It’s not easy to argue against cuts in your budget when an audit finds that you’re not properly managing public money.That report comes shortly after the Northern Star broke news of a consultant getting a particularly cushy retainer.
Or worse, that your vice presidents didn’t even bother to respond to inquiries from the State Auditor General’s office.
That’s what a report from the Illinois Auditor General’s office said about Northern Illinois University this week. One finding had an actual dollar value attached – that the university had improperly reimbursed a temporary employee more than $30,000 for travel. That’s unfortunate, but it’s likely only a symptom of systemic failures that state auditors identified.
More concerning were the findings that the university in general, and many university departments in particular, were not following rules laid out in the state Fiscal Control and Internal Auditing Act.
Either that or, in the case of three university vice presidents, they did not respond to forms sent to them by the auditor general so that they could be evaluated.
One department was following only one of 25 attributes needed to be in compliance, another followed only 18 of 25 attributes.
Chronicle editorialists note, "Perhaps this audit report will add urgency to the need for financial reform at NIU and will make it easier for officials to find efficiencies as they prepare for funding reductions that are certain to come."
More important, however, will be the urgency of the faculty rediscovering their responsibilities as stewards of the university. Administrators, consultants, and business fads come and go. Higher education is a calling, and we refer to the permanent faculty as professors for a reason.