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Embattled NIU President to receive $600K golden parachute

Friday, Jun 16, 2017

* Ugh…

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is outraged at the latest golden parachute payout at Northern Illinois University.

News released today outlines NIU’s plan to pay President Doug Baker $600,000 plus benefits when he steps down later this month in the wake of the Illinois Inspector General’s investigation into illegal hires made by the university.

“As students across the state of Illinois are struggling to pay tuition and fees, our public higher education institutions are handing out golden parachutes to disgraced administrators for violating taxpayers’ trust,” Cullerton said. “What message are we sending? This needs to stop now. Illinois needs to get out of the business of paying university administrators off for their mismanagement and failing to comply with state laws.”

Under the deal, Baker will receive a full year’s salary of $450,000 and $137,000 to not serve as a member of the College of Business faculty. He also will be paid up to $30,000 for his “reasonable, unpaid expenses for legal counsel” related to his time at NIU.

“It is simple. If you mismanage state funds, you should not be rewarded,” Cullerton said.

The Inspector General’s report was publically 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 went on later to report that two of the nine employees involved in the hiring scandal made more than $400,000 for 15 and 18 months of work.

In the midst of the state’s budget impasse, NIU announced in May they will be eliminating and reducing 150 staff positions, which included 30 active employees. The active employees will have to transition to open positions across the university, exercise their civil service employment rights within their employment classifications or have contracts that will not be renewed.

“We are in the middle of a budget impasse. Every dollar, every penny, needs to be put toward the betterment and education of our children,” Cullerton said. “This deal is a betrayal of taxpayers’ trust. State dollars should not be used to line the pockets of failed administrators. ”

Cullerton is calling for tougher regulations to stop state universities and community colleges from paying out administrators while under investigation or found guilty of university mismanagement

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments »
  1. - not again - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:19 pm:

    There is also a dean on administrative leave right now who will likely get a similar payout to go away. NIU is a great institution, but they need to get their house in order.


  2. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:21 pm:

    I really need to get one of those golden parachutes.


  3. - winners and losers - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:22 pm:

    This is a problem all over Illinois: colleges, universities, and local school districts.


  4. - Blue Bayou - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    It’s a problem in our culture broadly: reward executives beyond all reason, no matter what they do.

    Working people? Nah.


  5. - JPC - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    I work at a state university and I can tell you this stuff is absolutely baffling. The faculty will ask them to justify such expenditures, and they just stare back at you without answering.


  6. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    This is where Lisa Madigan needs to step in


  7. - don the legend - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    Ugh is right. This just gives the IPI types more red meat for the “eliminate waste, fraud and abuse” as the solution to all the State’s problems.


  8. - Nieva - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    Hard to get a sympathetic ear to the problems of funding when this kind of abuse of public funds goes on.


  9. - Midway Gardens - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    NIU paid $189K for Baker’s legal fees during the investigation. The trustees got this report last August. Baker’s contract expires this month. They could have just done nothing. Rauner probably can’t force the trustees out but he could try to shake things up by calling this out. It’s no wonder the average taxpayer might think that the state’s budget problems could be solved by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. It’s constant.


  10. - Signal and Noise - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    The NIU football coach makes $900k, where’s the sanctimonious on that?


  11. - Signal and Noise - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    *outrage


  12. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    Sounds to me like he was dismissed for cause. There should be no extra payout for that.

    The contracts for University Officials need to be reviewed. There should be no golden parachutes written into them.


  13. - Terry Salad - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    Signal — my understanding is that the football coach salary does not come from State taxpayers or tuition dollars. This is not true for the President or the frauds he hired.


  14. - different day same story - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    Kids and their parents need to get smart about school. Blackburn allows kids to work and pay for school. There’s always the military, Peace Corps which provide scholarships and work experience which look good on job applications.


  15. - Bogey Golfer - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    Similar to the issue at the College of DuPage a couple of years ago.


  16. - Grandpa2 - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    DuPage Saint hit the nail on the head. There are alleged violations of State law and the AG is the State’s top prosecutor. But, the investigation might also get into the actions of the Board of Trustees, and they are people with important political connections on both sides of the aisle (the only way to get appointed as a University Trustee!). Unfortunately, our current AG seems to avoid cases where the possible targets have high profile State political connections.


  17. - Tommydanger - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    Apparently the Governor’s appointees to the Board were ok with spending tax dollars on a guy whose contract was expiring at the end of the month and mismanaged the University while President.

    What’s wrong with just saying no?


  18. - Blue Bayou - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    The Board deserves a lot of blame here.

    Why doesn’t the Governor’s office do something about that? Are they on summer vacation?


  19. - Fairycat - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    @ Tommydanger–Baker’s contract as president was set to expire in June 2018, not June 2017.
    That payout is obscene.


  20. - Bigtwich - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    “the AG is the State’s top prosecutor”

    The Illinois Attorney General does not have much power in criminal prosecutions. Assisting State’s Attorneys, appeals in the Supreme Court (but not Appellate Courts) and some statewide criminal activities.


  21. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 1:55 pm:

    It’s time for Gov. Rauner to replace the board of trustees.


  22. - the Patriot - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 2:07 pm:

    ““It is simple. If you mismanage state funds, you should not be rewarded,” Cullerton said.”

    Say that again Real Slow and think about it.


  23. - filmmaker prof - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 2:17 pm:

    Same as it ever was ….

    http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-84197452/


  24. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 2:18 pm:

    I was recently hired at NIU and it is the most disorganized institution I have worked with in my 20 year career. They even reneged on part of my offer after they made it, citing the impasse, which amounted to about $400 and then I see this… If I didn’t need the job so bad I would walk away but in Rauner’s Illinois, higher ed work is hard to come by right now and my family needs the money.


  25. - Coconut - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    The NIU president did have one year left on his contract - it was up June 30, 2018 not in 2 weeks.


  26. - Graduated College Student - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 2:28 pm:

    If you want to know what higher ed would look like if it were “run like a business”, well here you go.


  27. - Ron - Friday, Jun 16, 17 @ 4:38 pm:

    Not surprising, this is illinois after all. The worst run state in the union. Decade upon decade of gross mismanagement.


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