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Baker Report: New Board Members Appointed

January 24, 2017

The terms for four NIU trustees expired last week. To fill those roles, Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed three new trustees and reappointed one sitting trustee.

Joining the board is Dennis Barsema, a graduate of the NIU College of Business. Mr. Barsema and his wife, Stacey, have contributed a great deal of time and resources to NIU. Among their contributions are funding the construction of the College of Business, being lead supporters for construction of the alumni center, and creating several scholarships in the College of Business. Both have served on the NIU Foundation Board, which Dennis recently chaired. Following a very successful business career, Mr. Barsema returned to the NIU College of Business to teach entrepreneurship.

Eric Wasowicz also comes to the board with extensive NIU experience. He graduated from NIU in 1980 with a degree in computer science and went on to cofound Greenbrier & Russel, a business and technology services firm specializing in business intelligence, enterprise solutions and advanced technologies. He served as its co-CEO until G&R was acquired by Fujitsu Consulting in 2006. In 2014, he also returned to NIU to teach entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

We also greet Veronica Herrero, chief program officer at One Million Degrees, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to providing comprehensive support to low-income, highly motivated community college students. Ms. Herrero, who holds a degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the University of Chicago, leads scholar development programs and external partnership strategy.

The governor also reappointed Tim Struthers to the board. Mr. Struthers, who holds both a degree in finance and an MBA from NIU, serves as the president of First National Bank in DeKalb and was originally named to the board in 2015 to fill a vacated position. Mr. Struthers is a longtime resident of DeKalb and has had extensive leadership roles in the community and interactions with NIU over many years.

Congratulations to Mr. Struthers on his reappointment for a full-term, and welcome to our three new trustees.

The arrival of these new board members means that three of our trustees are leaving. We are very grateful for, and strengthened by, their leadership and advocacy.

Marc Strauss was appointed to the board in 2005 and has been a strong and valued leader serving in many capacities, including twice as board chair. A faithful and active member of the DeKalb County community, he has been consistently involved in a wide variety of university events.

During these recent years of fiscal uncertainty, Mr. Strauss – a lawyer with nearly four decades of practice – has lent his professional expertise to our state-level challenges. In late 2015, he led his fellow trustees in boldly calling on state leaders to find a resolution to the budget crisis.

Cherilyn Murer, appointed in 2005, served two terms as chair. During her first term as chair (2007 to 2009), she helped to lead our university community through some very difficult times.

She is also a proud and distinguished alumna who has done much to support her alma mater (College of Law), where she and her husband, Michael Murer, generously fund the NIU Law Murer Lecture on Professionalism. The speakers – Ms. Murer among them – integrate professional experience into the law school curriculum.

Robert Marshall, also a proud alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NIU, leaves us after one term of service. Most recently, he chaired the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Personnel Committees.

His 40-year career in education included 30 years at South Suburban College, formerly known as Thornton Community College. Mr. Marshall provided his NIU Board of Trustees colleagues with important insights regarding issues of social justice and the needs of all students, including those joining us from community colleges.

On behalf of NIU, I thank Mr. Strauss, Ms. Murer and Mr. Marshall for their years of dedicated service to the university. They helped move the institution forward, and I wish them all the best.

Again, our warm Huskie welcome to Mr. Barsema, Ms. Herrero and Mr. Wasowicz, and welcome back to Mr. Struthers. The university looks forward to working with you as you join Mr. Robert Boey, Dr. John Butler (chair), Mr. Wheeler Coleman and Mr. Mathew Holmes (student trustee) as board members.

Together forward,