Supportive Professional Staff recognizes four with 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence

Four members of the Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) have been chosen to receive the university’s Presidential Awards for Excellence.

The recipients are Terry Borg, director of external programs in the College of Education; Rebekah Kohli, instructional technology assistant and program coordinator in the NIU Women’s Studies Program; Donna Schoenfeld, director of Health Enhancement; and Rachel Xidis, assistant director of Web Communications.

The quartet will be honored at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. The awards ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m. Each will receive a plaque and $1,500 in appreciation for their outstanding contributions to NIU.

Mike Stang, executive director of Housing and Dining, will receive the SPS Council Service Award.

Refreshments will be served, and the reception is open to all.

Terry Borg
Director of External Programs, College of Education

Terry Borg

Terry Borg

Who could run a first-time event, one that involved bringing 30 adolescents from South Korea to the United States for an entire summer, as if it had taken place for years?

Terry Borg, who joined the College in Education in 2005, is that one who “goes the extra mile to ensure students hear and understand the NIU message of opportunity and success.”

Borg met the teens at the airport, arranged their cultural and leisurely activities and negotiated the contract to provide formal English instruction.

It wasn’t Borg’s first experience with something new: in 2002, he brought the Illinois Global Economics and Finance High Schools program from concept to reality.

“He did whatever it required for the (South Korean) event to be successful,” said Lara Luetkehans, chair of the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment. “He has the unique ability to operate with both the big picture in mind and with exceptional follow-through on details.”

Colleagues praise his hard work, diligence, professionalism, knowledge and willing attitude.

After working full days, Borg is often known to accompany College of Education department chairs and academic advisers in traveling to school districts throughout the region. He stay until every student has had an opportunity to ask questions.

“Terry brings to any discussion both an understanding of big picture goals and a command of the details associated with implementation,” said Anne Kaplan, vice president of Outreach, Engagement, and Information Technologies. “This combination of a larger vision and a tidy mind is invaluable and rare.”

Rebekah Kohli
Instructional Technology Assistant and Program Coordinator, NIU Women’s Studies Program

Rebekah Kohli

Rebekah Kohli

Rebekah Kohli “is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Women’s Studies” at NIU.

So says Kristen Myers, the program’s director.

“Rebekah’s knowledge and professional skills were major reasons that I applied to become director of Women’s Studies,” Myers says. “I wanted to work with her, and I sensed that we could make an impact at NIU together.”

Kohli, who also advises the Women’s Rights Alliance on campus, plans events that leave participants “transformed” and “thinking differently about women, gender, bodies and violence.” Her coordination of Women’s History Month every year impacts several thousand attendees.

Colleagues praise her ability to “reach NIU students in their own language and on their own terms” as well as her “vision, energy, determination and enthusiasm.” Students say they are “endlessly inspired by her leadership,” gaining a “strong sense of camaraderie” from her passion and ideas.

Her organization of NIU’s annual Young Women’s Conference creates awareness among high school girls about gender issues and self-empowerment. She also guides Women’s Studies minors and contract majors on career choices and develops and teaches online courses.

Meanwhile, her involvement with an anti-violence consortium of faculty, staff and students works to change policies, create safe spaces and raise consciousness of violence and its prevention.

“She practices what she preaches, investing her valuable free time in ways that further the mission of NIU,” Myers says, “as well as furthering her own drive for social justice.”

Kohli, known for keeping projects under budget, is also responsible for the program’s major annual craft sale fundraiser.

Donna Schoenfeld
Director, Health Enhancement

Donna Schoenfeld

Donna Schoenfeld

Donna Schoenfeld has been a key player at NIU Health Enhancement since 2006, when she was challenged “to lead the department back to a position of national and campus leadership.”

In the years since, confronted with financial hardships and understaffing and always mindful of reviewing and developing Health Enhancement’s vision and mission to remain in harmony with the university’s, she has kept students as her top priority.

“Donna’s leadership has been a prime factor in our success,” said Steven Lux, senior health educator. “Donna has continued to be a strong advocate for student health generally and for the development of effective primary prevention interventions that address the most significant health obstacles to student academic success.”

Schoenfeld’s long list of contributions includes:

  • co-authoring and co-directing an NCAA CHOICES for Champions grant;
  • helping to write a policy statement on Sexual Assault, Prohibited Contact, Stalking, Dating and Domestic Violence, and the creation of the corresponding training plans and video; and
  • facilitating NIU’s Dialogue for Diversity, Race and Conflict.

The active member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators teaches an undergraduate class in NIU’s Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, speaks frequently on sexual assault prevention and bystander education, and serves as an Ally for the LGBT Resource Center.

Recent work includes collaboration with the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct to develop alternative dispute resolutions, particularly in the area of alcohol abuse and related campus violations.

She also leads the Bystander Education Initiative, promoting positive norms, values and behaviors.

Rachel Xidis
Assistant Director, Web Communications

Rachel Xidis

Rachel Xidis

Creating and maintaining websites takes patience, talent and hard work.

Rachel Xidis has all three and more, including mutli-tasking.

“Rachel manages several demanding, high-profile projects at any given time, and nothing falls through the cracks,” says Jennice O’Brien, director of Web Communications.

“She is my go-to person for everything,” O’Brien adds, “from creating a banner graphic for the NIU homepage to launching a mobile-friendly web page or an advertising campaign. If I delegate a project or a task to Rachel – no matter how big or small – I know it will be done correctly and quickly, and it will look great.”

When NIU launched the Web Communications office in 2010, it was Xidis who mentored her new colleagues on designing for the Internet rather than print. When President John Peters gives presentations, it is Xidis who is tapped to create the PowerPoint slides and later click through them as he speaks.

Xidis, who makes websites fresh, attractive and easy to navigate, bolsters NIU’s marketing efforts through constant web upkeep for the Office of Admissions and its recruitment goals. She also helped to roll out NIU’s new logo, creating the Graphic Standards website and bringing client websites into the new templates.

Colleagues praise her responsiveness and reliability.

“She is always willing to help and offers to use her professional skills in any way she can,” said Anne Hardy, director of the Scholarship Office. “She is a patient teacher with those who, like me, are not as savvy with technology as she is.”

Celebrating Excellence logoThis event is part of Celebrating Excellence at NIU, scheduled from Sunday, April 14, through Sunday, April 28. Celebrating Excellence highlights the accomplishments and contributions of NIU students, faculty, staff and alumni to the university’s mission of promoting excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service during the academic year.

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