Regulations Introduction

Article I. Introduction

Section 1. General Statement

The Board of Trustees is appointed by the Governor of the State of Illinois by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Board is directly responsible to the Governor and to the General Assembly for the operation, management, control and maintenance of Northern Illinois University. The laws of the State of Illinois assign to the Board the authority to discharge these responsibilities.

Northern Illinois University exists to preserve, augment, criticize and transmit knowledge and to foster creative capabilities through instruction, public service, research, scholarship and other creative activity. The mission of the university is to learn, teach, criticize and enlarge what is known; to foster rational and imaginative capabilities in the search for understanding; to bring enlightened and skilled intelligence to bear upon actual and theoretical issues; and to achieve an increasing level of excellence in all aspects of its work. Northern Illinois University operates in accordance with the law and the policies established by the Board of Trustees. Its purposes are achieved by a community of scholars free to exercise independent judgment in the planning and execution of their educational responsibilities in an environment designed to encourage maximum effectiveness within a framework of university government.

Section 2. Mission of the Board of Trustees

The mission of the Board of Trustees is to exercise its governing and delegative authority so as to support the university's mission and enhance its contribution to the state and the nation. The Board fulfills its mission by:

  • developing and implementing appropriate governing policies;
  • carrying out public policy and assuring prudent stewardship of university resources, and;
  • representing the university to the State of Illinois, the public and other external entities.

The Board of Trustees governs Northern Illinois University in accord with the United States Constitution, the Illinois Constitution, applicable federal and state statutes and regulations and the following principles:

Free Inquiry and Campus Civility

The Board seeks to protect an environment in which faculty and students may openly express diverse points of view. Free inquiry and discussion, safeguarded by academic due process and tenure, are essential to the academic community. At the same time, the Board expects the university to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance and civility regarding individual characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, disability, status as a disabled or Vietnam-era veteran, political views or affiliation, or sexual orientation.

Dual Responsibility

The Board seeks to serve as both an advocate for higher education and a responsible steward for public funds and to balance these purposes.

Access and Quality

The Board seeks to maintain access to higher education for Illinois citizens, as well as others, and to ensure the quality of services provided students and other university constituents.


The Board seeks to ensure that Northern Illinois University is accountable to the citizens of Illinois.

As a result of its statutory charge, the Board is the final institutional authority and, therefore, the Board Bylaws and Regulations have legal precedence over and shall control in the event of inconsistencies with the policies and regulations of the university and the university Constitution. However, the Board's focus is generally one of oversight, policy determination and strategic planning. The Board delegates the conduct of administration and management to the president. It entrusts the conduct of teaching and research through the president to the university faculty. It encourages significant student and staff participation in decision-making processes which directly affect these groups when such participation can be effective.

Section 3. Adoption of Board of Regents Actions

Any action of the Board of Regents prior to January 1, 1996, shall remain effective to the same extent as if that action had been taken by the Board of Trustees and shall be deemed to be action taken by the Board of Trustees unless amended or revised.

Section 4. Adoption of the University Constitution

Prior to January 1, 1996, the principles and practices of internal governance at Northern Illinois University were delineated in the university Constitution. The Board of Trustees affirms those principles and practices and any amendments thereto consistent with federal and state law, the Board Bylaws, and the Regulations which follow.

Article II. Organization and Operation of the Board of Trustees

In accordance with the Northern Illinois University Law (110 ILCS 685/30-1 et seq.) and related legislation, the Board of Trustees shall provide for the governance and operation of the university and for the conduct and operation of the Board itself. The Board will conduct its affairs in accordance with Bylaws which it adopts. These Bylaws shall be adopted and amended as prescribed in Article IX of the Bylaws and Article IV, Section 6, of the Regulations.

Article III. The Board of Trustees and Northern Illinois University

Section 1. General Executive Governance

The president is the chief executive officer for the Board of Trustees in fulfillment of its governance and policy responsibilities for Northern Illinois University. The president shall be appointed by the Board and shall be directly responsible to the Board. The president has overall responsibility for the provision of staff services to members of the Board of Trustees. The president shall implement information systems and reporting requirements as are necessary for or requested by the Board to fulfill its responsibilities.

