Baker Report: Illuminating the Triangle

Sue Corrao and fellow 1965 Homecoming Court member Dennis Twitty help NIU ‘light the way’ during the nighttime parade.
Sue Corrao and fellow 1965 Homecoming Court member Dennis Twitty help the NIU community “light the way” during the nighttime parade.

Where were you in 1965?

If you were here on our DeKalb campus that fall, you probably were celebrating the dedication of Huskie Stadium and screaming through the first football game played – and, yes, the first NIU victory recorded – there. You probably cheered as Homecoming Queen Sue Corrao waved at you from her parade float.

And, if you were here last week, you probably experienced some déjà vu.

The thrilling “Huskies Light the Way” Homecoming celebration looked back a half-century ago while we looked forward to the next 50 years and more of NIU pride and excellence.

Sue returned to serve as grand marshal of the parade, this year’s edition held after dusk so that our community truly could “light up” the night. Coach Rod Carey and the 2015 Huskie football team earned a big win on the gridiron, topping Eastern Michigan 49-21. And that wasn’t the only fantastic show on Brigham Field: our Huskie Marching Band, Silverettes and cheerleaders entertained the crowd as they always do.

Outside the stadium, happy tailgate parties connected young and old – and even members of our community who aren’t alums but love and support this university.

For me, the entire week provided such joy as I witnessed heaping amounts of Huskie Pride.

Homecoming reminds us of the amazing things NIU and its alumni have accomplished since 1899, and reinforces what we are doing for the current generations and the ones coming in the future.

My busy calendar last week included an affirmational reception with faculty, staff and alumni of color. I also applauded this year’s honored faculty, staff and alumni of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, many of whom continue to make huge differences in the lives of today’s students.

President Baker chats with Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Famer Walt Owens, head coach of the Huskie baseball program from 1976-82, at a Homecoming reception for faculty, staff and alumni of color.
President Baker chats with Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Famer Walt Owens, head coach of the Huskie baseball program from 1976-82, during
a Homecoming reception for faculty, staff and alumni of color.

Best of all, we welcomed many of our successful and loyal alums back, offering them the “golden” opportunity to enjoy our campus again. More important was the chance to meet, and form mentoring relationships with, our current students.

At NIU, the chance for alumni and current students to interact – part of our strategic triangle model that connects students and faculty with alumni and stakeholders – is not limited to just one week or just one beautiful Saturday in October.

We actively and continually promote Student Career Success by pairing students with mentors who know what it takes to triumph in the world, who are eager to share that wisdom and who happily shepherd young people to those same heights.

We count on our alums to supply internships – knowing that those experiences are critical to a well-rounded education – and, ultimately, good jobs.

(They also appreciate our demonstrated commitment to internships with the recent appointments of Cathy Doederlein as director of Internships and External Relations in NIU Career Services and Chad Glover as director of Internship Design and Development in the Office of the Vice Provost.)

We are grateful for the generous financial contributions of our alumni and friends that enable sustained excellence in teaching and learning by creating and funding scholarships and endowing programs.

I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s celebration – and that your calendars are marked for next fall. The renewed assurance I’m feeling for our bright future is something you’ll want to share.

Go Huskies!

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