Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker to step down

Calls state investigation report 'distracting'

By DREW ZIMMERMAN - dzimmerman@shawmedia.com Published: Thursday, June 15, 2017 11:04 a.m. CDT
Matt Apgar / mapgar@shawmedia.com Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker (left), sitting alongside Board of Trustees Chairman John Butler, announces he will step down as the university's president June 30. — Matt Apgar / mapgar@shawmedia.com

DeKALB – In the wake of a state investigation that said President Doug Baker "mismanaged" Northern Illinois University, he announced at this morning's Board of Trustees meeting that he is leaving the university.

Baker called the 56-page report from the Office of the Executive Inspector General a "distraction," and said he'd step down June 30.

The report found that NIU officials hired at least five people as though they were part-time instructors and paid them more than $1 million combined over a roughly two-year period.

The investigation found that starting when Baker took office in June 2013, university officials, under orders from Baker, improperly classified multiple high-paying consulting positions as affiliate employees to skirt state rules requiring competitive bidding.

The Board of Trustees was given the report in August, and Baker said that after its public release at the end of May, he met with board Chairman John Butler about his future.

"While my end-of-term evaluation process was proceeding in a positive manner, we agreed that the reaction to the OEIG report was a significant distraction," Baker said. "He made it clear to me that the board intended to continue the orderly and thorough review to assess my performance as part of the process."

Baker added, however, that the best way to move forward was to enter into a presidential transition agreement. The board is expected to consider a transition agreement later today and give an update after its closed session.

"I regret that we have reached this point, as this is a job I love in a place I have come to call home, but I truly do believe that at this point, this course of action is best for the university," Baker said. "My thanks to our wonderful leadership team, our strong cadre of deans, the faculty and staff, our inspiring and talented students, donors, alumni and my office staff for their support in these challenging times."

This story is developing. Check back at Daily-Chronicle.com for updates.