NIU’s window to the world:  the Huskie Engagement Center

Did you know that last academic year NIU students made over 414,000 calls and connected with nearly 18,000 alumni and friends of the university?

For over 20 years, Grant Towers North has been home to the NIU Foundation’s student call center, the Huskie Engagement Center. The center is powered by 60 NIU students who occupy 24 calling stations five nights a week. This past fall, over 400 students applied for one of the center’s 20 open positions. 

Anna Pesola, one of the Huskie Engagement Center’s student managers.

“I love working at the Huskie Engagement Center. It has given me the opportunity to meet so many new people,” shares Anna Pesola, one of the center’s student managers. “The working environment is something you will not be able to find anywhere else on campus. It’s warm and welcoming. I have been able to connect with so many alumni and enjoy hearing their stories. I have grown as a person since my freshman year and my communication skills have improved to the point where I am now comfortable speaking in front of anyone and everyone.”

Changing with the Times

Last year, the call center rebranded itself from the “Huskie Telefund” to the “Huskie Engagement Center.” The new name demonstrates a principal focus on engagement rather than telefundraising.  Students who make phone calls are now referred to as “ambassadors” as opposed to “callers.”

While the call center is still an effective tool in bringing donations to NIU, there has been a decline in the number of people who pick up their phones. This trend led the Huskie Engagement Center to diversify its calling portfolio to focus not just on fundraising, but also on thanking NIU donors, inviting people to events and conducting surveys. A peer-to-peer texting capability was also integrated into the center’s communication efforts in order to expand outreach.

The call center still continues to be an important component of the NIU Foundation’s fundraising efforts, having helped raise nearly $12 million over its 20 year span. For many NIU alumni, it’s their only connection point to the university.

Serving the Entire NIU Campus Community

The student workers of the Huskie Engagement Center

With an expanded mission and vision, the center has begun to branch out to serve more than just the NIU Foundation and the Division of University Advancement.

Last year, the Huskie Engagement Center took on its first “client”—NIU’s Department of Accreditation, Assessment, and Evaluation. The department approached the center about conducting recent graduate surveys to collect data about the student experience and the steps they took after graduating from NIU.  The project was a success, with the Huskie Engagement Center completing 78 surveys. 

“By supporting our alumni survey project, the Huskie Engagement Center helped us increase our response rates to the survey,” shares Ritu Subramony, director of of Accreditation, Assessment, and Evaluation. “The staff continues to work very well with us and is very open to improving the system based on our needs.” 

With its call and texting capability, the Huskie Engagement Center is looking for additional on-campus clients to serve.

More Information

Can the Huskie Engagement Center help serve you and advance your department’s strategic goals? Contact Kyleigh Wallace at kwallace4@niu.edu or 753-7533 for more information or to take a tour of the center. 

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