Monday, October 17, 2016

The Forced Takeover of Northeastern Illinois University

You are probably wondering why TakeBackNEIU has been so quiet lately. There has been a complete takeover by the administration of almost every department on campus. It's challenging to list which departments are left to actually make their own decisions. The most recent email from now acting President Helldobbler adds several more departments he's seized from the faculty and staff. 


I’m writing to inform you that the Offices of Marketing and Web Communications, Cultural Events, and Community and Professional Education (CAPE), as well as Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre, will transition to the President’s Office effective October 1, 2016.

Since joining Northeastern three years ago, I have invested significant time and resources to support Marketing initiatives in the context of Enrollment and Branding. With the forthcoming launch of the University’s capital campaign, this move is a natural extension to further align our marketing strategies and initiatives.

Bringing Cultural Events and CAPE to the President’s Office will offer synergistic opportunities to integrate arts programming with community and professional education to better engage the external community to Northeastern’s multiple locations.

Also playing an important role in engaging our external community is Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre. With an international story to tell, the Ensemble continues to be a great ambassador for our University. Since they are such a large external facing partner, I plan to leverage my contacts in the dance community to better support the Ensemble to increase their and Northeastern’s exposure in the arts community in Chicago and beyond.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with colleagues from Marketing and Web Communications, Cultural Events, Community and Professional Education, and Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre after October 1.

Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.

Last spring Academic Affairs took over Student Affairs, Academic Advising, The Learning Support Center, New Student and Family Programming/Placement and Testing, Project Success, Proyecto Pa'Lante, and TRIO in an attempt to "retain" students. Soon after President Hahs announced her retirement and Richard Helldobbler was promoted as acting interim "President".  Before that in October of 2015 Hahs sent out an email informing the university community that the Marketing Department would also be under the direction of Helldobbler, citing low enrollment as the reason. 

Then low and behold this fall Helldobbler hires an assistant to work with him on faculty governance. Imagine our surprise! This email really took the cake!

"President Hahs and I write to announce that Professor Emerita Shelley Bannister, who retired in December 2015, will return to Northeastern to serve part-time as Special Assistant to the President, effective September 16, 2016. In this role, Professor Emerita Bannister will bring together members of the University Community to discuss shared governance and the transitions that the University has recently undergone."

With all the budget cuts from the state and the university cutting classes as usual placing hardship on part time instructors and full time instructors, they hire someone to "WORK WITH HIM ON FACULTY GOVERNANCE?"

Finally this fall there was a gala event celebrating alumni's achievements. 

"Finally, on Saturday evening, get fancied up to celebrate incredible alumni at the very first Golden Gala Alumni Awards Dinner. This event will feature five alumni awardees and a celebration of the transformational leadership of President Sharon Hahs. The gala will begin at 6 p.m. and is black tie optional."

Well friends, you know how we feel about the "transformational leadership of President Sharon Hahs". She has singlehandedly taken control of our beloved commuter school, replacing it with a trustees led corporate entity that is controlled by the business interests that bankroll it's expansive real estate takeovers of the neighborhood. After winning the eminent domain last spring, they have been quietly forcing neighborhood businesses to close and preparing to bulldoze down Bryn Mawr and build yet more dorms and chain restaurants, although the one we have is less than half full and they've cut the hours the cafeteria is open.  

Stay tuned for more tales from the lost community we once called Northeastern Illinois University. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

#ShutDownChi #April1 #FightforFunding

It was an amazing day yesterday at NEIU. We started at Roosevelt High School at 6:30 am where there were labor organizers from all over the world to support teacher's efforts to regain funding for public education in Illinois. Despite the rain and damp cold, the energy, determination and sheer power of bringing all of our unions together for this day of action was intense. High school students spoke, labor organizers from all over the world, representatives from the Fight for Fifteen and then our own union leaders from NEIU spoke about the furloughs, 20% cut in pay, and the threat of closure of our university if Governor Rauner and state legislators do not end the budget stalemate in Illinois. We met up on our way from that picket line with other local high schools and stopped to rally in front of McDonalds where the workers had walked out. En masse we marched over to the University Commons of NEIU. There we mourned the death of public education with a coffin held up to the thousands of people standing in the rain on the grass. Students, faculty, union leaders, CTU teachers and students all marched around the blocks that surround the campus. Children waved from their windows as we went by. When we got back to the campus the phoenix was rising on a beautiful banner created by a coalition of staff, students and faculty and we cheered for the resurrection of public education and our collective voice that will not be silenced. Here is a photo journal of the events on April 1st 2016 at Roosevelt High School and Northeastern Illinois University and the Albany Park neighborhood. 

