Regulations: Section VII - NIU - Board of Trustees

Regulations of the Board of Trustees


Subsection A.   Legislative Affairs (Governmental Relations)

Subsection B.   Collective Bargaining

Subsection C.   Freedom of Information Act

Subsection D.   Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Compliance

Subsection E.   Legal Representation and Indemnification

Subsection F.   Legal Proceedings and Actions


Subsection A.  Legislative Affairs (Governmental Relations)


In furtherance of its role as the governance body for Northern Illinois University, the Board of Trustees is desirous of participating in those legislative matters affecting the university and Illinois higher education.

a.  Review

Proposed or pending legislation shall be reviewed by the president and the president's staff.

b.  Representation

No person shall take any position on behalf of the Board of Trustees in any legislation proposed or pending in the General Assembly without prior authorization of the Board of Trustees or the president.

c.  Report

The president shall periodically report to the Board on the status of pending legislation.


Subsection B.  Collective Bargaining


The Board of Trustees is the employer, as defined in the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, of all employees of Northern Illinois University. Only the Board may act with regard to the rights and responsibilities established by that Act. The Board may delegate authority to negotiate with employee organizations. No collective bargaining agreement shall be effective or implemented until approved by the Board of Trustees, signed by the Board chair or an authorized designee and signed by the employee organizations' authorized representative(s). Upon official certification by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, any substantive or procedural rights or privileges as set forth in any applicable provisions of the university system of shared governance shall immediately become subject to negotiation for positions and employees contained within the scope of exclusive representation pursuant to the certified bargaining unit description. Such rights and privileges shall not be maintained except to the extent negotiated and fully ratified within the scope of a collective bargaining agreement.

All notifications and correspondence required by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act shall be directed to the President's Office or designee.


Employee organizations as defined by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act shall have access to the campus facilities subject to such reasonable limitations necessary for orderly operation as established by the university. Employee organizations may use the campus mail service for the distribution of literature pursuant to Board Regulations and university policy and subject to the first priority use by U.S. mail and official university mail. Employee organizations may contact employees on campus at times when employees are not working but shall respect the request of any employee who does not desire to participate in or be exposed to such contact.


Subsection C.  Freedom of Information Act


Requests to inspect or copy “public records,” as defined by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act shall be in writing and shall identify the requester by name, address and organization, if any.  The request shall identify the records requested as specifically as possible.  The request shall specify whether the request is for the inspection and copying of the records or for the copies of the records only.  If certified copies are required, the request shall so state.


Requests for information concerning records of Northern Illinois University or the Board of Trustees shall be submitted to the following address:

Freedom of Information Act Request
Northern Illinois University
Office of University Legal Services
Altgeld Hall 330
DeKalb, IL  60115

Requests shall be received at the date and time that the request is received at the specified address.  Failure to submit the request to the appropriate address may cause a delay in receipt of the request.  All formal requests for inspection and copying of records received by NIU employees shall be immediately forwarded to University Legal Services.


The General Counsel, or designee, as the institution’s duly designated Freedom of Information officer, shall review and act upon requests in consultation with relevant divisional record disclosure administrators.  Noteworthy requests may be brought to the attention of university administrators, the president and the Chair of the Board of Trustees.  So long as it is not a request for a commercial purpose, the requester shall normally be notified in writing that the request has been approved, denied or extended within 5 university business days after its receipt by the FOI officer, or designee, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.  A failure to comply with a written request, extend the time for response, or deny a request within five (5) university business days after its receipt will be considered a denial of the request, so long as the request is not for a commercial purpose.

a.  Extension of Time

Response to a request may be extended for not more than 5 university business days from the original due date for any of the reasons outlined within the Act.  In the event of an extension, the requester will normally receive written notice within 5 university business days from the date of the request indicating the reason for the extension and the date by which the response to the request will be forthcoming.  The person making the request and the  FOI officer, or designee, may agree in writing to extend the time for compliance for a period to be determined by the parties.

