Northern Illinois University names new president

CHICAGO (AP) — Northern Illinois University announced its new president on Tuesday, naming a University of Idaho administrator to the post.

NIU's board of trustees said during an afternoon meeting that Douglas Baker, the University of Idaho's provost and executive vice president, will become the DeKalb school's 12th president. Baker, 57, will replace John Peters, who announced in October that he planned to retire in June after 13 years leading the school.

Baker's appointment is effective July 1.

Baker has been at the Idaho school since 2005. He previously was at Washington State University, where he was vice-provost for academic affairs and the director of the Office of Undergraduate Affairs.

"Dr. Baker possesses a unique set of credentials, as an award-winning business professor, a skilled academic officer and a researcher who has studied university leadership and motivation," Cherilyn Murer, the Board of Trustees chair, said in a statement on the NIU website.

Baker said in a statement that he would build on the school's push to help students become successful in a "rapidly changing social and economic environment." By the fall, he said he would form working groups to address issues such as the needs of the area's employers.

"We spend a great deal of effort on recruitment of students, who spend a lot of money to get a degree," he said. "I want to make sure we are also doing all we can programmatically to make sure they find employment and are on a track to becoming lifelong learners."

Baker comes to a 25,000-student school that has been dogged by several scandals in recent months.

Last month, the FBI searched the school's police station with a warrant seeking, among other information, communications between the school's recently fired police chief and a vice president who took a leave of absence in response to the investigation. Earlier in the year a former NIU police officer was indicted on sexual assault charges and the police chief was fired, five years after he was hailed as a hero during the 2008 shooting on campus in which five students were shot to death before the gunman, a former NIU student, committed suicide.