As more students express an interest in participating in the NIU Honors Program, a substantial financial gift to the program by two NIU alumni should help foster future opportunities for students engaged in honors studies.
Three years ago, Earl and Cindi Rachowicz of Evanston designated the University Honors Program as the recipient of a $50,000 matching gift.
The Rachowicz Giving Challenge involves a pledge from Mr. and Mrs. Rachowicz to match any new or increased financial gift to the Honors Program up to $10,000 per year for a period of five years.
The gift was announced in 2011 at an event held for Honors alumni and prospective students at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. The Rachowiczes recently returned to campus to learn more about how their gift is being used and to underscore their support for the program and rally other alumni to the cause.
“Both Cindi and I have very fond memories of the Honors Program from our time as students at Northern,” said Earl Rachowicz, who graduated from NIU in 1973 with a degree in accountancy. Cindi also graduated in 1973 with her degree in business education. “We’ve contributed to the accountancy program and the music program over the years, and we feel it’s still the right time to do something significant for Honors.”
The University Honors Program has grown over the last several years and its enrollment now stands at 1,050 students.
J.D. Bowers, associate vice provost for University Honors, believes the Rachowicz gift will not only help facilitate planned expansion of the program but will also encourage additional financial support from NIU alumni and supporters of the university’s honors initiatives.
“NIU is committed to improving academic opportunities and special programming for our honors students,” Bowers said. “The Rachowiczes’ generous gift will help to perpetuate the mission of the University Honors Program and hopefully will inspire others to consider contributing their support to providing the best possible academic opportunities to students here at NIU.”
The Honors Program has been growing and changing by leaps and bounds.
University Honors students now have priority registration, extended library borrowing privileges, unique research and scholarship opportunities, exclusive course offerings with enrollments capped at 20 students, a living-learning community in New Residence Hall and even Honors-only study abroad opportunities in the Netherlands and Montreal.
“The ‘Honors Advantage’ is based on providing exceptional opportunities in all areas of the University Honors program and with as much support as possible,” Bowers said. “That’s what the Rachowiczes’ gift provides.”
Earl Rachowicz acknowledges that exciting things are happening for the NIU program, and he hopes it gets more people involved in supporting honors students. “Whether it’s small dollars or big dollars we just want to get people motivated to help outstanding students at NIU.”
Bowers said that the university will reach out to alumni and friends of the University Honors Program starting this month, and the program will extend its outreach throughout the academic year.
Up first is a special event for the program’s alumni to be held during Homecoming – “University Honors Alumni College” – that will allow the program’s graduates to come back and experience, if just for a little while, what it is like to be an NIU student all over again.
Homecoming is scheduled from Sunday, Oct. 6, through Saturday, Oct. 12.
Alumni who want to attend can contact the University Honors Program by email at [email protected], by phone at (815) 753-0694 or by returning the registration slips that they will soon find in their mailboxes or email in-boxes.