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June 16, 2024

Tom Cullerton urges NIU to reject new Baker deal

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On December 6, 2017

Tom Cullerton urges NIU reject new Baker deal


VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is urging Northern Illinois University to reject President Doug Baker’s Presidential Transition Agreement.

A judge ruled last month that the university violated the Open Meetings Act when it approved Baker’s deal this summer soon after he announced his resignation. Trustees will be meeting on Thursday to take a new vote on a comparable contract for Baker. 

“Failed administrators should not receive another single taxpayer dollar,” Cullerton said. “This is a no-brainer. I hope the board agrees.”

Cullerton was outraged that NIU had agreed to pay Baker $600,000 plus benefits when he announced his plans to step down this summer in the wake of the Illinois Inspector General’s investigation into illegal hires made by the university.

“Our higher education institutions need to stop throwing taxpayer dollars at university administrators who mismanage public funds and fail to comply with state laws,” Cullerton said. “Common sense dictates if someone is under investigation for violations made on their watch, we shouldn’t be looking for ways to reward them with states funds.”

The Inspector General’s report was publicly released on May 31. The report details hires made by Baker and his administration that were paid contracts over $20,000, which are supposed to be subject to competitive bidding in accordance to state law. The jobs were incorrectly classified to get past the requirement according to the report.

The Chicago Tribune later reported that two of the nine employees involved in the hiring scandal made more than $400,000 for 15 and 18 months of work.

In October, a NIU official stated the institution was “tens of millions of dollars behind in building maintenance, needed technology updates, and went years without pay raises for faculty and staff.”

“Every dollar, every penny, needs to be put toward the betterment and education of our children,” Cullerton said. “Our state universities and community colleges need to shift their focus to making college more affordable. Plain and simple: state dollars should not be used to line the pockets of unsuccessful administrators.”

Cullerton is working on tougher regulations to stop state universities and community colleges from paying out administrators while under investigation or found guilty of university mismanagement.


Reena Tandon
Communications Department
Senate Democrats Caucus Staff
John J. Cullerton, Senate President
Stratton Building, F-Section
O. 217.782.3068
C. 309.533.1210


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  • John
    Posted at 11:54h, 06 December Reply

    As a citizen of Illinois I am sick of these so called over paid administrative theives.
    This guy ought to spend a few years in jail and lose his pension. Dereliction of duty
    including the board allowing this under their watch. Let’s see what the board does.

  • Mike
    Posted at 14:31h, 06 December Reply

    Part of the problem with the separation agreement is likely with the underlying contract.

    Taxpayers need more transparency and power in state and local public sector administrator contract, collective bargaining agreement, and contract employee negotiations, such as:

    – 1 year maximum contract term.

    – The proposed contract should be posted in an easy to find location on an an easy to find website.

    – The proposed contract should be searchable (allow use of Adobe find feature) and allow copy from the document and paste to another document for consolidation purposes.

    – The proposed contract should be in the form of a change document, indicating changes from the previous agreement (for example underline text for additions and stricken text for deletions).

    – The taxpayers should have a week to review the proposed contract prior to the board voting on the contract.

    – The proposed contract should be subject to a simple majority approval by taxpayers in a secret ballot election (the rank and file union members are allowed to vote on whether or not to ratify the proposed contract so the rank and file taxpayers should have the same power).

    – The approved contract and change document should be indefinitely archived in the same easy to find location on the easy to find website.

    It is far too easy to take advantage of taxpayers even with FOIA, due to the lack of transparency of employment contracts and separation agreements, and due to the lack of power held by taxpayers.

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