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Remembering Peggy Sullivan: Educator, leader, Huskie supporter

June 1, 2020

Peggy Sullivan

The Huskie community is remembering retired dean, esteemed educator, and scholar, Margaret Ann “Peggy” Sullivan, a woman described by her family and friends as someone who encouraged everyone to pursue higher education, read another book, see another play, and sing another song.

“Those of you who weren’t at Northern before 1992 may not have had the privilege of knowing Peggy,” said Sue Doederlein, a retired English professor and associate dean for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “If you asked Peggy what she did, she would say she was a librarian and a teacher — but there’s a whole world of wonder in those words.”

The wonder Doederlein describes includes myriad professional achievements as an educator and administrator including serving as director and professor for NIU University Libraries, and as president of the American Library Association. Her colleagues also remember her for her significant contributions to research, scholarship, and the professional and personal support she showed others. Sullivan was also known for her wit, charm, energy, and zest for life.

Sullivan was particularly devoted to research in library science, specifically library history and library service to children.

An endowment Sullivan established in 2004 encourages outstanding faculty research in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

The Sullivan Award supports tenured or tenure-track professors in their research efforts, especially those involving students. Over a dozen faculty have received the honor. The most recent recipient is Xiaohui Sophie Li, assistant professor in family and child studies who received the support for her research on couple and family systems and how they influence the way children cope with daily stress and life crisis.

Sullivan was an alumna of the University of Chicago, the Catholic University of America, and Clarke College, but she was a Huskie through and through. She was a regular at NIU gatherings including alumni and athletic events and never missed a retirement party, according to her friends and colleagues.

“Peggy’s NIU family was important to her’” said Judy Schneider, associate director of gift planning.  “And while not an alumna, she was always interested in the health of the institution and what she and others could do to be supportive.”

“She has been missed for a long time already; her name and memories of her float in the NIU atmosphere,” said Wanda Giles, former editor-in-chief of the University Press. “I can remember where she usually sat for a variety of meetings and groups; she was always there, always sparkling.”

Contributions in her honor can be sent to the NIU Peggy Sullivan Endowed Faculty Research Fund, Northern Illinois University Foundation, P.O. Box 746, DeKalb, IL 60115.

Read Sullivan’s obituary here.