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Baker Report: Working together toward a thriving community

June 13, 2014
Douglas D. Baker

Douglas D. Baker

During Monday evening’s DeKalb City Council meeting, aldermen approved a five year agreement for the city to provide fire protection services to the university. As part of the agreement, NIU is contributing $275,000 towards the purchase of an aerial ladder truck. This agreement illustrates — as did the recent full scale emergency safety exercise and Torch Run events — the spirit of cooperation that exists between the university and the community we call our home.

In that spirit, I would like to share the following comments from DeKalb Mayor John Rey during our May 29 Board of Trustees meeting:

Greetings from the City of DeKalb.

I want to thank you for your consideration of the Fire Services Contract with the City of DeKalb. Fire Chief Eric Hicks is present this morning to address specific questions you may have on this contract and these services.

Also, thank you for your consideration of the first phase of the Huskie Tram route which will provide students with transportation services, avoiding the need to drive everywhere on campus. It will encourage staged parking of vehicles on west campus and use of more efficient transport to classroom facilities.

My purpose this morning is to support the Bold Futures initiative conducted this past year. I participated in several of the workshop opportunities and found the communication throughout campus and community to be rewarding. As we work together to strengthen the campus and community relationships, especially where there is connectivity with the City Center plan, I find Dr. Baker to be open, transparent and very genuine, bringing constructive people into dialogue with the purpose of formulating ideas for consideration.

As we look to move into the future, making NIU and the greater DeKalb community safe and attractive to students and residents- it is important that we work together and embrace those areas where we can bring meaningful and productive change that will contribute to the overall atmosphere, while preserving the historic character of the neighborhoods.

I am open to communication among various groups within the campus and community, while working to engage private investors in the growth of the community.

My goals include:

  1. Keeping stakeholders informed;
  2. Improving the tax base and quality of life;
  3. Engaging private interests in investment in DeKalb.
John Rey

John Rey

I believe we can work together with the public and private interests across the community with cooperation. I appreciate your support from the Board of Trustees and look forward to continued work with President Baker as we move into the future.

I want to end with a story, including reflection on the trip to Moscow, Idaho last fall during which President Baker hosted me to see many of the relationships and projects between University of Idaho and the City of Moscow.

What I learned quickly was Doug’s congeniality relating to many people in that setting- including university cabinet members, faculty and townspeople at the Farmers’ Market. The town council and staff represented a “Can do” attitude; a vibrancy of working together with shared resources being brought to many activities that overlap university and community; and community values represented in those projects that were thriving, improving the quality of life for residents. Linkages in neighborhoods transformed some idle grain elevators into a corridor, attracting students from campus into the downtown area.

We have seen examples of other campus towns where such transformation has been successfully implemented.

Doug and I have been collaborating and I see results of a positive nature, building trust and communication with various community members.

I am confident we will see growth in the DeKalb community, as people choose to come and invest in our community. NIU is major player in the local economy and we are pleased to work with your cooperation and leadership to move us through opportunities making this a better place to live. We will survive growing pains as we work together into the future.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak this morning.

These are exciting times. I’m looking forward to continuing to work together with Mayor Rey and other community partners to make DeKalb, Sycamore, the broader county and our campus a more vibrant, inviting college environment.

Forward together,