Baker Report: Recognizing NIU quality

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti visits with an NIU student.
Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti visits with an NIU student.

The past two weeks have been filled with important activity at Northern Illinois University.

We’ve hosted visitors from Springfield and Washington including Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti. We also sent student leaders to attend a House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee hearing. The officials were impressed by not only the quality of our students, faculty and staff, but their ideas.

As we quickly approach the end of another academic year, the NIU community recognizes the many contributions of these and others in our university community.

On Monday, we recognized our most prestigious faculty with an awards ceremony and reception. The awardees included Board of Trustees Professor John Skowronski (Psychology); Presidential Research Professors Sanjib Basu (Statistics), Anne Britt (Psychology) and Aaron Fogleman (History); Presidential Teaching Professors Jim Schmidt (History) and Gulsat Aygen (English); Presidential Engagement Professors Judy Ledgerwood (Anthropology) and Kurt Thurmaier (Public Administration); Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award winners Steve Daskal (Philosophy), Amanda Durik (Psychology) and James Horn (Chemistry/Biochemistry); and Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction Award winner Timothy Dimond in Accountancy.

On Tuesday, nine employees and an association were recognized for their work above and beyond the duties described in their job descriptions at the Supportive Professional Staff Awards. It was my privilege to present the SPS Presidential Awards for Excellence to Patricia Anderson, Ben Bingle, Betsy Hull and Jennifer Kirker Priest. Congratulations to SPS Award for Excellence in Supervision winner Marilyn Bellert, to Roger Maas for his work in institutional advancement, to Laura Sala in receiving the award for advocacy, to SPS Award for Cultural Competency winner Deborah Pierce and to SPS Council Service Award winner Melissa Burlingame. Thanks also to the NIU Annuitants Association, winner of the SPS Award for Partnership and Collaboration, for all its work in advocating for annuitants and employees alike on issues important to these stakeholders.

Each of these people and many more are very important to the success of our collaborative triangle strategy that connects students and academics to the world through teaching and learning, research and engagement and supporting services that enable these activities.

Roosevelt Griffin (top right) is suprised in his classroom.
Roosevelt Griffin (top right) is suprised in his classroom.

These activities prepare our graduates for personal and career success, and each year we recognize these successes at the NIU Alumni Association Awards. Congratulations to Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner Somya Munjal, CEO of Youthful Savings; Nancy Castle, director of the NIU Center for Non-Governmental Organization Leadership and Development, who won the F.R. Geigle Service Award; and Distinguished Alumni Award winner John C. Landgraf, executive vice president, Nutritional Products, at Abbott Laboratories.

Each college is represented at a dinner tonight for the Outstanding College Alumni Awards. These include the following:

  • William E. Taylor, College of Business
  • Yvonne A. Johnson, College of Education
  • Carlos Fulcher, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
  • Jane E. Lux, College of Health and Human Sciences
  • Richard F. Bales, College of Law
  • Bob Kornecki, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Roosevelt Griffin III, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Congratulations to each award winner and for those to be recognized in the coming week as part of Sunday’s University Honors Day and other events as we celebrate excellence at NIU throughout April and May. These recognition ceremonies, along with events such as NIU Cares Day and Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day, showcase the university’s commitment to its core values and honor excellence in the fulfillment of our mission.

While the university faces significant external challenges, it is comforting to know that we possess the talent, creativity, leadership and passion to succeed daily in living our mission and realizing our keystone goal of student career success.

Forward Together,

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