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Honors’ Joanne Ganshirt given inaugural award bearing her name at program’s alumni event

May 9, 2012
Joanne Ganshirt

Joanne Ganshirt

With the NIU Honors Program moving into the new residence hall, program alumni were invited April 28 to pay the Douglas Hall honors floors one last visit as part of a “Saturday with the Honors Alumni Council.”

The event was followed by an awards celebration honoring office manager Joanne Ganshirt for 25 years outstanding service to University Honors.

Members of the Honors Alumni Council of the NIU Alumni Association hosted the event.  Alumni had the opportunity to meet current honors students, enjoy pictures of Douglas Hall through the ages and view the plans for the new residence hall.

“I think the honors floors have been a vital part of the Honors Program because we’ve had students who’ve met and married from the honors floors. We’ve had people who’ve become life-long friends living on the honors floors,” Ganshirt says. “It’s given them a lot of social experiences, interactions that maybe they hadn’t had in the past.”

Laura Miller is a 1993 graduate with a degree in business management who attended the event. She lived in Douglas Hall from 1989-91 and was a residence hall adviser on C1 for a year. She says she met her future husband on her first day on the honors floor.

“For my husband and me, it’s very exciting to be here because we talk about what we did, where we ate. It feels really good to be back. It’s fun to look around.”

Christopher Jones, associate vice provost for University Honors, says the farewell to Douglas was a great way for alumni to get one last look at their old digs while creating an opportunity for current students to network with them.

“We have a lot of students who are uneasy about the job market and about what the future holds for them, and I think alums can put them at ease and say, ‘I remember being where you are,’ ” he says.

Despite the memories and the community that has thrived at Douglas Hall, those associated with the University Honors Program are excited by the opportunities that the new residence hall provides.

“Douglas Hall is an old residence hall. It’s been here for almost forever, and so in order to keep the honors program growing and improving, I think moving to the new space will be really beneficial,” Ganshirt says. “I think our students are really going to get a lot out of it, and hopefully we’ll be able to continue that community atmosphere in a bigger and better way.”

Following the farewell to Douglas, Ganshirt was presented with the inaugural Joanne Ganshirt Award for Outstanding Service to University Honors.

“We’re very excited to establish the Joanne Ganshirt Award for outstanding service to University Honors,” Jones says. “We’re recognizing Joanne’s incredible hard work, her dedication and her spirit of commitment to honors students. She’s really the lifeblood of the program.”

With 25 years serving the University Honors Program, Ganshirt assisted eight directors, supported hundreds of faculty and served thousands of students over the course of her impressive career. In 2000, she received NIU’s Outstanding Service Award for her dedication and significant contributions to the university community.