- The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees elected five new officers during its June 20 meeting, selecting John R. Butler as its new chair. Butler, who has served on the board since 2008, is a founding partner in the Chicago-based strategic consulting firm Butler & Anderson, LLC, and the director of Communication and Strategic Initiatives for the Aurora-based Painters District Council No. 30 organization — labor union, benefit funds, and training center for craftspeople in the finishing trades.
“This elected group of officers represents a unified board intent of moving forward in earnest to welcome a new president and honor the contributions of an outgoing president and the vision these leaders will and have crafted for the university,” said Chair Butler. “The board chair is the facilitator of board discussion and debate, and the custodian of the board agenda. This is a board of eight, and each of us is very enthusiastic about the future of NIU, and the leadership of a new president.”
Butler, vice chair of the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Personnel Committee, is a member of both the Finance, Facilities and Operations and Legislation, Audit, External Affairs and Compliance Committees. He also served two terms as Student Regent under NIU’s previous governing body, the Board of Regents, and spent seven years as an assistant professor and Director of Forensics in NIU’s Department of Communication.
Butler earned a bachelor’s in Political Science with a minor in Black Studies and master’s in Rhetorical Studies, both from NIU. He went on to earn his doctorate in Rhetoric and Communication with an emphasis in Public Argument at the University of Pittsburgh. His current work focuses on strategic planning and advocacy for large, multi-employer organizations such as labor unions, contractor associations, benefit funds and apprenticeship programs.
“I am honored to serve alongside such strong, talented and diverse board members, and their contributions and leadership are essential as we move forward with the aggressive goals we have set for Northern Illinois University,” Butler added.
Among those leaders are Marc J. Strauss, who was elected board vice chair; newly-elected board secretary Wheeler G. Coleman; 4th member of the executive committee Cherilyn G. Murer; and Robert T. Marshall Jr., who was re-elected as liaison to the Universities Civil Service Merit Board.
Strauss–who was elected board chair in 2009–joined the Foster & Buick Law Group in 2013 in an of counsel capacity after working 12 years as general counsel for First Rockford Group, a real estate company involved in the development and leasing of commercial, industrial and office space, as well as the development and sale of residential real estate. He was formerly a managing partner and attorney in law firms in Sycamore and Chicago. Strauss attended Northwestern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in management and a law degree. He has been active on numerous boards, commissions and task force groups in and around DeKalb, where he resides, and previously served as assistant city attorney for the City of Sycamore.
Coleman–who chairs the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Personnel Committee–was appointed to the board in December, 2011. He also sits on the Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee as well as the Legislation, Audit, External Affairs and Compliance Committee. Coleman graduated from NIU’s nationally-respected computer science program in 1983 with a degree in applied data processing and later earned an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. He currently holds the positions of senior vice president and chief technology officer for the Lifetime Healthcare Companies, parent company of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. He previously served as vice president and chief technology officer of Health Care Service Corporation, the fourth largest health insurance company in the United States and the nation’s largest customer-owned health insurer. Coleman has been a member of the NIU Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2010.
Murer—who twice served two-year terms as chair of the board (2007-9, 2011-13) is president and CEO of the Murer Group, a legal-based health care consulting group headquartered in Joliet. A former director of rehabilitation medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Murer and her colleagues now represent hospitals and health systems throughout the United States, providing strategic planning services and assistance in complying with complex state and federal regulations. The Homer Glen resident is an alumna of the NIU College of Law, serves on its Board of Visitors and in 2003 received the College’s Distinguished Alumnus award. She also is a member of the NIU Foundation Board of Directors and chairs that group’s development committee.
Now retired, Marshall started his career as a Chicago Public Schools teacher before moving into higher education at South Suburban College in South Holland, where he worked for three decades. First hired as a college counselor, he moved into various high-level administrative posts, including interim college president, vice president for student services and dean of students. Marshall earned both a bachelor’s degree in physical education and master’s degree in education, guidance and counseling from NIU and also holds a certificate of advanced study from Loyola University. A member of the NIU Alumni Association, Marshall has lent his time and expertise to his alma mater, serving as a member of the Strategic Plan Task Force, the February 14th Memorial Committee, the Presidential Teaching Professorship Awards Committee and the Vision 2020 Student Experience Work Group.