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NIU remembers James D. Norris

January 18, 2013
James D. Norris

James D. Norris

James D. Norris, who served Northern Illinois University for more than two decades as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and emeritus professor, died Wednesday, Jan. 16. He was 82.

Norris came to NIU in 1979. Leading the largest college at the university, he was instrumental in creating several new academic units, such as Computer Science, Statistics, Women’s Studies, Social Science Research and the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

“Dr. Norris was a devoted faculty member,” said Chris McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at NIU. “That perspective guided all of his decisions, informed his leadership style and earned him the reputation as a fair, collegial and transparent administrator and colleague.”

Arnold Hampel, Distinguished Research Professor and Emeritus Professor at NIU, spoke recalls the impact Norris had on his career.

“He was truly like a loving professional father to me throughout my career at Northern,” Hampel said. “Without his direct involvement, on two occasions during the highest and lowest points of my career, I would have left Northern. I would not have had the success I had without his pragmatic leadership based on insightful clarity of vision and unfettered willingness to act completely free of political implications.”

Norris officially retired from NIU in 2000, having served as executive secretary of the University Council and president of the Faculty Senate during his tenure.

“On earth his life was that of an angel sent from heaven, and now heaven has called him back,” Hampel said.