NIU president resigns following state investigation with $600K golden parachute
Northern Illinois University President Douglas Baker will leave his post June 30 with more than half a million in severance pay and benefits.
Baker announced his resignation at a recent Board of Trustees meeting after a report was made public showing a state investigation found he mismanaged the university. During the same meeting, the board approved a nearly $600,000 severance package, according to the Daily Chronicle. Baker took office in 2013 and his contract was good through June 2018.
A report from the Office of the Executive Inspector General found that Baker mismanaged the university by using improper hiring practices, classifying high-paid consultants as affiliate employees to avoid more stringent vetting.
NIU paid more than $1 million combined over two years to five people officials classified as part-time instructors in 2013 and 2014, according to reports.
The inspector general report was sent to the board in August but wasn't made public until May, according to the Associated Press. Instead of firing Baker in response, the board of trustees made two small policy changes. The Edgar County Watchdogs said in a post that the board's lack of action let down the state.
“In December, the Board adopted the revised Whistleblower Policy and President Baker issued a Baker Report rededicating himself publicly to taking leadership responsibility for ensuring compliance and communicating frequently with the campus community about process improvements and other policy initiatives,” a press release from the board stated.
The Watchdog group said the board didn't go far enough. A number of people echoed the sentiment at the June 15 board meeting, calling for the president to be removed.
“Baker should have been immediately fired,” ECW argued. “We urge the governor to replace these Board of Trustee members at the earliest possible moment – they are not blameless in this situation for they are charged with oversight…of the President and the University. This [Board] failed the public and the State of Illinois.”