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NIU alumni: University is prepared to address challenges

November 18, 2012

NIU Alumni Association president, Francine Pepitone  and NIU Foundation chair, Dennis Barsema submitted the letter below to the Chicago Tribune in response to the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday article about NIU’s presidential search.

Dear Editors:

In your recent wrap-up article that re-hashes challenges NIU is facing concerning its physical plant and police employees, you imagine a potential classified ad for future presidential candidates who will follow John Peters’ 13-year tenure as president. As members of the presidential search committee and leaders of NIU’s Alumni Association and Foundation, allow us to help you draft the ad.

We seek a leader with vision, courage, entrepreneurial spirit and good Midwestern common sense who will be attracted to a great public university located in one of the most vibrant, dynamic regions of the state and nation, a university that has seen tremendous growth in key areas.

There is no question about it. NIU will attract many very qualified candidates interested in leading a public university proud of its many recent accomplishments:

  • Rapid growth in private support from alumni and friends that has grown from a total of $35 million in the 1990s to more than $190 million since the year 2000.
  • An alumni base of 225,000+ contributing $8 billion a year to the Illinois economy with engagement efforts that bring 25,000+ alumni in personal contact with their alma mater each year.
  • 50,000+ alumni in decision making positions working/living in the Chicago loop and a list of corporate partners that reads like a who’s who of the Chicago business community.
  • Four major building projects on campus that have been funded through private donations from proud alumni since 2000.
  • A brand-new, state-of-the-art, 1,008-bed residence hall that represents the best combination of living space, privacy, amenities, and technology anywhere in the nation.
  • A rapidly growing Honors program attracting record numbers of high-achieving students.
  • Internationally acclaimed and nationally celebrated faculty who are teachers, scientists and artists. More than 35 have been named Fulbright scholars.
  • Ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s elite “National Universities” category; third in Illinois in the magazine’s High School Counselor Rankings of National Universities.
  • Nationally accredited programs in business, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and all teacher certification programs, among others that meet the highest standards of academic quality and rigor.
  • A major student-centered public research university serving a large, diverse, suburban and urban population located in the heart of northern Illinois, the most economically vibrant region in the state and the nation.
  • A top-notch athletics program that ranks with the best in the nation in graduation rates.
  • Oh, and the best college football team in Illinois.

Like any large institution, we have challenges we must address, and we are meeting those head-on. However, as the above indicates, we are confident that Northern Illinois University will have no difficulty in attracting top candidates to keep NIU moving forward.


Francine Pepitone, President, NIU Alumni Association

Dennis Barsema, Chair, NIU Foundation