NIU Faculty Senate Discusses President Baker’s Performance

The NIU Faculty Senate is examining actions taken by NIU President Doug Baker. A vote of no confidence in his leadership appears possible.

Michael J. Haji-Sheikh of NIU’s Department of Electrical Engineering has collected emails regarding the hiring of contractors and affiliate employees of NIU from the beginning of Baker’s tenure. He compiled the most pertinent into a summary of events, and presented it to the Senate this week. Find the summary and supporting documentation here. Among the issues that Haji-Sheikh says are being investigated, or that should be investigated, are the following:

  • Contractors billed NIU for activities outside the scope of normal university business, such as meeting with the owners of the University Village apartment complex.

  • NIU Foundation accounts were used to pay employees and consultants, which bypassed the usual NIU accounts for these types of payments.

  • The full NIU Board of Trustees apparently did not know about, and therefore did not provide oversight for, projects such as development of a private corporation called College Town Partners, and a “super university” plan.

  • A no-bid consulting contract was written for $19,999, which is one cent under the threshold for requiring an open bid — and the billing for the work ultimately exceeded the threshold amount.

  • The Faculty Senate also sent Baker a list of nine questions regarding a December article in which Baker referenced a report and admitted to “limited compliance violations” related to state employment rules. A copy of Baker’s response is here.

    Freedom of Information Act requests have been submitted to NIU for the specific report that Baker was referring to in the article, but the requests have been denied, presumably due to confidentiality requirements surrounding an active investigation. Baker is under investigation by the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General.