Baker Report: In support of faculty research, scholarship and artistry

Larissa Barber and Alecia Santuzzi
Larissa Barber and Alecia Santuzzi

With the arrival of warmer and momentarily quieter days on campus comes the opportunity to reflect on a year of outstanding research, scholarship and artistry at NIU.

The accomplishments of our faculty members resonate across the country and around the world, highlighting NIU’s strengths as an engaged, research-intensive institution. Stories that illuminate just some of the wonderful work of our colleagues are available online.

It is notable that a sampling of just some of the NIU faculty who gained national and international recognition this spring for their scholarship represents life and health sciences, social sciences, physical sciences and humanities:

  • Holly Jones, who holds a joint appointment at NIU with biological sciences and the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy, garnered global attention for her study on how native species responded to projects that eradicated invasive mammals from islands.
  • Lucy Bilaver, an assistant professor in our School of Nursing and Health Studies, helped to conduct research that determined that low-income families of children with food allergies spend 2.5 times more money on emergency room visits and hospitalization costs.
  • NIU psychology professors Larissa Barber and Alecia Santuzzi continued their groundbreaking exploration of the modern phenomenon they dubbed “telepressure.”
  • Zhili Xiao, an NIU Board of Trustees Professor in the Department of Physics, led a team of scientists working at Argonne National Laboratory in the creation of a new material called “rewritable magnetic charge ice.”
  • Poet Amy Newman, a Board of Trustees Professor in the NIU Department of English, received critical acclaim from David Kirby in the New York Times Book Review.

Needless to say, these headlines and more have come despite the challenges and uncertainty associated with the state budget impasse. We need to be intentional about dedicating resources to faculty efforts in research, scholarship and artistry despite the challenging environment, in order to sustain our institutional mission.

Restructuring and reengineering our budget processes and financial functions will help provide the stability and predictability needed to fund scholarship. This is a long-term effort, but one to which I am committed as a key element of faculty support.

Amy Newman
Amy Newman

I was also pleased to note that the recommendations arising from Program Prioritization indicated strong support for faculty scholarship. Broad recommendations made by the Academic Task Force advanced suggestions for strengthening NIU through investment in tenure-track faculty with active research agendas and encouragement of interdisciplinary collaboration. Key programs of the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships, including the Office of Innovation and Faculty Research and Development Support were recommended for enhancement by the Administrative Task Force.

I will work with Provost Lisa Freeman, VP Jerry Blazey and VP Al Phillips to shape these programs and to bolster our commitment to faculty. Details of our progress and future plans will be shared in an upcoming NIU Insider podcast.

The great work performed by NIU faculty is valued, both inside and outside the university community. This work advances positive social change and economic development and engages and inspires undergraduate and graduate students.

I applaud the work of our faculty that distinguishes our university and helps us fulfill our mission that is critically important for society.

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