University Council and Faculty Senate


January 2015, Volume 4, Issue 2

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 Bill Pitney, Executive Secretary
of the University Council and President of the Faculty Senate, at Letters to the editor will be considered for publication. Letter writers must identify themselves and will be identified if the letter is published.

In this issue:
Program prioritization
New open access policy
Faculty Club lunch dates set

Program prioritization

As you have learned this past semester, NIU has initiated the program prioritization process. “A program is any activity or collection of activities that consumes resources” (Dickeson, 2010 p. 56); thus, both academic and administrative programs will be evaluated. From an academic standpoint, the majority of programs will be delineated by the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code. The purpose of program prioritization is to systematically collect and analyze information from all programs in the University to make data informed decisions related to the allocation of resources so the institution’s strategic imperatives are realized. As President Baker (Baker, 2014) has explained, the process will allow NIU “…to align available resources with institutional priorities so that we can deliver most effectively on our cornerstone objective of student career success.”

I am a member of the delegation from NIU that attended a conference in Chicago last October titled “Prioritizing Academic and Administrative Programs.” The delegation has representation from faculty, operating staff and supportive professional staff, and this group is now acting as the prioritization coordinating team.

In the coming months, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to participate in a survey that will inform the identification of appropriate criteria to evaluate programs. The survey results will be analyzed and input from shared governance bodies will be obtained to finalize the criteria and their weighting. Appropriate data (quantitative, qualitative, or both) for each criteria will be identified, collected, analyzed, and placed in a concise report template. Two different task forces, one consisting of faculty who will focus on academic programs and the other consisting of faculty and staff for administrative program review, will act as trustees to examine the program reports and prioritize programs. Guided by the goal of institutional improvement and mission alignment, many outcomes are possible including investing, divesting, consolidating, expanding, reallocating, adding, deleting and maintaining programs.  

Prior to attending the conference, I was curious about the role of shared governance in this process. I was pleased to learn that, indeed, faculty have substantial input and the principles of shared governance will permeate the procedures. This is, however, an extraordinary process—one that will shape the future of NIU.

Additional information will be forthcoming via many venues (e.g., faculty senate, university council, town hall meetings) to ensure the processes are both transparent and understood. Also, a web site will soon be launched that offers answers to frequently asked questions and the most current information during the duration of the prioritization process. This will be updated regularly.

One question I frequently get, that I will address here, is “why are we even thinking about this process?” First, we are all very much aware of the current fiscal challenges: 1) the State of Illinois has consistently reduced its allocation of funding to institutions of higher education, 2) our enrollments have steadily declined, and 3) over time we have struggled to improve our student retention. Given the current financial challenges, it is impossible to continue to fund our programs and services at their current levels. For the fiscal health of the institution, we need to figure out how best to allocate our limited resources. To that end, we need to systematically examine our programs to identify those to nurture and grow, those to maintain, those to improve, and those to restructure.  

The process, I believe, is logical and systematic. We have all prioritized personal and professional aspects of our lives in some way, shape or form. The reality is our resources are finite and to achieve the goals and objectives we set we must allocate resources (time, money, energy) based on the best information we have available set against our priorities. I suspect that within our current academic programs many of us have already, either individually or collectively, examined what is relevant and what isn’t, what is working and what isn’t working, which courses need more resources and which need less.

Prioritization of academic and administrative programs will not be without challenges and concerns. With shared governance and open communication, however, we can invent our future together.


Baker, D. (2014, December 12). Baker report: Program prioritization aligns NIU for Student Career Success, NIU Today.

Dickeson, R.C. (2010). Prioritizing academic programs and services: Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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New Open Access Policy for Scholarly Articles Produced by NIU Faculty

At its December 3 meeting, the University Council approved the following policy endorsed by the Faculty Senate. It will be entered into the Academic Policies and Procedures Manual, Section I, Item 13.

Open Access Policy for
Scholarly Articles Produced by NIU Faculty

Each faculty member is strongly encouraged to retain all copyright rights for all scholarly articles that they publish or produce. Each faculty member grants Northern Illinois University permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and grants Northern Illinois University license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles provided these are not sold.

The policy applies to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while the person is a member of the faculty except for any articles published before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. This policy does not transfer copyright ownership, which remains with faculty authors under existing Northern Illinois University policy, unless the author chooses to transfer the copyright to a publisher.

Application of the license will be waived for a particular article or access delayed for a specified period of time upon expressed direction by a faculty member to Northern Illinois University.

To assist the university in disseminating and archiving the articles, each faculty member will provide an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article to Northern Illinois University by the date of its publication. Northern Illinois University will make the articles available in an open access repository, Huskie Commons. When appropriate, a faculty member may instead notify Northern Illinois University if the article will be freely available in another repository or as an open-access publication.

The University Council, in consultation with the office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will review the policy within three years, and present a report to the faculty. The Faculty Senate calls upon the University Council and Northern Illinois University to develop and monitor mechanisms that would render implementation and compliance with the policy as convenient for the faculty as possible.

The policy was originally generated by the Open Access to Research Articles Task Force that was assembled in accordance with Public Act 098-0295, the Open Access to Research Articles act.

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Faculty Club lunch dates set

Join me and your colleagues throughout the university for the Faculty Club lunches. This is a chance to meet faculty members from other colleges and departments and create a sense of community. The Faculty Club lunches were a huge success last semester, so let's keep up that momentum and get to know one another over a good meal in a great environment. here are the details:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 4, Chandelier Rooml
    Menu: “Soup and Salad” buffet featuring cream of broccoli soup with shredded cheddar cheese; chicken noodle soup; freshly tossed salad with a variety of toppings and dressings; assorted fresh fruit; ciabatta bread; assorted desserts; and beverages.
    Cost: $11
    Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., seating until 1 p.m.
    Reservation deadline: Monday, Jan. 26
  • Thursday, March 19, Hunt Room of Ellington’s
    Menu: Coincides with Ellington's feature for the day
    Cost: $10
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. seating until 12:30 p.m.
    Reservation deadline: Monday, March 9
  • Tuesday, April 7, Hunt Room of Ellington’s
    Menu: Coincides with Ellington's feature for the day
    Cost: $10
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. seating until 12:30 p.m.
    Reservation deadline: Monday, March 30

As always, reservations must be made in advance by emailing Pat Erickson by the reservation deadline.

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

University Council and
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