University Council and Faculty Senate


September 2013, Volume 3, Issue 1

The mission of Faculty Matters is to keep the faculty informed
about policies, issues and events of interest to, and affecting, the faculty at NIU. It is written and published by the President of the Faculty Senate and distributed to all faculty. Comments and suggestions can be sent to Alan Rosenbaum, Executive Secretary
of the University Council and President of the Faculty Senate, at Beginning with the next issue, we will
consider publishing letters to the editor. Letter writers must identify themselves and will be identified if the letter is published.

In this issue:
No concealed carry on campus
Faculty Club
Open access publishing
A survey for you to monkey around with
Uncle Doug wants you!

No concealed carry on campus

On July 9, 2013, the Firearm Concealed Carry Act (430 ILCS 66) became law. This law permits the carrying of concealed weapons provided individuals meet certain requirements and have obtained a license to carry concealed. However, there are several exclusions (i.e., places where even those with a concealed carry license cannot carry concealed weapons) and college campuses are one of those. Under the new law, the Illinois State Police were given up to six months to implement a licensure program. Even when the licensure program takes effect, NIU and any property owned or controlled by NIU (including regional sites in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rockford, the Lorado Taft Field campus and places where NIU programs, activities and classes are held) will remain essentially weapons-free.

In response to this new law, the NIU Board of Trustees developed a Concealed Carry - University Policy which they approved on August 29, 2013. According to this policy, no employee, student or visitor will be allowed to possess a weapon on property owned, leased or controlled by NIU. The exceptions are:

- On-duty law enforcement officers;

- Special authorized security officers such as probation officers or armored car personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.

Simulated weapons such as starter pistols, fencing foils, and archery equipment may be permitted only if used in connection with sanctioned university classes, athletics, or events (e.g., theater productions). In addition, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps may use and store weapons or firearms as a part of their sanctioned classes or activities.

There are two provisions of which faculty should be aware. The new law permits the transport of a firearm within a vehicle, into a campus parking area that will be specifically designated for this purpose. The weapon and its ammunition must remain locked in a case out of plain view within the parked vehicle. This allowance extends only to persons licensed to carry firearms after the new licensure program is implemented. The weapon or firearm may only be removed for the limited purpose of storing the handgun within the trunk of the vehicle. The handgun must first be unloaded before removal from the vehicle. Second, several of the roads that run through campus (for example, Normal, Lucinda, Annie Glidden) and their sidewalks are not university property, hence duly licensed individuals cannot be prevented from carrying concealed weapons on those roads.

Any person arriving on the NIU campus in DeKalb with a licensed firearm, who cannot, or prefers not to, store their firearm in a vehicle must proceed immediately to the NIU Police Department dispatch facility to temporarily secure their firearm. Such individuals will be required to present a valid concealed carry license, valid Firearm Owner's Identification card, and a valid state-issued driver’s license or state ID card in order to check in, or subsequently reclaim, a firearm. Firearms will only be checked out to persons leaving the NIU campus, and such persons will be escorted off campus.

Violations of the BOT policy or state law may result in arrest and referral for criminal prosecution, as well as appropriate discipline up to and including expulsion from the university and/or termination from NIU employment.

Bottom line: With the exception of law enforcement officers, and special authorized security officers, engaged in the performance of their duties, no one can bring a weapon, concealed or not, into a classroom or any other campus facility. If you see a person you believe is in violation of this prohibition, do not confront the individual. Instead, faculty are advised to immediately contact the NIU Police Department at (815) 753-1212 or 911. As always, faculty are advised to read the actual policy rather than depend entirely on the information in Faculty Matters. For additional information about the Illinois concealed carry legislation in general, visit the Illinois State Police FAQ site.

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Faculty Club

No, it’s not a weapon or a sandwich, it’s an opportunity to meet faculty colleagues from across the university. We don’t have a building yet, but for starters, we will temporarily rename the Hunt Room at Ellington’s, The Faculty Club. As many of you know, Ellington’s is open for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays and serves a three-course, price-fixed lunch that includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert for $10. Non-alcoholic beverages are included. Wine is available at additional cost ($4.50-$6.50 depending on vintage).