Section 2. General Administration

The president is also the chief executive officer of the university. The president shall have the authority and responsibility, within the framework of policies established by the Board, for the organization, management, direction and supervision of the university and shall be held accountable by the Board for the effective administration and management of the institution. The president shall advise the Board of significant campus interests, concerns and needs. The president shall seek the involvement of faculty, students, administrative officers, professional staff and Civil Service employee roles appropriate to the issue.

Section 3. Statutory Context

A. Board of Trustees and the University President

The president's responsibilities and duties are derived from powers granted by statute to the Board of Trustees (P.A. 89-4). The Board relies on the president to develop institutional policies, implement procedures and engage the university community in activities which will allow the Trustees to fulfill their statutory obligations. The Board is specifically empowered to:

  • make rules and policies for the "management, operation, control and maintenance of the university" and its employees, students and property;
  • examine the "conditions, management and administration" of the university;
  • formulate bylaws, rules and procedures for the university's operations;
  • establish academic programs and make other academic decisions ("prescribe the courses of study");
  • confer degrees;
  • spend monies appropriated by the State and seek such funding through budget requests;
  • administer personnel, including "hiring and firing" personnel and setting their salaries and prescribing their duties;
  • set tuition and fee charges;
  • receive and administer trusts, property and gifts contributed to the university;
  • acquire property;
  • enter into contracts with private firms, the federal government and municipalities (for fire protection).

Additional presidential responsibilities are derived from the establishment of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) as a statewide coordinating body with decision making and administrative duties which require action at the institutional level. It is the president's responsibility to oversee and when appropriate to present to the Board of Trustees university responses to the IBHE's statutorily mandated responsibilities for:

  • formulating master plans for higher education;
  • receiving and reviewing budget proposals (operating and capital) from the governing boards;
  • reviewing all existing academic programs;
  • approving the creation of new units of instruction which are requested by governing boards;
  • developing a statewide information network and system;
  • encouraging the coordination of research and service activities;
  • establishing minimum admission standards to be applied by the universities;
  • approving plans for noninstructional capital facilities.

B. University President and the Government

The president is also responsible for the university's relationships with other state agencies established under statutory authority, including other institutions of higher education, the Attorney General's Office, the Auditor General's Office, the State Universities Retirement System, the Department of Labor, the Merit Board, the Illinois State Labor Relations Board and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. Furthermore, the president is responsible for inquiries from and relations involving the State Legislature and its standing and ad hoc committees and commissions.

A large portion of presidential responsibility thus derives from the statutory framework which constitutes Illinois higher education. The authority to fulfill those responsibilities is delegated to the president by the Board of Trustees, and the president is accountable to the Board for appropriate and effective institutional responses to these mandates and for providing an appropriate organizational structure and an appropriate delegation of responsibility for fulfilling the academic mission of the university and the administrative, financial and operational responsibilities conferred upon the institution by statute.

C. Board of Trustees Selection and Appointment of University President

The Board shall have the responsibility for establishing and coordinating the search for the selection of a new president. Such searches shall be executed with due respect for the constituted university policies regarding presidential searches; for the best interests of the Board and the University with appropriate consultation, the Board may make adjustments to the search process. The Board shall carry out a periodic evaluation of presidential performance.

Section 4. Categories of Staff

The principles of equal employment opportunity are a part of the general policy of the Board of Trustees, and the basic criteria for employment and promotion of all staff shall be appropriate qualifications for and performance of specified duties. Under general statutory authority of the Board of Trustees, the staff (hereafter also referred to as "university staff," "institutional faculty," or "employees" consistent with the context of the usage) are employed in the following categories.

A. Faculty and Administrative Employees

The instructional faculty consists of professors, associate professors, assistant professors and all personnel on temporary contracts whose responsibilities are primarily instructional in nature. Administrative employees include all administrative and professional personnel exempted from the State Universities Civil Service System.

B. Civil Service Employees

Civil Service employees are all university personnel whose employment matters fall within the jurisdiction of the State Universities Civil Service System as prescribed by statute.

C. Other Employees

When employed, students shall be employed in accordance with Board policies and institutional regulations.

Section 5. Faculty Appointments

A. Tenure

Tenure is an important means of protecting the rights of members of the faculty to freedom of inquiry, research, discourse, teaching, learning and publication.

Tenure entails the faculty member's commitment obligation to strive continuously to improve competence and to cooperate with colleagues in an effort to improve the quality of scholarship and teaching at the institution. The freedom and security provided through academic tenure are fundamental to the success of the university in fulfilling its obligations to faculty members, students and society.

