Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker announced sweeping organizational changes designed to promote collaboration and integration within the academic and operational structures at the university.
“Over the past three months, I’ve found that NIU has many, many excellent and hard-working faculty and staff,” Baker said. “Yet, the structure of the institution – as is the case with many universities – has not fully facilitated the integration and collaboration critical to enhancing student learning outcomes in today’s global university.”
Restructuring is a necessary next step in improving student career success, Baker’s main area of focus in terms of NIU’s mission, and changes to the administrative structure will include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Creation of a new position, vice president for International Affairs;
- Restructuring the Division of Finance and Facilities into two areas: the Division of Administration, which will oversee human resources, facilities, risk management, compliance and other business operations, and the Division of Finance, which will be headed by a new chief financial officer;
- Moving the administration of the Convocation Center and Huskie Stadium to the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics;
- Renaming the Division of University Relations and integrating the university’s many division and college marketing, communications and branding activities;
- Hiring a new chief information officer to integrate the university’s numerous and dispersed information technology functions;
- Aligning the university’s outreach and engagement functions more closely with academic affairs;
Raymond Alden will serve as vice president of International Affairs, and he will work closely with each dean and vice president to further develop NIU as a truly global university. Baker views NIU’s proximity to Chicago, one of the most dynamic and vibrant areas of the country, as ideal to enhancing NIU’s international presence. Deborah Pierce has been named associate vice president of International Affairs.
“Dr. Alden has a successful history of leading international program initiatives that provide NIU with the necessary foundation to become a global university,” Baker said.
Alden is leading a delegation of NIU faculty and staff to China next week to discuss the potential for bringing Chinese students eager for an American higher educational experience to NIU.
Lisa Freeman, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies, will serve as the interim executive vice president and provost while a national search for an executive vice president and provost is undertaken in the near future. Dr. Freeman has expressed a desire to return to her position as vice president of Research and Graduate Studies at the conclusion of a successful search.
Steven D. Cunningham will continue to serve as vice president for Administration, overseeing human resources, facilities, risk management, compliance and other business operations.To address budgetary challenges, a separate structure, headed by a chief financial officer, will have oversight of NIU’s accounting, controller, budget, and institutional research functions. An interim CFO will be announced soon, and a national search will be initiated for that position
The Convocation Center and Huskie Stadium will be managed and operated by Athletics under the leadership of Sean Frazier, associate vice president and director of Athletics. Frazier has extensive experience managing the operations of the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Vice President Kathryn Buettner has been charged with working with the academic deans and vice presidents to develop a revised organizational structure that integrates the university’s many division and college marketing, communications and branding activities. Baker also announced the Division of University Relations was renamed the Division of Marketing and Communications to more accurately reflect its mission.
“The vast majority of university marketing efforts remain at the unit level and are uncoordinated from a central standpoint,” Baker said. “The goal is to integrate all of the university’s independent marketing and branding activity currently occurring within the divisions, colleges and departments to ensure NIU is maximizing its marketing potential.
“NIU no longer has the luxury of independently administered departmental communications programs,” Baker added. “We all need to be pulling together in the same direction and ensure that marketing, branding, and communications resources reach the areas where the potential for enrollment and impact is greatest.”
The Division of Information Technology Services will report directly to the president and will be headed by a new chief information officer. Dr. Anne Kaplan, vice president of Outreach and Engagement, has been tapped to chair the search committee for the new CIO.
“The goal is to integrate the university’s numerous information technology systems and components, along with the multitude of users and stakeholders throughout the university, to a point where software programs interact and can be compatible, thereby enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of data and information throughout the university,” Baker said. “The new CIO will hit the ground running in the effort to set up and create the university’s new data warehouse from the technical/ITS standpoint.”
The Division of Outreach and Engagement will continue its work and will work to align its units and program needs with the academic enterprise in DeKalb.
“Continued collaboration of these two divisions will be essential to student career success going forward,” Baker said.
Baker’s use of the terms “collaboration” and “integration” are taking on new meaning to faculty, staff and students at NIU. Eric Weldy, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management has been hard at work with academic leaders, marketing and communications, alumni, and athletics staff to develop and implement a plan to enhance student recruitment and retention.
Integration and collaboration has also been at the forefront of discussions Baker had with community leaders since April, when he was named president.
“DeKalb has the potential to become an even more vibrant college town,” Baker said. “It’s in the early stages of transformation, and if we continue to make this a priority, it will help NIU recruit and retain faculty, staff and students and enrich the community in the process.”
Baker has tasked F. William Nicklas, vice president for Public Safety and Community Relations, to work aggressively with community leaders to further develop the neighborhoods that surround the university, building stronger ties in the areas of housing, public safety, and economic development.
Baker noted a recent example of the success that enhanced collaboration brings to NIU and the DeKalb community. NIU filled its football stadium for the first time in over a decade versus Eastern Illinois University.
“Our excellent football team and the hard work of the Athletics Department, in collaboration with community and campus leaders, have helped build attendance,” said Baker, noting that attendance also increased through the collaboration of faculty and staff in athletics, marketing and communications, alumni, members of the DeKalb community, and NIU students as a result of the ‘Discovering Possibilities’ workshop.
“I want to extend my personal thanks to Student Association President Jack Barry and his leadership team, DeKalb Mayor John Rey and NIU faculty and staff for their willingness to partner together to achieve the goal of a sold out Huskie stadium,” Baker added. “Our students gained real life leadership experience as a result of this endeavor, and in the process we proved what we can do when we collaborate with a shared focus on student career success.”