Labor organizer from Korea was there expressing solidarity for teachers in Chicago

Labor organizers from Japan expressing solidarity for teachers in Chicago

Fight for Fifteen was there with us supporting public educators
Young junior at Roosevelt spoke forcefully demanding an education for her future and her fellow students! 

Home Care worker from Fight for Fifteen demanding a living wage for working mothers and families.

Kshama Sawant speaking at Roosevelt. She followed us to NEIU and gave a rousing speech later as well.

Labor organizer from Brazil with there to support teachers. "We were on strike for months!"

These boys held their signs without moving for over 30 minutes. The young man, a senior at Roosevelt demanded "Schools not prisons!"

Roosevelt High School Student makes her own statement

CTA representative expresses solidarity with public educators

Roosevelt High School Students thank us for being a teacher

UPI and ASCME representatives are there at 6:30 am

Students and UPI representatives expressing solidarity with CPS teachers and CTU
Mourning the  death of Northeastern Illinois University

We mourn the death of public education! 

The march begins!
Solidarity from CTU

Young children and mom wave at us as we march by!

The Phoenix rises. We will not let Rauner destroy public education.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


The Independent (recently taken over by Academic Affairs) should understand and realize there is a REASON for the name of the STUDENT newspaper at Northeastern Illinois University. Why in the world would the President of our Esteemed University,  Dr Sharon Hahs, be quoted as saying on the front page of the student newspaper,

"Oh well, we may NOT be able to survive as a university past commencement and BY THE WAY, we don't need any community around our neighborhood to survive. Screw our neighbors, screw our commuter students, screw our shared history as serving our working class students. We need dorms and MORE DORMS and guess what we DON'T have to pay for it!" ??

Sunday, January 24, 2016

NEIU pays American Campus Communities $2.1 million in fees

Sharon Hahs and the NEIU administration has been talking up the new student housing coming to campus, now that the university prevailed in their bid to use eminent domain to evict our Bryn Mawr neighbors. 

Before they start earning fees for the management of the student housing complex, American Campus Communities Inc., NEIU's student housing contractor, will get $2.1 million in fees by Fall 2016 when the building opens (see the middle of the below image under "Contracted Projects In Progress"). They've already been paid $1.2 million. That's a wealth transfer from Bryn Mawr to Wall Street! 

ACC's "Supplemental Analyst Package," October 26, 2015, included in the company's most recent quarterly report to the SEC (

Victory for Corporate University!
On January 20th two important stories were released to the press from the NEIU administration. The first was a victory story. Patty Wetli in DNAChicago writes: “After a frequently contentious fight, Northeastern Illinois University has succeeded in its two-year-long bid to acquire properties on Bryn Mawr in order to build student housing, an effort that required NEIU to invoke eminent domain.” Earlier that day on January 20 President Hahs is quoted by Jodi Cohen in the Chicago Tribune:  “Northeastern Illinois University President Sharon Hahs said that while she anticipates completing the spring semester, "there is potential for our university to shut down" without an "adequate appropriation" soon.” 

It seems ironic, even quite serendipitous that these two events happened to be released to the press on the same day. Why do you ask? Why would the administration want our sympathies for the Illinois public funding for higher education that has been halted by Rauner’s budget stalemate in Springfield? Why would President Hahs publicly say such a thing to the Chicago press? What will happen to the shiny new dorms that are being built currently on university property? What will happen to the new Education building that is slated to be built sometime soon?

