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James E. Thompson gift establishes new professorship in marketing

April 9, 2015

Northern Illinois University is pleased to announce a major gift from longtime supporter James Thompson to establish the James E. Thompson Professorship in Marketing. Thompson, a 1967 marketing alumnus, served as executive vice president and managing director of the Leo Burnett Company.


NIU alumnus James Thompson (left) recently created the James E. Thompson Professorship in Marketing. With him is the first person to hold that position, long-time NIU Professor of Marketing Tim Aurand.

“The NIU College of Business was a pivotal experience for me back in the 1960s. It was a time, and a place, where I found my focus – and that was helped immeasurably by the content and teaching in the Department of Marketing and, especially, two men – Professor James Tushaus and Professor L. George Smith. Those fellows are long gone and probably little remembered. But they are remembered by me. Their influence was palpable. It’s their kind of teaching and mentorship that I wanted to support with this gift in the hope that faculty will strive to shape and prepare young professionals for careers and for life.”

Thompson’s gift will be used to establish a fund to help the NIU Department of Marketing recruit and retain excellent faculty. The professorship is used as salary enhancement and research support. The inaugural James E. Thompson Professor is Tim Aurand who serves as a professor of marketing. Aurand’s specialty is branding and the automotive industry. An award winning faculty member, he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in marketing.

“Being named the first James E. Thompson Professor of Marketing is truly an honor. I’m grateful to Mr. Thompson for having confidence and faith in my discipline,” said Aurand. “This professorship will allow me to devote more time to my research as well as help junior faculty with their scholarly pursuits and to bring those research results into the classroom.”

“Supporting faculty excellence is a top priority,” said Denise Schoenbachler, dean, NIU College of Business. “An innovative curriculum must incorporate a constant flow of new ideas grounded with what is occurring in the business community. Professorships, fellowships and chairs provide the resources that allow faculty like Tim Aurand, the James E. Thompson Professor, to pursue his research more aggressively.”

The NIU College of Business has 24 externally funded faculty positons.