It was a grand evening at Altgeld Hall as members of DeKalb’s business community and Northern Illinois University came together to honor small business leaders and NIU President John G. Peters at the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting Jan. 31.
NIU director of transportation Bill Finucane introduced President Peters, who received the Community Pride Award for his service to the local community over the past 13 years. “I’ve seen him meet informally with small groups of students and watched how it invigorates him,” Finucane said, commenting on his leadership style.
“Dr. Peters’ passion for the community and the university are evident in all that he has accomplished during his tenure at NIU,” said Wendy West-Krauch, the Chamber’s 2012 chairman of the board.
Matt Duffy, Chamber executive director, acknowledged Peters’ contributions on the national level, including his leadership roles with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
“He’s brought the university, the athletic department and even the City of DeKalb to national prominence,” said Duffy.
Each praised Peters’ leadership in the immediate aftermath of the February 14 tragedy in 2008 and in setting the course for the university’s future.
“Dr. Peters and Barbara are true Huskies and exemplify the spirit of NIU,” added West-Krauch. “DeKalb and NIU have a closer bond because of [President Peters’] commitment to bring together the city and university…DeKalb is a better place because of him!”
Peters indicated the feeling was mutual. “Barbara and I have been proud to call DeKalb our home for these last 13 years, and I am thrilled to receive this honor,” he said. “From the day we arrived we were made to feel welcome. In particular, we will never forget the way the community rallied to our support in our darkest days.”
Peters made community engagement one of the hallmarks of his time at NIU. During his tenure, the university has engaged in partnerships with local schools, helped bring fiber optic internet access to every school in the county and worked with the Chamber of Commerce and others to bring the high school football playoffs to DeKalb next year.
“While we may be the largest employer in the county, we have always understood that a strong and vibrant DeKalb is essential to the success of NIU,” Peters said.
“That’s absolutely something we’re really trying to focus on–the Chamber, the City of DeKalb, the university. All the moving parts are trying to focus on ways to work together,” Duffy continued. “We know that it’s a great relationship, so how can we make it better? How can we maximize resources on both sides of the equation?”
“We’re really trying to make those ties even stronger and maximize the great attributes that both sides bring to make DeKalb as great as we can make it,” Duffy concluded.