On January 20th a Targeted Announcement went out to the campus community through email, the SAME day these two pieces of newsworthy tidbits were released: “All students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends are invited to join us Tuesday, January 26, at 3 p.m. in Alumni Hall as we celebrate the naming of the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education and the kickoff to the Goodwin Gift Challenge.  Alumnis Daniel Goodwin issued this challenge: raise up to $500,000 for the NEIU Foundation in 2016, 2017 and 2018. If this is accomplished, he will give $500,000 to the newly named Daniel Goodwin College of Education.” All of this seems remarkably oddly timed for a university that may be shuttered after the spring semester.

Here we come back to the cunning wiles of the Wicked Witch of Bryn Mawr. She is very well versed by her expensive law firms, well paid public relations team, super well placed to use her power with the union and the Chicago public higher education lobby in Springfield. She is now the victim of Republican budget cuts and the champion of the working class students who are hurt by these cuts. She appears to the campus community as the one who is brave enough to utter the words, “the potential for our university to shut down,” and yet walking around NEIU last week after this press release there was not one shred of evidence that such a terrible thing could happen in less than three months. This is where it gets really interesting.

Why don’t staff and faculty talk about what’s happening at NEIU? Why don’t they meet and discuss the matters at hand? The entire block bulldozed down, more new student housing unveiled, the Decade of Dreams plan moving forward -- not exactly a crisis from the administration's perspective. But with the threat of closure, everyone is closemouthed, afraid to make eye contact. Do you want your students who are hoping to graduate soon that the Prez is talking about the potential of shutting down? Certainly not. Better to stay quiet and not become the next instructor whose classes are cancelled or contract not renewed.

Take Back NEIU has seen this series of events unravel in a short period of time. The current administration have created a crisis, justified massive restructuring which strips the faculty and staff of power, consolidating it at the top to ensure maximum efficiency and minimum resistance to the corporatization of NEIU, exemplified by the public-private partnership with dorm operators American Campus Communities Inc. (NYSE: ACC). Our Bryn Mawr neighbors, who in another era might remind us of the community that has always been at the heart of the true NEIU mission, were labeled "blight" by Sharon Hahs.

Take Back NEIU just received another all campus email yesterday, this one from the provost Dr. Helldobbler informing his colleagues “that renowned civil rights champion Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. will visit Northeastern Illinois University’s Main Campus on Monday, January 25 to address our University community. He will speak about the impact of the state budget impasse on higher education, and how this is affecting our students.”  So now we have the provost up on stage with Jesse Jackson looking like a freedom fighter? These branding experts they’ve hired are really quite skilled. This is basically the most well planned scam in higher education that has ever existed. Good work corporate university! I think we have finally seen everything. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

What's your favorite brand?

Our favorite brand is PUBLIC EDUCATION

What a wild and eventful year it has been for the administration at NEIU. First in June of 2015 Academic Affairs takes over Student Affairs, Academic Advising, The Learning Support Center, New Student and Family Programming/Placement and Testing, Project Success, Proyecto Pa'Lante, and TRIO in a desperate attempt to "retain" students. President Hahs writes in an email to the entire university community: 

“The Division of Student Affairs will report to Provost Helldobler until new leadership is secured. Daniel Lopez and Matt Specht will work closely with the Provost to continue the great work done by Student Affairs during the last four years. They will also meet regularly with my Vice Presidents Council.

As required by state law, I will be seeking approval from the Board of Trustees at its June meeting to secure the services of a search firm to help us identify the next vice president of Student Affairs through a national search. We will launch this search as soon as possible during the late summer or very early in the fall semester.

Additionally, I have chosen to reorganize the Division somewhat with certain units moving into Academic Affairs on a permanent basis. Beginning July 1, 2015 the following areas will move under the Provost's supervision: Academic Advising, The Learning Support Center, New Student and Family Programming/Placement and Testing, Project Success, Proyecto Pa’Lante, and TRIO. Given our challenges and concerns with respect to retention and graduation rates, I have asked the Provost to work closely with these units on these efforts, and expand some of the great work done by these programs across the University.” 

Then in October of 2015 President Hahs sends out an email informing the university community that the Marketing Department will also be under the direction of Provost Helldobler citing low enrollment as the reason.  

