Founded in 2016, the NIU Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives is the primary advisor to President Lisa C. Freeman on issues and concerns related to the diversity of belief systems represented at NIU.
Andrew Pemberton, internal communications manager, Web and Internal Communications, became the commission chair when it was formed three years ago.
“In today’s cultural climate it’s important to address issues of faith and the role our belief systems play in forming our identities,” Pemberton said. “Our faith—whether it is religious or non-religious—plays a significant role in forming our worldview; it’s how we establish our individual codes of conduct and acts as a lens through which we view ourselves and others.”
The commission – made up of faculty, staff and students – advises the president on research and actions needed to accommodate the needs of individuals who wish to practice their religious, spiritual or philosophical beliefs. Commission members serve on behalf of the whole university community in a spirit of independence and impartiality to foster a supportive climate for people of all faith and belief systems.
“The Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives has impacted the university by including religious and non-religious identities as part of the dialogue when it comes to diversity,” Pemberton said. “The commission works to create programming that provides faculty, staff and students with opportunities to explore their own worldview while gaining a better understanding of what other people believe.”
That is something unique about NIU, Pemberton said, since many state universities shy away from acknowledging that a person’s faith plays a significant role in their identity.
“You’re welcome to join the commission whether you identify with a religion or not,” Pemberton said. “Current members include people from both religious and non-religious identities from agnosticism to paganism, Methodist to Bahá’í. Everyone brings a unique and valuable perspective.”
And here is your opportunity to bring your perspective to the Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives.
Each spring, the Office of the President invites nominations and self-nominations of faculty, staff and students for appointment to the presidential commissions. Commission appointments are made during the summer with terms beginning in the fall.
If you are an NIU student or a faculty or staff member and are interested in joining this welcoming group, please forward nominations, including name, title classification (faculty, instructor, supportive professional staff, operating staff, undergraduate student, graduate student), campus address, email, telephone number and a brief statement summarizing your qualifications and desire to serve, to Pat Erickson, Office of the University Council, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Self-nominations are also acceptable.