Northern Illinois President Resigns as Spending Questioned

June 16, 2017

The president of Northern Illinois University announced at a Thursday Board of Trustees meeting that he will resign at the end of June after an investigation found he and other university administrators had sidestepped bidding requirements when hiring highly paid consultants.

President Doug Baker denied investigators’ conclusions. But he called the issue a distraction that the university should not have to face as it deals with other challenges.

The state’s inspector general started a probe of the university’s hiring practices in 2014 because of anonymous tips. Findings were released to university officials last year and then made public at the end of May. Investigators found the university hired nine employees between June 2013 and May 2015, paying all over $20,000 without soliciting bids, according to the Chicago Tribune. State law requires agencies to put independent contractors’ jobs out for public bid if they are worth more than $20,000.

Administrators obscured their actions by classifying the employees as short-term, part-time workers, a designation that does not require public bidding, investigators found. They paid for travel expenses and on-campus lodging. In total, the university spent more than $1 million on the employees in question.

Baker has been president since 2013.

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