ISU promises 'open' search for new president
Illinois State University's governing body said it plans to make its search for a new, permanent president an open one.
Board of Trustees (BOT) president Kathy Bohn said Friday the seven-member board is still in the process of putting together a search committee that includes other trustees, as well as faculty, staff and student representatives to work alongside Parker Executive Search, the firm it hired to find candidates in September.
Bohn said the open search "includes announcing finalists, providing an opportunity for community engagement with the finalists and soliciting feedback on the finalists before the board makes a decision."
Bohn said further details regarding timing are still being finalized. Interim president Aondover Tarhule, who was appointed after Terri Goss Kinzy resigned in February, is slated to serve in that role until June 30.
Graduate student union to vote to authorize strike
Several members of ISU's Graduate Workers Union (GWU) addressed the BOT directly during public comment at Friday's meeting to call for an increase in wages. ISU and the GWU are currently negotiating a new contract for its members, a process that began in mid-March.
Members of the GWU told trustees their work as teaching and research assistants doesn't provide a living wage. Under the current agreement, master's-level students make around $1,300 per month and Ph.D. students make around $1,400 a month.
"You may be asking yourself, 'Why should graduate workers make a living wage when they're here to earn their degree?' I believe, and I'm here to state, that the well-being of graduate students is the well-being of our entire school body," graduate student Rebekah Mangels said. "If we can't teach well, how will we be able ... to do our job properly if we're not making a living wage?"
ISU does not comment directly on these matters but maintains websites dedicated to detailing negotiations with unions it works with: On its graduate workers union page, ISU said GTA work is intended to reduce the cost of attendance in advanced degree programs, not be "a profession or otherwise intended to be the equivalent of a full-time job."
ISU said it employs about 450 GTAs for the current semester.
Negotiations between the GWU and ISU remain ongoing, with a federal mediator slated to be present on Oct. 17, 25 and 27.
The GWU may take a strike authorization vote in the coming days, but that would not directly lead to a strike. A separate vote to strike would need to be taken, and the union is legally required to provide a 10-day notice to the university before striking.
Also Friday, the BOT:
- Approved a 2024 operating budget of $561.3 million after receiving state appropriations
- Approved a FY 25 $96.2 million operating budget request and a $634.4 million capital projects request to be submitted for the Illinois Board of Higher Education
- Approved a $1.25 million upgrade of ISU's network, marking the second phase of a multistage upgrade
- Approved both temporary and permanent easements along Gregory Street in Normal so the town can extend Constitution Trail from North Parkside Road to North Adelaide Street.