DeKalb, IL – April 13th, 2010 is John La Tourette Day in Illinois. The former Northern Illinois University president returned to DeKalb, where a campus building was renamed in his honor.
La Tourette has been fairly busy since leaving N.I.U. He and his wife travel extensively, he's involved with a community college and guidance clinic in Prescott, Arizona, and his genealogy research has culminated in a French-language book: it involves his family's role in early Protestantism in France and America.
A lot has changed on campus in the ten years since La Tourette retired and moved to Arizona. He says although the campus looks good, he's concerned about whether the state is going to provide the funds to keep it up.
Schools are hurting everywhere, thanks to budget woes rooted in every state capitol: La Tourette is on the Foundation Board of Yavapai Community College in Prescott, Arizona. He says Illinois is better off in some ways: that's because the state had a tradition of supporting its schools. But he says that will all be wasted if Illinois lawmakers don't "face the reality" that state tax rates are pretty low, especially the income tax.
LaTourette adds one thing that's keeping Illinois' universities afloat was put in place during his tenure at NIU: that's when each school's Board of Trustees was handed control of tuition and fees. Many, including N.I.U., are using those funds to meet payroll while they wait for the state to catch up on promised payments.
For more on N.I.U.'s tenth president's take on the university's future, here's WNIJ's Susan Stephens' interview with John La Tourette. (8:47)