on the language of the report. The result has been that the university community has continued to be distracted by the allegations in the report. Given the challenges we face and the hard work ahead, I simply couldn’t stand by and let this situation continue to fester.
Because of this and my profound respect for NIU – our faculty, staff and students, I decided to approach Board Chair John Butler to discuss the future with the best interest of NIU in mind.
While my end-of-term evaluation process was proceeding in a positive manner, we agreed that the reaction to the OEIG report was a significant distraction. He made it clear to me that the board intended to continue the orderly and thorough review to assess my performance as part of the process.
That said, after discussions between myself and Chair Butler, we concurred that it was best to move forward with a presidential transition agreement, under which I intend to leave the university on June 30, 2017. The Board will now take up the matter.
I have many feelings today, but the one I want you to know is my abiding respect for this university – its commitment to research, scholarship, artistry and engagement, how much it values diversity and inclusion, and how welcoming it is to students of all backgrounds. NIU is an exceptional university.
Ultimately, my wife Dana and I are grateful for our time and experiences here. I regret that we have reached this point, as this is a job I love in a place I have come to call home. But I truly do believe that at this point, this course of action is best for the University.
My thanks to our wonderful leadership team, our strong cadre of Deans, the faculty and staff, our inspiring and talented students, donors, alumni and my office staff for their support in these challenging times.
I wish for nothing but the best for NIU going forward. I do hope that this agreement helps put these issues behind the university so you can look to the future with hope and confidence — because I truly believe that both are justified.
I know we have a full agenda of university business, so with those comments I will turn the microphone back to Chairman Butler so we can move through the agenda.
The Board will consider a transition agreement later today and will update the university after closed session. We will provide another Campus Update at that time.