Acting NIU President Now Willing To Take On The Role Permanently

Jul 11, 2018

NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman has reconsidered whether to become a candidate for the role permanently. Initially, Freeman declined to put her name forth for consideration for the post. She was named to the position after the resignation of former NIU President Doug Baker.

Credit Northern Illinois University

According to a release from representatives of the Board of Trustees, Freeman is now willing to remain in the role.

Last August and September, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees met with multiple stakeholder groups on campus to gather feedback intended to inform the search for a new president of NIU.  Board members say that process ultimately informed the board's decision to postpone the launch of a national search and create the Presidential Search Planning Committee (PSPC).

With the unexpected change in leadership last summer, the immediate goal of the board was to steady the university. Dr. Lisa Freeman readily accepted that challenge. In her role as Acting President for the past year, she has not only stabilized operations but also has led efforts that have notably advanced NIU in areas such as transparency and fiscal sustainability. She has driven growth in our partnerships, responded thoughtfully to student advocacy on a range of critical issues, and actively engaged donors and alumni. We have had the benefit of observing and working with her in this role. She has consistently demonstrated a keen ability to meet the university's challenges and position NIU for future success. We are grateful for the professionalism and leadership that she has provided and for the passion she has shown for NIU. - Wheeler Coleman and Dennis Barsema (Chair and Vice Chair of the NIU Board of Trustees)

The release says as the board studied the profile developed by the search committee, it was also conducting Dr. Freeman's annual performance review.

While that assessment has not yet been completed, it is clear from the preliminary work that she has received high marks for her performance this past year.  As the two processes proceeded, it became very evident that the needs described in the profile, and the expertise, talents and values of Acting President Freeman tightly align. Given the challenges we face, as well as the myriad, positive opportunities to be developed, we need a proven leader who will continue to build momentum. We also must consider the high costs of hiring a search firm as well as the risks associated with a national search, including the possibility of a failed search. - Wheeler Coleman and Dennis Barsema (Chair and Vice Chair of the NIU Board of Trustees)

As a result, board representatives asked her to reconsider a candidacy.

After consultation with the University Advisory Committee, Senior Roundtable and the Council of Deans, board members would like to propose an adjusted search process and put forth Dr. Freeman as the candidate for the university and board to consider. They are asking for informational gathering sessions in August and September. Feedback gathered at each session will be brought back for consideration by the full board at one of its future meetings.

The Board of Trustees will hold aspecial meeting on Monday, July 16. If approved, they will then move forward with scheduling information gathering sessions with each constituent group.