B. General Provisions

The precise terms and conditions of every appointment shall be stated in writing and shall include a stipulation of whatever final approval is required for the appointment to become effective. The continuation of all appointments shall be contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds and any and all stipulations incorporated into the employment agreement.

There shall be three types of full-time appointments for faculty holding academic rank:

  • 1. Tenure appointments shall be for an indefinite term and may be terminated only by (1) retirement, (2) acceptance of resignation, (3) demonstrable financial exigencies, (4) discharge for cause or (5) the reduction or elimination of a department or similar academic unit.
  • 2. Nontenure appointments shall be for a specified term, renewable for a total of:
  • a. not more than seven years if the faculty member has served a probationary period of three years or less as a full-time member of the faculty of one or more institutions of higher education as an instructor or at a higher rank;
  • b. not more than four years if the faculty member has served a probationary period of more than three years as a full-time member of the faculty of one or more institutions of higher education as an instructor or at a higher rank, unless both the faculty member and the institution agree at the time of initial appointment on a period of greater length, which shall not in any case exceed seven years.
  • 3. Temporary appointments shall be for a specific purpose and for a term appropriate to that purpose.

C. Regulations and Policies on Conditions of Employment

The university Constitution and the Board Regulations may establish further policies and procedures consistent with high standards widely recognized in the profession, relating to such matters as tenure, nonreappointment and dismissal for cause.

Section 6. Academic Freedom

Northern Illinois University exists for the common good. The common good depends upon the free search for knowledge and its free exposition. Accordingly, the Board recognizes a responsibility to establish and maintain policies which encourage freedom of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research and publication, as well as a responsibility to protect members of the faculty and student body against forces within and without the university that threaten academic freedom.

For members of the faculty and student body, academic freedom entails the acceptance of important responsibilities. A member of the faculty or student body has the responsibility to be mindful of fairness and accuracy; to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge; and, in expressing opinions, to show due respect for the opinions of others.

Each member of the academic community enjoys all the rights, privileges and responsibilities guaranteed citizens by the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution. These freedoms shall not be abridged by the university or the Board. On the other hand, a member of the academic community, when expressing personal views in public, does not speak for the institution and should be careful to make that clear. The president may publicly disassociate the Board of Trustees and the university administration from such expressions when, in the opinion of the president, they do not fairly or adequately reflect the respect for accuracy and the opinion of others befitting a member of the academic community.

Section 7. Participation in University Governance

The university provides in its Constitution for an elected, representative university organization which serves as the primary university body for consultation at the institutional level regarding the establishment of the education and academic policies of the university. The University Council, as established in the university Constitution, is assigned this role; university faculty, administrative staff, professional staff, Civil Service employees, and students serve on this university body. In the event of serious disagreement between the president and a majority of the members comprising the elected university organization, that organization, following established Board procedures, shall have an opportunity, through a spokesman, to explain its views before the Board at the time the president brings the matter to the Board.

Within the context of the mission of the university, the Board recognizes that the faculty is the responsible body in the teaching, research and scholarly activities of the university and that the faculty's professional judgment is essential in the fundamental areas of admissions and academic standards, curriculum, subject matter, methods of instruction, instructional materials, methods of research, research conclusions, general requirements for degrees, and the academic calendar. Faculty recommendations will ordinarily be accepted by the administration and the president, and, on the recommendation of the president, by the Board.

The Board recognizes also that faculty advice shall be sought on policies regarding academic salaries and that faculty judgment must be utilized in all aspects of faculty employment (appointment, reappointment, nonreappointment, promotion, the offering of tenure, sabbatical leaves, leaves without pay, administrative suspensions and dismissal) and in those aspects of student life (including intercollegiate athletics) which relate to the educational process. In all such areas where faculty advice should be sought, budgets, staffing limitations, or the policies of other bodies having jurisdiction over institutional matters may impose limits on the utilization of faculty advice.

Section 8. University Advisory Committee

The Board expects the president to meet regularly with a University Advisory Committee comprised of the president of the faculty senate, the presidents of the Supportive Professional Staff and Operating Staff Councils, and three additional faculty selected to represent the faculty's multiple roles in the university, particularly those in teaching, research and service. These faculty will be nominated by the executive secretary of the University Council and confirmed by the University Council.

