New appointments this fall in two key areas under the Office of the Provost are making an immediate impact on the academic success of NIU students.
Associate Vice Provost for Engaged Learning Renique Kersh and Joel Stafstrom, acting director of the University Honors Program, started their new roles late this summer.
“Renique and Joel are two very talented and dedicated leaders,” said Vice Provost Anne Birberick. “Their outstanding credentials and backgrounds in coordinating student leadership programs and learning opportunities are well suited to direct two important areas that highlight student achievement at NIU.”
Along with her duties as associate vice provost, Kersh will also direct NIU’s Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, which provides undergraduate students opportunities to engage in hands-on learning both in and outside the classroom.
“NIU’s dedication to undergraduate research, themed learning communities, service projects and other high-impact endeavors creates an enriching and exciting environment for our students and for our faculty,” Kersh said. “We have a great staff and great students who are committed to helping the university develop and sustain programming that leads to student academic success.”
Kersh comes to NIU from North Central College in Naperville, where she taught courses on leadership and coordinated co-curricular programming. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Oakland University, a master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland and has a Ph.D. in community health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Stafstrom brings 25 years of teaching experience as faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences at NIU to his new leadership role with the University Honors Program. He has been affiliated with University Honors for much of his time at NIU, having been a member and chair of the Honors committee among other activities and initiatives associated with the program.
“The University Honors Program is built on three pillars: tradition, excellence and community,” Stafstrom said. “It is my strong intention to continue to strengthen the program in all of these areas, and I’m really excited to be able to work directly with bright, hardworking and highly engaged honors students.”
Stafstrom received his Ph.D. in molecular, cellular and development biology from the University of Colorado and has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Dartmouth College.
“NIU’s commitment to student career success emphasizes experiential learning,” said Lisa Freeman, executive vice president and provost. “The university is fortunate to have Dr. Kersh and Dr. Stafstrom encouraging NIU students to pursue undergraduate research, service learning and internships and building communities of undergraduate scholars.”