22.12.15

ANOTHER LITTLE TIN BOX?

Administrative nest-feathering continues to corrode morale at Northern Illinois University.

There was the coffee fund, a way of sustainably recycling scrap metal and misappropriating state property, until a few people got purged, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed up.


Earlier this year, a national search for a wholly unnecessary chief diversity officer made the university administration a national laughingstock.

Now, the university has retained counsel in re president Douglas Baker.
Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker has been under investigation by a state watchdog agency for months, and records show the university has paid tens of thousands of dollars to a Boston-based law firm to represent him.

According to documents obtained by the Daily Chronicle, law firm Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC billed the university for 142.4 hours of work and expenses totaling more than $85,000 from March through September as they have worked on a defense.

The amount includes a $3,500 retainer fee for Raymond Cotton, a Harvard-educated member of the firm who is based out of Washington, D.C., and specializes in representing higher education executives
The Inspector General's investigations can go on for years, and the existence of such an investigation need not be a signal of wrong-doing.
The executive inspector general’s office fields and, at its discretion, investigates complaints against employees of, and those doing business with, agencies under the governor’s purview, including state universities. Anyone can send a complaint to the office, but officials do not confirm or deny receipt of complaints or whether they lead to an investigation, a spokesman said.
The annual mandatory ethics training state university employees participate in generally reminds participants that there are whistle-blower protections, and that the inspector general's office is a resource.  Thus the lack of detail in the story ... that's the law.

At a time when President Baker has subjected the university to something called "program prioritization" (in the fashion of the Congressional Base Closing Commission, let outsiders, or an algorithm designed by outsiders, decide which programs to close) the continued expenditure on faction fights among the administrators cannot be fostering much confidence in the university's future.

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