In 1965, the changing nature of Illinois public higher education brought about a name change for its governing board: The Teachers College Board became the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities.
Yet NIU and other state universities could not help but notice the substantial advantages afforded to those universities with independent governing boards: the University of Illinois system and the Southern Illinois University system. In the earlier campaign that brought Northern its full university status and name, State Senator Dennis Collins and others had lobbied for independent governance for NIU.
While independent governance was not achieved for many more years, state higher education officials finally acknowledged that one large board for 10 very different universities was not optimal. Thus was created the “System of Systems,” in which NIU and ISU (and later Sangamon State/U of I – Springfield) were lumped together under a new governance structure called the Board of Regents. Beginning in 1967 and continuing on for nearly thirty years, higher education in Illinois operated under a four-system structure: The U of I system, the SIU system, the Board of Regents system, and the State Colleges and Universities System (later known as the Board of Governors system).