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Local

NIU trustees to contemplate Freeman's presidential future

Northern Illinois University's acting President Lisa Freeman applauds a student who asked a question during an open forum Aug. 30 with faculty, staff and students in the auditorium at Altgeld Hall on the NIU campus in DeKalb.
Northern Illinois University's acting President Lisa Freeman applauds a student who asked a question during an open forum Aug. 30 with faculty, staff and students in the auditorium at Altgeld Hall on the NIU campus in DeKalb.

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees will consider the next steps in finding the university’s next president during its meeting Thursday.

Trustees are set to discuss whether they officially will move forward in making NIU’s acting president, Lisa Freeman, the school’s permanent president, or whether they will open up a national search for the position.

Those talks come after trustees said Freeman was their pick for the university’s next president during a July meeting, and Freeman officially announced her candidacy shortly after. Trustees also listened during recent meetings between Freeman and constituents to gather input about the acting president potentially becoming the next permanent president.

“If the Board decides to pursue Dr. Freeman, the final action to approve any presidential appointment and agreement will be publicly posted and approved in open session at a future meeting of the board in compliance with applicable law,” the Thursday meeting’s public notice said.

The adjusted presidential search process was created to address public concerns of transparency in the hiring process. Trustees previously declined to comment on their findings from those talks until the Thursday meeting.

Freeman became acting president when Doug Baker resigned in June 2017 after a state investigation found that, since Baker became president in 2013, NIU officials improperly classified high-paying consulting positions as affiliate employees on Baker’s orders to avoid state rules that require competitive bidding. Freeman was vice president and provost during Baker’s presidency.

The NIU Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in Altgeld Hall on the NIU DeKalb campus.

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