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.
Senate Democrats Caucus Staff
John J. Cullerton, Senate President
Stratton Building, F-Section