The president should keep the University Advisory Committee informed of and should seek and receive advice from it about matters coming before the Board. The University Advisory Committee may appoint one or two of its members to serve as liaisons to each of the working committees of the Board. An advisory committee liaison, or a spokesperson chosen by the University Advisory Committee because of expertise on a specific issue, will be recognized at a regularly scheduled point on the committee agenda.

Section 9. Students

Free inquiry and free expression are essential attributes of the community of scholars. As members of that community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus, and in the larger community. The responsibility to secure and respect conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community.

To these ends the university Constitution provides for student participation in university government, and, the university has established a student code enumerating rights and responsibilities and judicial machinery for implementing that code and for guaranteeing due process in all disciplinary cases. Students shall be guaranteed freedom from illegal discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, disability, status as a disabled or Vietnam-era veteran, political views or affiliation, or sexual orientation.

Article IV. Board Legislation

Section 1. Classification of Board Legislation

Legislation by the Board shall be classified as Board Bylaws, Board Regulations, and the university Constitution.

Section 2. Bylaws

Legislation concerning the organization, procedures, and functions of the Board itself shall be classified as Bylaws of the Board of Trustees.

Section 3. Board Regulations

Legislation concerning the broad structure and procedures of internal operations and organization of Northern Illinois University shall be classified as the Regulations of the Board of Trustees.

Section 4. The University Constitution

As adopted by the Board of Trustees, the document prepared by Northern Illinois University to provide for its internal operating organization within the framework of the Regulations of the Board shall be classified as the university's Constitution. The Constitution shall become an integral part of the Board's legislation with reference to the university.

Section 5. Reservation of Powers

The Board of Trustees is charged by law with full responsibility for governing the university. Although the Board properly and necessarily delegates authority to designated officers and agencies, it cannot divest itself of its ultimate legal responsibility. Accordingly, the Board expressly reserves to itself the power to act on its own initiative in all matters affecting the university. However, in matters for which faculty have primary responsibility, the Board will not act upon its own initiative without first soliciting the advice and recommendations of the president and, through the president, the University Advisory Committee and such faculty as the president deems necessary.

Section 6. Adoption, Review and Amendment of the Bylaws

Bylaws may be adopted at any regular meeting by majority vote of the total current voting membership of the Board. The Bylaws shall be reviewed periodically as needed.

The Bylaws of the Board of Trustees may be amended at any regular meeting of the Board by majority vote of the total voting membership of the Board, provided that notice of the intention to amend the Bylaws shall have been presented in writing at the regular meeting immediately preceding. Such notice shall provide so far as possible the exact wording of the amendment proposed.

Section 7. Adoption and Amendment of Board Regulations

Board Regulations may be adopted at any regular meeting by majority vote of the total current voting membership of the Board, after it has sought the advice and recommendations of the president and, through the president, the advice of the University Advisory Committee and of such faculty and staff as the president deems necessary.

The Regulations may be amended at any regular meeting of the Board by majority vote of the total current voting membership of the Board, provided that notice of the intention to amend the Regulations shall have been presented in writing at least three days preceding that meeting. Such notice shall provide so far as possible the exact wording of the amendment proposed.

Members of the Board of Trustees, the president, and members of the University Advisory Committee may propose amendments to the Board Regulations.

The president shall maintain a catalogue of Board Regulations and shall furnish members of the Board copies of all adopted or modified Regulations. The president shall also be responsible for further internal distribution to university faculty and staff.

Should any provision of the Board Regulations or any application thereof become unlawful by virtue of any federal or state law, executive order, decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, or administrative agency having final authority over its provisions, such provisions shall not be deemed valid and subsisting except to the extent permitted by law, while all other provisions will continue in full force and effect. The president or designee is fully authorized to adopt necessary standards and implementing procedures in order to effectuate the Board Regulations and maintain them in accordance with applicable laws or regulations. The president or designee shall, at the request of the Board or the Board Chair, issue interpretive memoranda in response to questions of interpretation.

Section 8. Approval and Amendment of the University Constitution

The university Constitution stipulates procedures for amendment. After approval of a proposed amendment by the university, the Board at any regular meeting, may approve such amendment by majority vote of the total voting membership of the Board, provided that notice of the proposed amendment shall have been presented in writing at the regular meeting immediately preceding.

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