"As we continue our focus on growing enrollment, our student recruitment and marketing efforts will be even more critical. So, effective immediately, the marketing department -- led by Executive Director Mark LaCien -- will join the Division of Academic Affairs, with Mark reporting to Provost Richard Helldobler. This will allow the marketing and enrollment services teams to work within the same division; marketing will maintain linkages to Institutional Advancement to provide support for fundraising. "

Then in January of 2016 another email is sent out from Provost Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D. that states the Office of Cultural Events is going to be directly accountable to Academic Affairs as well. 

“I would like to make you aware of a recent structural change within the Division of Academic Affairs. The Office of Cultural Events, previously part of the College of Arts and Sciences, was incorporated into Academic Affairs reporting to the Provost on January 4.

The Office of Cultural Events produces the Jewel Box Series concerts, the Presidential Lecture Series, the English Department’s Visiting Writers Series and the annual Arts at NEIU brochure. The Office of Cultural Events also partners with many departments and programs across the University to plan and promote events.

This strategic change will more closely align our overall University branding and marketing efforts and increase our collective media buying power. Additionally, we will seek to connect this programming to recruitment opportunities. Through these efforts, we endeavor to recruit more students to Northeastern, and to share our rich cultural offerings with our surrounding communities.”

You may ask what is University branding? Well in the mass email there is a link to help the university understand what that means. This, dear colleagues and friends of TakeBackNEIU, is what a brand is according to Academic Affairs: 

“A brand establishes a first (and lasting) impression of a product, service or institution. Think of any successful clothing label, automotive company or higher education institution. They all have a unique, distinguishable mark and a set of attributes that differentiates them from competitors.

Brands often evoke an emotional response and an affinity with consumers. When you see a particular logo you may think of safety (Volvo), innovation (Apple) or quality healthcare (Mayo Clinic). A brand is conveyed through consistent visual, written and physical practices which means consistent logos, messages and delivery of services or products.”

There you have it laid out for you, NEIU is now controlled by executives in the same profit driven way that a successful clothing label or automotive company is. Would someone let these administrators and marketing scumbags know we are an Illinois state public university?

Here again directly from the university website, "branding" is defined for all the ignorant faculty and staff:

“Northeastern’s Brand: Quality academics, a diverse community, support services, affordable tuition, and global opportunities are among the attributes that define our unique brand.Northeastern’s Identity: Consistently and accurately using messaging themes and graphic elements underscores our distinctiveness and communicates our identity.Northeastern’s Logo: Recently, Northeastern Illinois University revamped its logo to reflect contemporary initiatives. The logo is our brand in a nutshell.”

There you have it "in a nutshell." Provost Richard Helldobler and President Sharon Hahs have successfully taken over the university in a stunning coup d'etat and the students, faculty and staff are thankfully secure and relieved! Meanwhile adjuncts are returning to teach in the spring without contracts, classes were cancelled over the break which are making it more difficult to graduate, and enrollment has dropped significantly from the fall. Take Back NEIU is wondering, how long will it be before the university community starts to notice that each time the administration takes over a department they are losing autonomy, integrity, shared governance, and academic freedom? 

Monday, December 21, 2015


Once again classes have been cancelled and new contracts hastily thrown together although the Provost Richard Helldobler, Ph.D has sent out a message of good holiday cheer. From published email:

"As we look to the Spring 2016 semester, please consider supporting the Ask Me! campaign. During the first week of classes, January 11-15, our new and continuing students will be encouraged to ask any questions they have wherever they see the Ask Me! logo displayed.
Your help is needed to staff resource tables, contribute your programs’ and services’ promotional materials for distribution to students and identify yourself as a resource to students by wearing a button with the Ask Me! logo."

Meanwhile more instructors classes are cancelled and the union continues to say,"It's obvious we want to save classes, that's how we help students graduate!" ASK ME how we feel about having our salaries be cut drastically, affecting health insurance costs? Well no surprise there. Health insurance for part time faculty continues to be out of reach. Better to pay the penalty than insure ourselves. 

 What's not obvious is that this university cares about part time instructors. It's hard not to be mad at UPI, but really the administration has made it more than clear how they feel about any faculty that aren't tenure track,"Take this semester, or else..." Or else what? That's what instructors are asking themselves. Still hoping there is some spark of solidarity to TAKE BACK NEIU.