The first Faculty Club lunch will be held Thursday, October 24. At the lunch, we will survey the attending faculty regarding their ideas and suggestions for continuing and/or improving the experience. The meal and its costs will be as described above. The menu for that day is La Via Italiana Italian. Please mark the date on your calendars and join your fellow faculty members for lunch.

Faculty Club reservations must be taken separately from the typical Ellington's reservations. Email your Faculty Club reservation by October 10 to Pat Erickson at

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Open access publishing: What is it and why should we care?

The NIU University Libraries spent $3,209,506 on serials this last fiscal year. Of the total acquisition budget, 82 percent is spent on journals, leaving little money for books and other materials. Since 2000, there has been more than a 60 percent increase in the cost of journals and books. Why so much? In part because giant publishers, such as Elsevier have bought up most of our professional journals and bundle them for sale to libraries. Bundling involves forcing universities to purchase journals they don’t want, in order to get those that they do. Elsevier (ScienceDirect) is one of the bundling giants. Here are some interesting examples of what we are paying for little-used journals to which we are compelled to subscribe as a result of bundling. Last year, Journal of Number Theory was downloaded once at a cost to our library of $2,197. Journal of Accounting Education was downloaded twice and viewed once at a cost of $632 or $210.66 per download/view. Journal of Molecular Structure had eight downloads and 23 views at a cost of $14,867 or $479 per view/download. You get the idea. To add insult to injury, faculty are not only producing the content of these journals, but also doing the reviewing and editing, usually without compensation (the academic equivalent of workers in Vietnam producing sneakers for N_ke for 20 cents/hour).  

Open access publishing is one potential solution to this escalating problem. Open access journals are online journals, many of which are hosted by universities. Most are peer reviewed by the same people (us) who are doing peer review for the print journals. They are free to all and are picked up by Google Scholar and most other search engines. As a result, they often have higher citation rates than print journals, and will ultimately have higher impact factors. As with print journals, quality and selectivity (acceptance rate) vary. One drawback is that publication costs (which can range from a few dollars to several thousand) are paid by the author(s). At NIU, University Libraries Dean Patrick Dawson has established a fund which will pay OA publication fees up to $2,000 annually per faculty member (contact the dean’s office for details).

Faculty senates at some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., including Harvard, Stanford, Cornell and California, have endorsed open access publishing. The U.S. Congress is currently considering the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). FASTR would require federal agencies whose extramural research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies ensuring open, public access to the research supported by its grants or conducted by its employees. Closer to home, the Illinois legislature recently passed the Biss Bill which requires that by January 1, 2014, each public university shall establish an Open Access to Research Articles Act (OARAA) Task Force. Each task force shall be appointed by the chairperson of the board of trustees for the public university, with the advice and consent of that board. The Faculty Senate representatives to the task force at NIU are Gleb Sirotkin, Department of Mathematical Sciences; Winifred Creamer, Department of Anthropology; and Rebecca Hunt, Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment.

It seems clear that open access publishing is in our not too distant future. Faculty in each department should begin to formulate policies regarding how publications in open access journals will be counted both in the tenure and promotion process, as well as in faculty merit evaluations. Departments should also consider how publishing expenses will be handled, as it is not clear whether the University Libraries will be able to support the volume of requests it might receive as open access publishing becomes more acceptable and popular. Finally, many universities are encouraging faculty to develop their own online, open access journals which are then hosted by the university. It is believed that this will add to the stature and visibility of the university (and can advertising revenue be far behind?). It will also add to the number of journals and hence impact the quality of publications in all but the most prestigious ones.  Open access is complicated and, as with any watershed development, has the potential for both positive and negative change. One thing seems certain and that is we ignore it at our own peril.

Huskie Commons

Did you know that NIU now has its own digital repository, named the Huskie Commons? From the Huskie Commons homepage: “The mission of the Northern Illinois University digital repository--hereafter Huskie Commons--is to collect, preserve, and share the intellectual output of the faculty, staff, and students in digital format. By centralizing the production of knowledge and scholarship into a one-stop 'digital showplace,' Huskie Commons stands poised to strengthen and extend NIU's teaching and learning environment more fully into a highly interdisciplinary digital realm. The Commons presents the best and brightest of NIU to the region, and even across the globe, helping the university become a true institution of 'First Choice' for faculty, students, and staff.”

