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Baker Report: Chicago – NIU’s kind of town

September 19, 2014
NIU President Doug Baker

NIU President Doug Baker

Members of the Northern Illinois University Sport Management Advisory Board, which includes alumni who work for many of Chicago’s professional sports teams, convened this morning at the United Center to discuss the direction of the program.

They also talked about opportunities for students to take advantage of the program that will help position them for career success.

Meetings like this that involve NIU and Chicago civic, educational and business leaders have become commonplace. While Chicago always has been a source of many of our students, as well as the metropolis where a large percentage of our alumni live and work, we are striving harder than ever to build our bridges and relationships in the Windy City. We are determined to be fully engaged in the life of the city and to address issues important to Chicagoans.

Consider that 128,000 alumni of record call the Chicago metropolitan area home – a tremendous built-in network for recruiting, mentorship and potential career opportunities. Our thriving Chicago-area alumni base includes a number of highly dedicated teachers, school counselors and administrators who work in Chicago Public Schools and at schools across the region.

On the innovation side, NIU has a role in the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, to be built at Chicago’s Goose Island. NIU is also an affiliate member of the Chicago Innovation Mentors, which provides volunteer mentoring for university researchers in the life sciences who are interested in creating startups based on their research.

NIU is also the only public university located outside of Chicago that is a member of the Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success, where Chicago-area universities share best practices to help students stay in college and succeed at the higher education level. NIU is actively involved with the Chicago-based 1871 incubator for entrepreneurs; “The Remember Project,” which came about through NIU student efforts to address issues vital to the future of Chicago, is also a participant.

Victor E. Huskie visits the Windy City!We continue to build relationships with our Chicagoland community college partners to ease the transition to our university for these students and strengthen the pipeline to a quality NIU education. We also need to strengthen our pipeline for new freshmen.

Everyone has a role – faculty, staff and alumni – and we will need help.

This week, we opened a request for proposal seeking a public relations counsel to represent the university in our efforts to accelerate the growth of our footprint in Chicago. Having PR support “on the ground” will enhance our ability to tell our story via the media and directly to opinion leaders in all walks of life in Chicago. It also creates greater awareness of our value proposition among prospective students and their parents.

These and other initiatives will contribute to our playing an even greater role in the future of Chicago and the region, and position NIU as a truly great Chicago-area public university.

Go Huskies!