b.  Approval of Request

The approval of a request for inspection shall identify the documents determined to be in response to the request and the approximate number of pages involved.  The approval of a request for copies shall identify the documents, the exact number of pages and the fee for copying, postage and certification, if certified copies are requested.  When a person requests a copy of a record maintained in an electronic format, NIU will furnish it in the electronic format specified by the requester, if feasible.  If not feasible, NIU will furnish the record in the format which it is maintained at NIU, or in paper format, at the option of the requester.

c.  Denials of Requests

When NIU denies a request for public records, it will notify the requester in writing of the decision to deny the request, the reasons for the denial, including a reasonably detailed factual basis for the application of any exemption claimed, and the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial.  Each notice of denial will also inform such person of the right to request a decision review by the Public Access Counselor and provide the address and phone number for the Public Access Counselor.  Each notice of denial shall inform such person of his/her right to seek judicial review under the Freedom of Information Act.  Copies of all notices of denial will be retained in a single central office file maintained by the FOI officer that is open to the public and indexed according to the type of exemption asserted and, to the extent feasible, according to the types of records requested.

In the event that a request would be denied as being “unduly burdensome,” NIU will extend to the requester an opportunity to confer with the FOI officer, or designee, in an attempt to clarify or reduce the request to manageable proportions.  Repeated requests from the same person for the same records that are unchanged or identical to records previously provided or properly denied shall be deemed unduly burdensome, pursuant to the Act.

When NIU asserts that the requested records are exempt under subsection (1)(c) or (1)(f) of Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, it will, within the time periods provided for responding to a request, provide written notice to the requester and the Public Access Counselor of its intent to deny the request in whole or in part.  Upon receipt of a notice of intent to deny access, the Public Access Counselor shall determine whether further inquiry is warranted and notify NIU and the requester of this determination normally within 5 working days after receipt of the notice of intent to deny.  If the Public Access Counselor determines that further inquiry is warranted, the time periods for a response of compliance by NIU will be tolled until the Public Access Counselor concludes his or her inquiry.  Such further inquiry will be carried out according to the procedures set forth within the Freedom of Information Act.

c.  Requests for Commercial Purposes

NIU shall respond to a request for records to be used for a commercial purpose within 21 university working days after receipt.  The response will: (1)  provide to the requester an estimate of the time required by the public body to provide the records requested and an estimate of the fees to be charged, which NIU may require the requester to pay in full before copying the requested documents; (2) deny the request pursuant to one or more of the exemptions set out in the Act; (3) notify the requester that the request is unduly burdensome and extend an opportunity to the requester to attempt to clarify or reduce the request to manageable portions, or (4) provide the records requested.

Unless the records requested for a commercial purpose are exempt from disclosure, NIU will comply with the request within a reasonable period considering the size and complexity of the request, and giving priority to records requests for non-commercial purposes.  It is a violation of the Freedom of Information Act for a person to knowingly obtain a public record for a commercial purpose without disclosing that it is for a commercial purpose, if requested to do so by NIU officials.


The approval of a request for inspection shall inform the requester where the information will be available for inspection.  The approval of a request for copies or records stored in an electronic format will inform the requester that upon receipt of the appropriate fee, if applicable, the material will be mailed or available for pick-up at a specific place.  Information will be made available for 14 university business days after the mailing of the approval.


No fees will be charged for the first 50 pages of black and white, letter or legal sized copies sought by a requester. After this threshold, the cost for copies of black and white, letter or legal sized records which can be readily made on available equipment shall not exceed 15 cents per page.  If NIU provides copies in color or in a size other than letter or legal, NIU will charge the actual cost for reproducing the records; excluding the costs of any search for and review of the records or other personnel costs associated with reproducing the records.  Copies which cannot be made on available equipment will be photocopied through a commercial photocopy service at the cost charged by the service.  The cost for the mailing of photocopies will be the actual postage. The fee for certification is one dollar per document or set of documents.  If NIU furnishes a record in an electronic format, NIU will charge the requester for the actual cost of purchasing the recording medium, whether disc, diskette, tape or other medium upon which the record is delivered.  NIU will not charge the requester for the costs of any search for and review of the records or other personnel costs associated with reproducing the electronic records.