Check it out. We are indebted to Dean Dawson and the University Libraries faculty and staff for developing and maintaining the Huskie Commons.

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A survey for you to monkey around with

The General Education Visioning Task Force (GEVTF) was assembled to help revitalize and re-frame the baccalaureate experience at NIU. Michael Kolb, Department of Anthropology, is the chair of the GEVTF. This revitalization is imperative to improving the success of our graduates and assuring the success and longevity of NIU in the 21st century.

The GEVTF is asking faculty to help by completing a brief, 15-minute survey, which asks about the undergraduate courses you teach, as well as other learning activities, and the degree to which they align with the recently approved Baccalaureate Goals and Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) described below. The SLOs, developed by considering input from more than 1200 faculty, students, alumni, and employers, are:

SLO #1: Integrate knowledge of global interconnections and interdependencies.
SLO #2: Exhibit intercultural competencies with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
SLO #3: Analyze issues that interconnect human life and the natural world.
SLO #4: Demonstrate critical, creative, and independent thought.
SLO #5: Communicate clearly and effectively.
SLO #6: Collaborate with others to achieve specific goals.
SLO #7: Use and combine appropriate quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills to address questions and solve problems.
SLO #8: Synthesize knowledge and skills relevant to one’s major or particular fields of study and apply them creatively to develop innovative outcomes.

Background information on the Baccalaureate SLOs can be found at:

Although the survey does not specifically ask for identifying information, it might be possible to infer your identity from responses you provide. Keep in mind that the task force may share survey results with your department curriculum committee. For any release to the larger public, the task force will aggregate data, removing any potentially identifying information.

In upcoming months, this survey will be followed by focus groups and informational meetings. Consonant with the principles of shared governance, the task force will use the results of this survey, the student survey, and public forums to help develop and prepare a strategy for revitalizing NIU's general education program. Recommendations will be shared with the entire NIU community. More information about the GEVTF may be found at:

Complete the survey at:

The GEVTF thanks you in advance for your participation!

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Uncle Doug Wants You!

Since taking office, Doug Baker has been working to develop a strategy for NIU. To this end, he has been engaged in an intensive process of discovery which has involved assembling external task forces to provide insights on guiding expectations; retreats with the Board of Trustees, the President’s Cabinet, and the Provost’s Council; and a series of exploratory forums with faculty, students, and staff groups.

The next step in this exploration process will include a much broader set of perspectives from within and outside of NIU. He is asking faculty to participate in a four-hour workshop on one of 10 designated days in October. 

Each workshop will include 80 participants and be composed of individuals representing the broad range of NIU stakeholders.  Workshops will be conducted by Ron Walters, who has been facilitating our workshops the last few weeks, with the aid of trained facilitators chosen from the registered participants. Each workshop session will have a series of objectives, including:

a. Informing – providing information on NIU performance, and established priorities and goals.

b. Alignment – aligning participants from across the university with common purpose and aspirations.

c. Relationships – engage participants in working with others, and forming relationships across disciplines, job functions, and cultures.

d. Ideas and Innovation – generate new ideas, identify changes that can be achieved by participants, and engage in innovation.

Each workshop session will include a combination of presentations, group dynamics, and work in facilitated teams. President Baker will participate in each workshop to share his vision and illustrate his support for this transformational process. Each session will conclude with a report by each of the facilitated teams. This concluding session will be opened up to anyone who would like to attend, and celebrate the work of the participants.

The training session for facilitators will be held the weekend of October 5. Between then and November 1 there will be a total of 10 workshops, involving approximately 800 participants and 80 facilitators. 

Look for an email from the president in the next week or so announcing the workshops and providing sign-up information. This is your chance to be heard and to have a say in the changes that will be implemented at NIU in the not too distant future. We want to maintain a strong faculty voice in this process and that will require faculty to get involved.

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Important Links
University Council
Faculty Senate
2013-14 Meeting Schedule
Academic Policies & Procedures Manual
Statement of Professional Ethics for Faculty
State Pension & Budget Update
Vision 2020

University Council and
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