…and I’m not altogether sure all of them were followed.
Chapter 110 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) is the Chapter that governs higher education. You can see how it is organized here, that it has general provisions and then provisions specific to the Board of Higher Education, each public university, community colleges, and student assistance.
110 ILCS 685 applies to Northern Illinois University, and most of NIU Law is contained in Article 30, as in 110 ILCS 685/30.
The section that applies to severance is Section 30-195, all of which comes from Public Act 99-0694, which passed the Illinois General Assembly July 29, 2016, and became effective January 1, 2017. In other words, this is very likely the Act that was passed in response to extreme misbehavior at College of DuPage.
I have bolded the provisions that I cannot determine were followed.
Sec. 30-195. Employment contract limitations. This Section applies to the employment contracts of the president or all chancellors of the University entered into, amended, renewed, or extended after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly. This Section does not apply to collective bargaining agreements. With respect to employment contracts entered into with the president or all chancellors of the University:
(1) Severance under the contract may not exceed one year salary and applicable benefits.
(2) A contract with a determinate start and end date may not exceed 4 years.
(3) The contract may not include any automatic rollover clauses.
(4) Severance payments or contract buyouts may be placed in an escrow account if there are pending criminal charges against the president or all chancellors of the University related to their employment.
(5) Final action on the formation, renewal, extension, or termination of the employment contracts of the president or all chancellors of the University must be made during an open meeting of the Board.
(6) Public notice, compliant with the provisions of the Open Meetings Act, must be given prior to final action on the formation, renewal, extension, or termination of the employment contracts of the president or all chancellors of the University and must include a copy of the Board item or other documentation providing, at a minimum, a description of the proposed principal financial components of the president’s or all chancellors’ appointments.
(7) Any performance-based bonus or incentive-based compensation to the president or all chancellors of the University must be approved by the Board in an open meeting. The performance upon which the bonus is based must be made available to the public no less than 48 hours before Board approval of the performance-based bonus or incentive-based compensation.
(8) Board minutes, board packets, and annual performance reviews concerning the president or all chancellors of the University must be made available to the public on the University’s Internet website.
(Source: P.A. 99-694, eff. 1-1-17.)
The Daily Chronicle has published the severance agreement between the NIU Board of Trustees and Dr. Baker. The DC calls it a severance agreement, despite the BoT’s evident attempt to disguise it as a “transitional” agreement in order to pay for more than what is allowed under the new law.
“Transitional” contracts with NIU presidents do not appear to exist. The choices are “formation,” “renewal,” “extension,” and “termination” of contracts. Payouts under termination are “severance.”
It looks like the university also failed to comply with open meetings laws, as it did not provide the contract online prior to the meeting that I can find (nor afterward, for that matter) and the agenda item for June 15 merely says, “13. PRESIDENTIAL EMPLOYMENT (review and approval).” The reports and contracts contained in the one online packet I found did not include item 13.
The agreement seems problematic. I hope persons with the legal know-how are eyeballing it.