Documents shall be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge, as determined by NIU, if the person requesting the documents states the specific purpose for the request and indicates that a waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest.  Waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest if the principal purpose of the request is to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety, and welfare or the legal rights of the general public and is not for the principal purpose of personal or commercial benefit, as defined by the Act.

In the event that NIU fails to respond to a request within the requisite periods in the Act but thereafter provides the requester with copies of the requested records, NIU is prohibited at that point from imposing any fees for such copies.


A person whose request to inspect or copy a public record is denied may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the Attorney General not later than 60 days after the date of the final denial.  Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access Counselor shall determine whether further action is warranted.  The Public Access Counselor may determine that any alleged violation of the Act is unfounded, upon which no further action will be taken.  In all other cases, the procedures for such review as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act, as amended, will be followed.  Pursuant to those procedures, the Attorney General is required to issue to the requester and NIU a binding opinion in response to the request for review as to whether a violation of the Freedom of Information Act has occurred.  The Attorney General is also afforded the discretion to choose to resolve the request for review by mediation or by a means other than the issuance of a binding opinion. 


Subsection D.  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Compliance

  1. General 

    This statement of policy relates to administration and protection of certain protected health information coming into possession of individuals and business affiliates performing official functions on behalf of components of the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University.  This policy statement is intended to facilitate and foster Board of Trustees and institutional compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"), Public Law 104‑191, including applicable amendments and related implementing regulations of responsible agencies, as may be applicable to a university of the State of Illinois.

  2. University Privacy Officer 

    The President of Northern Illinois University shall designate an appropriately qualified member of the university staff to serve as University Privacy Officer to assist the President with responsibilities associated with interpreting and administering privacy standards for the University, including those for protected health information.

  3. Delegation of Authority

    As necessary and appropriate consistent with applicable law and regulations, the President of Northern Illinois University, or designee, is delegated authority to develop, adopt and arrange publication of appropriate internal procedures to maintain continuing compliance with applicable federal and state standards concerning matters related to privacy of information, including protected health information of students, employees and other individuals.

    Concerning protected health information, administration of such procedures will require all university units that maintain or transmit such health information to utilize reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical and physical safeguards:

    1. To ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the information;

    2. To protect against any reasonably anticipated
      1. threats or hazards to the security or integrity of the information; and
      2. unauthorized uses or disclosures of the information; and

    3. Otherwise to ensure compliance with applicable privacy law standards by the officers and employees of the Board of Trustees.



Subsection E.  Legal Representation and Indemnification


    The Board of Trustees shall provide legal representation and indemnification for a claim or action instituted against a Trustee, a former Trustee, an employee of the Board of Trustees, former employee, or estate of such person which is based upon damage or injury allegedly arising from an act or omission occurring within the scope of duties on behalf of the Board of Trustees. Upon timely request of the person or the person's estate, the Board shall determine the appropriateness of providing counsel for the defense of the claim or action and indemnification for actual costs incurred as a result of such claim or action. The Board of Trustees shall provide such defense and indemnification upon a determination that the individual has acted in good faith, without malice, and within the apparent scope of his or her authority. The Board of Trustees shall not provide indemnification for a claim or action which is the result of intentional or willful and wanton misconduct. Legal representation and indemnification is subject to the Representation and Indemnification of State Employees Act and other applicable laws.

    Duly authorized volunteers shall be afforded indemnification protection consistent with this section and other applicable State law. 


Subsection F.  Legal Proceedings and Actions


    For legal matters involving (a) relatively routine collection matters or (b) forcible entry and detainer actions when any tenant of a university facility fails to abide by the terms of the lease due to nonpayment of rent or otherwise, instituted by the university involving less than $250,000, the Board of Trustees delegates authority to the president or appropriate designee to initiate and resolve proceedings on behalf of the Board of Trustees in appropriate courts or other suitable forums to enforce, collect or protect legal interests of the Board and the university.  Where a cross-claim or counterclaim is raised in a collection case, the Board Chair shall be promptly consulted on the matter.