The depth and scope of contributions to NIU and the community by the four members of NIU’s Supportive Professional Staff selected as honorees of this year’s Presidential Awards for Excellence span all facets of the university’s operations and demonstrate deep ties to the community as well.
Recipients are: Karen Baker, associate vice president for Administration and Human Relations Compliance; Jo Burke, director of the NIU Art Museum; Laura Lundelius, director of Campus Services; Mark Pietrowski, associate director of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming. Each will receive a check for $1,500 and a plaque.
They will be honored during a ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on April 12, in the Holmes Student Center ballroom. Refreshments will be served during a reception preceding the ceremony at 2 p.m. The reception and ceremony are open to all.
Karen Baker’s role at NIU oversees processes that aim to reduce conflict and support a fair and supportive environment at the university, and her colleagues say her leadership and priorities exemplify those goals. In fact, they go so far as to call her an “ambassador of fairness and equity.”
An NIU employee for 28 years, and having earned three degrees from the university, her contributions are numerous. She oversees employee and labor relations, faculty and staff searches, internal investigations, and compliance with Title IX, Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and training and outreach pertaining to all of those areas.
As NIU’s Title IX coordinator, she built the university’s procedure to handle complaints of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and various types of sexual assault from scratch. Colleagues say that she took time and sought out training to ensure that NIU’s policies and processes serve as a model for other institutions.
Her role requires that she works tirelessly to keep the university in compliance with the changing legal landscape, writing new policies and re-working old ones. She worked to create the former Office of Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources, was instrumental in the realignment to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance and contributed to the university’s Affirmative Action Plan.
Sara Cliffe, associate general counsel, Litigation, said Baker is held in high regard across campus.
“She enjoys a good reputation for being honest, understanding, encouraging, knowledgeable, accommodating, thoughtful, creative and above all else, fair,” Cliffe said.
The NIU Art Museum is recognized on and off campus as one of the jewels of NIU, and it’s no coincidence that so is the museum’s director, Jo Burke. For more than two decades, Burke is credited with nurturing a spirit of creativity and collaboration that has engaged the campus and the community while raising the profile of the NIU Art Museum.
Located on the first floor of Altgeld Hall, the museum preserves and presents art objects in the permanent care of the university, organizing and curating special exhibitions and contributing to the university’s Museum Studies academic program. Burke is credited with going beyond the walls of the museum to promote an appreciation of art and of the university’s collection.
Burke’s work resonates beyond campus and throughout the Chicago area, said Richard Siegesmund, professor of Art and Design Education. As proof, he cited her engagement in the community and on various committees, as well as her success in raising over $1 million in grants and external funding to support projects related to the museum and for the restoration of public murals in the DeKalb area.
“The exhibitions and public fora she presents are a reason for people to make a special trip to DeKalb,” he said.
As director of Campus Services, Lundelius provides leadership to Campus Services operations such as Materials Management, Transportation and Campus Parking Services. The logistics and tasks that fall under those areas require patience and dedication, and colleagues say Lundelius displays both qualities in abundance.
As a tireless and dedicated leader often found in her office on nights and on weekends, colleagues across campus say Lundelius can be counted on to follow up in detail on even casual observations about efficiencies in her areas.
“In my 17 years working in Materials Management under three different directors, I have not seen a leader come close to Laura’s ability to balance professional and personal skills,” said Keenon Darlinger, manager. “She goes above and beyond to bring her staff together as a team.”
Colleagues credit Lundelius with working on innovative programs on campus such as the Zipcar Program, Borrow a Bike Program and electronic vehicle charging stations. She is also involved in campus committees in addition to those under her role with Campus Services, and she volunteers in the community.
In his role as associate director of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming, Mark Pietrowski is described by colleagues as a prolific innovator of programs that extend the NIU brand far beyond campus in the form of youth summer camps, test prep programs and professional development programs for educators.
Pietrowski’s creativity has led to the formation of various popular youth summer camps seen as not only providing campers with unique and formative experiences but also with introducing junior high and high school students to NIU.
However, his contributions go far beyond external programming offerings: Pietrowski’s campus and community involvement are likely unmatched, say colleagues. He’s involved on committees, serves as an instructor and a faculty advisor. In the community, he is a DeKalb County board Chairman and serves on various other community boards.
“It is to NIU’s credit that they nurtured a two-time alumnus to become a great professional and community leader,” said Lise Schlosser, office manager for CLAS External Programming. “There is no better ambassador for CLAS External Programming, the College, the university, DeKalb County or Illinois, than Mark.”
Other honorees who will be recognized during the ceremony are:
SPS Service Award
Steve Builta, College of Education
Katharine “Katie” Denius, daughter of Elizabeth “Liz” Denius, communications manager, Center for Southeast Asian Studies
SPS Staff Awards:
Chad Glover, Jobs PLUS
Excellence in Supervision
Jeff Reynolds, Academic Analysis and Reporting
Partnership & Collaboration (2 awards)
Faculty Development & Instructional Design Center
Cathy Cradduck, Research and Innovation Partnerships
Daniel House, Institutional Research
Steve Estes, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising
Certificates of Recognition
Greg Brady, Office of General Counsel
Amy Buhrow, College of Business
Kristie Crane, Department of Sociology
Angie Flannery, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising
Debbie Gettemy, Housing and Residential Services
Pettee Guerrero, Outreach and Engagement
Anne Hardy, Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
Michaela Holtz, Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning
Kelsey Johnson, Department of Accountancy
Joan Laurino, Marketing and Communications
Tom Parisi, Institutional Communications
Carolyn Law, Thesis and Dissertation Office
Julie Ann O’Connell Read, Center for NGO Leadership and Development
Ritu Subramony, Assessment Services
Pam Taylor, School of Nursing
Ellen Olsen, School of Health Studies
Betsy Hull, College of Education
Diane Johnson, Development Operations
Robin Kenney, Development Administration
Susan Hansfield, Intercollegiate Athletics Sponsored Programs Administration
Bill McCoy, College of Business
Angelica Mendoza, Latino Resource Center
Andrew Pemberton, University Marketing
Brian Glick, Student Conduct
Randi Napientek, Student Athlete Academic Support Services
Jill Zambito, Student Involvement & Leadership Development
Charles Cherry, Housing and Residential Services
John Kearsing, DoIT
Pingping Ren, Office of Institutional Research