NIU Board Of Trustees Confirms Freeman As Acting President

Jun 28, 2017

NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman and NIU Board Of Trustees Chair John Butler at the BOT meeting where her appointment was confirmed
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees Wednesday voted to make NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman Acting President, effective July 1.  She becomes the first woman to lead NIU.

Freeman takes over from NIU President Doug Baker, who leaves at the end of June. Baker resigned after an inspector general’s report on hiring violations by his administration became public.   

Baker’s term saw an increase in the number of Freedom of Information, or FOIA, requests to NIU over hiring and other decisions.

Freeman said job one is make sure people have faith in the office of NIU president. That starts with more transparency.

“And so I’m going to commit to things like posting all of my travel receipts and reimbursements,” she said, “so that we’re going to diminish FOIA not by asking people to stop sending requests, [but] by putting out the information so people feel that the information is available to them.”

Freeman says she’s looking forward to meeting with NIU’s enrollment and marketing division on ways to boost the number of students coming to the school.

“To talk about our enrollment strategic plan,” Freeman said, "and how I can help the university improve its reputation and show students and parents from around the state and the nation what a great place NIU is.”  

Freeman said structural reorganization and other initiatives underway at NIU will continue.  

Freeman said she and others at NIU are watching the state budget negotiations in Springfield to see what kind of funding, if any, the school will receive.   

Christopher McCord, Dean of the NIU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, was named to fill in for Freeman as acting provost.

There was no word on how long the search for a permanent president will take. Freeman has said she is not applying for the position.  

The Board of Trustees also named Mark Cordes Interim Dean of the NIU College of Law. That follows the resignation of Law Dean Eric Dannenmaier after an investigation into improper workplace conduct.

Freeman said an official statement from NIU on the matter will be forthcoming.