While bitter cold grips our campus this week, my heart is warmed by several examples of the NIU Huskie spirit.
Of the sights – and often the silence – of our students taking final exams. Of a joyous and festive holiday luncheon enjoyed by our faculty, staff and annuitants. Of a Dec. 26 Poinsettia Bowl invitation accepted by our football team. Of a historic Heisman finalist selection for quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Most importantly, this week is transformational in the lives of 1,300 Huskies who will cross the Convocation Center stage Saturday and Sunday and receive their diplomas. This is our goal at NIU – to educate and prepare our students for their personal version of career success. I am so very proud of each and every one of these students who has persevered and is now poised on the threshold of new opportunities that a baccalaureate or a graduate degree brings.
This weekend’s commencement ceremonies also hold special significance for me, as they are my first as president of NIU.
Since arriving in DeKalb six months ago, Dana and I have been impressed by NIU students. They’re smart, hard-working, talented, committed to service, to social justice, to lifelong learning and to each other.
I’ve also been impressed by our alumni and their generosity with their time, their pride in their alma mater and their achievements since their own days students in DeKalb.
Come Monday morning, these 1,300 Huskies who are students today will join the ranks of NIU alumni. The NIU education they received has equipped them to think beyond traditional boundaries and provided them with the communication and critical thinking skills essential to succeed not only in the workplace but in life.
One of my most important goals as president of NIU is to provide alumni mentors to each of our students and to greatly expand student internship opportunities to position our students for career success.
We will be counting on these new graduates — and all of our other alumni — to further enhance the value of their NIU degree by sharing their time, talents and success with our current students.