NIU gears up for 125th anniversary observance

A 25-member committee has been hard at work creating the outline for a year-long observance of NIU’s 125th anniversary. Now the entire university community is invited to participate by submitting ideas, applying for grants, and branding both new and existing events as 125th celebrations.

NIU’s 125th (also known as a quasquicentennial) officially kicks off in January 2020, a century-and-a-quarter after the university was founded in 1895. A special website has been created to promote the observance, collect ideas and grant applications.

“Significant anniversaries like this one provide opportunities that should not be missed,” said NIU President Lisa Freeman. “This is an ideal time to ask people to think about why their work matters, identify the historic trends that help us anticipate new challenges and to unify around those moments that bring us pride.”

The planning group is co-chaired by Chief of Staff Matt Streb and Alumni Association Director Reggie Bustinza, and includes faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. Together, they have outlined a series of central events that leave plenty of room for individuals and units to supplement with their own ideas.

125 Key Moments

Each significant NIU anniversary has created lasting tributes for future generations (specially commissioned books, poetry, music and more). For the 125th anniversary, that historical gift will be a digital repository called “125 Key NIU Moments,” submitted by members of the university community.    

Entries can be made directly on the 125th anniversary website beginning now and continuing through to the end of the current semester. A group of respected university and community leaders appointed by President Freeman will select the most representative entries, and each will be illustrated with photos and artwork from the NIU Regional History Center archives.

Central Events

125th anniversary celebrations will begin with a kick-off event in January 2020, followed by a series of special lectures, a communiversity event, NIU Day in Chicago, a special concert and a closing event in December.

Unit and Community Events

In between those centrally-planned celebrations, NIU, and community units and organizations are invited to create and/or brand their own events with a special 125th anniversary flavor. Those events can bear the 125th logo and will be included in the anniversary master calendar.

Apply for Grants

Planning an event or project for 2020? If it meets the following criteria, it may be eligible for a matching grant from the 125th Anniversary Fund:

  • Supports the university’s mission, vision and values.
  • Has some existing funding that could be matched.
  • Will take place in calendar year 2020.
  • Will help build awareness of NIU’s impressive history and promising future.
  • Fosters new relationships and/or strengthens existing relationships.

In most cases, successful proposals will be for events that are not part of ongoing annual programming. Funded events will be those that meet the aforementioned guidelines, offering value that will be enhanced by the extra funding. (Example: A lecture series improved by funding for a high-profile speaker.).  

Click here to learn more. Applications for 125th Anniversary matching funds will be accepted on this linked website beginning Monday, April 1.  

125th Anniversary Branding

A special 125th Anniversary symbol has been developed and will be widely available for use via download from the anniversary website.  This special insignia may be used on NIU websites, on social media posts and in printed materials. Its first official application is on new parking hang tags to be distributed in June.

“The 125th Anniversary Committee has been meeting since September of 2018, and we’re excited about the momentum that’s been developed,” said Co-Chairs Matt Streb and Reggie Bustinza. “Anniversaries like this one are great opportunities to engage with our alumni, donors, communities and each other, and we hope our larger campus community will get on board with their own ideas for the celebration.”

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