The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees elected new leaders for Fiscal Year 2022 at its meeting on June 17.
Assuming the role of board chair will be Eric Wasowicz, who will be joined at the head of the board by Rita Athas, who was elected vice chair. Rounding out the leadership team are Montel Gayles, who will serve as secretary, John Butler, will serve as the university’s representative to the Civil Service Merit Board, and Bob Pritchard was elected as the fifth member of the Executive Committee. The one-year terms for each position took effect July 1.
Wasowicz, who joined the board in 2017, comes into the role of chair with a wealth of experience. He has served as vice chair for the last two years, was a member of the board’s Executive Committee and has led Finance, Audit, Compliance, Facilities and Operations Committee.
Wasowicz received a degree in computer science from NIU in 1980 and was part of a group of NIU graduates who founded the business and technology firm Greenbrier and Russel. His success earned him the honor of being selected to the university’s list of Distinguished Young Alumni in 1999 and, in 2009, he was named the NIU College of Business Alumnus of the Year. His service to the university includes being part of the NIU College of Business Board of Advisors for many years and teaching Applied Entrepreneurship in the college from 2012 until 2016.
“We are a university that serves our communities with grit and determination, which is what our students are all about,” said Wasowicz, who is known as a relentless promoter of the university and its students. “This is an amazing place that delivers on its mission, vision and values every day. And I promise that I will do the same.”
Athas, who joined the board in 2019, received a master’s degree in public administration from NIU in 1979. She sits on the board at World Business Chicago, where she previously served as president. Athas also was a member of the NIU Alumni Association Board of Directors, including five years as vice president, and was a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient in 2012. She previously served as chair of the board of trustees Research and Innovation, Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee.
Gayles, joined the board in 2019 and has served as chair of the Finance, Audit, Compliance, Facilities and Operations Committee. He graduated from NIU in 1983 with a degree in communications studies and has a long history of service to the university, including serving on the NIU Foundation Board from 2012 until 2019. He currently works as a vice president at Electrical Resource Management and is the founder and owner of Gayles Consulting.
Butler holds the longest tenure on the board, having been appointed in 2007. He has served in many roles, including as chair. Butler holds two degrees from NIU – a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in communication – and previously taught in the university’s Department of Communication as an assistant professor. He currently works in a senior leadership position with the Painters District Council No. 30 and its affiliated benefit funds.
At the meeting, Butler praised outgoing Board Chair Dennis Barsema.
“You have distinguished yourself as an accessible, curious, focused and socially conscious board leader and it has been an honor to work with you. It has been nothing but a pleasure,” Butler said to Barsema, who will remain on the board as a trustee.
Other members of the board are former State Rep. Bob Pritchard, Chief Strategy Officer for the City Colleges of Chicago Veronica Herrero and newly elected student trustee, Jacob Sommer. The June 17 meeting marked the end of Student Trustee Aidan Shields’ service to the board as he graduated at the end the spring semester.