University Council and Faculty Senate


October 2012, Volume 2, Issue 1

In this issue:
Presidential search committee
Desperately seeking Peters

Presidential search committee

As you have, by now, heard, President Peters announced his retirement during his State of the University address on October 11. His last day in office will be June 30, 2013. If we hope to have a new president assume the office on July 1, there is much to do in a very short time. The selection of the next president is the most important task facing the university at this time. The individual selected will determine, in large part, the direction of NIU for the next five to ten years or more. As we have seen in other institutions, a misstep here can have dire consequences for the university and its faculty. The faculty, therefore, are critically invested in this process. It could be the single most important thing we do this year.

The first step is the assembly of a search committee. The Board of Trustees has approved a search committee plan that includes representation of all relevant constituencies in the university with the largest single group being faculty. The search committee will include 12 tenured faculty members. These will consist of one representative from each degree-granting college (including Law), one from the University Libraries, and three "at large" members chosen by the Faculty Senate from a pool nominated by the various colleges. These at large members are apportioned based on the number of faculty members in each of the colleges. In her letter to the college deans, Chair Murer "asks that you work through your college council and have the council select the one tenured faculty member from your college who will serve." Further, the college councils are asked to develop a list of nominees from each college that will comprise the pool from which the Faculty Senate will select the three at large faculty representatives. The intent of this agreement is that the faculty representative should truly represent the faculty. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, by virtue of its size, will send the name of its one college representative plus four additional names; the College of Education will send the one plus an additional three; and all other colleges will send one plus an additional two names. At its October 31 meeting, the Faculty Senate will choose only the three at large members of the committee from the pool of additional names.

The search committee will be co-chaired by Robert Boey (Trustee) and Alan Rosenbaum (Executive Secretary of the University Council). Each college (through its college council) must take great care to select representatives who are: knowledgeable regarding issues facing higher education, as well as the culture and mission of NIU; in touch with, and accessible to, their fellow faculty members; and respected by their peers. Experience on university-wide committees, the Faculty Senate, and the University Council, though not essential, might be useful. We also want a diverse committee. You are selecting people who will speak for the whole faculty. This will be a time-consuming job that will take priority over almost all other university business and some meetings might take place on weekend days or evenings. Nominees must understand the magnitude of the commitment and be willing to serve on the committee. The committee will be approved and charged by the BOT at a special meeting to be held November 8 and will convene for the first time right after that meeting. Please review the college council roster and let your representatives know who you think should represent the faculty of your college.

The first job of the search committee will be writing the job description. What type of president do we want and what do we want the president's charge to be? What qualities, skills, and characteristics are we looking for? The job description must be given to the search firm that will be retained by the university in order to guide recruitment efforts. In order to assure that the wishes of the faculty are accurately represented, we are asking faculty members to provide guidance and suggestions through their faculty senators. Please review the Faculty Senate roster to learn who your department representative is. Alternatively, you may send suggestions directly to Alan Rosenbaum at

At its October 31 meeting, the Faculty Senate will pool the suggestions and develop a faculty position regarding what we are looking for in the next president.

The search process will be transparent with the exception of not disclosing the names of any candidates but the finalists. A Web site will be set up to keep the university and community informed of the progress of the search. While the search committee is charged with narrowing the field of candidates, the ultimate decision regarding the hiring of the president resides with the Board of Trustees.

A final note: The BOT Bylaws give full authority to the BOT to select the president. The fact that our current board is honoring the composition of the search committee as articulated in the NIU Constitution and Bylaws is a tribute to their respect for the culture of shared governance at NIU and we are appreciative of that.

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Desperately seeking Peters

In case you're wondering, the search that resulted in the hiring of John Peters was conducted during the 1999-2000 academic year. There were 22 members on that search committee which was co-chaired by Robert Boey and James Norris (then Executive Secretary of the University Council). It included three students (two undergraduate and one graduate), two members of the BOT (Boey and Sanchez), and 12 faculty members (including the Executive Secretary). Among the faculty were eight full professors and four associate professors. Three were also department chairs. There were representatives of SPS, Operating Staff, and the Alumni Association. Four finalists were brought to campus for the more extensive interview process.

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