Nichole Knutson has joined NIU’s Division of Academic Affairs as the new vice provost for student success. Knutson was recently the associate vice provost at the University of Illinois Chicago, where she led student support initiatives, degree completion programs, and research and grant management units.
“I am delighted that Dr. Nichole Knutson has joined the Huskie leadership team,” said Omar Ghrayeb, senior vice provost, NIU’s Division of Academic Affairs. “She has strong experience and skills in student success with very strong data analytics background, and we are very excited to welcome her to the NIU family.”
Knutson earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, master’s degree from University of Kansas and doctorate degree from University of Kentucky. She has over two decades of experience working to support student retention, progress toward degree, and graduation in a collegiate environment.
“I have been fortunate to work at four amazing universities,” Knutson said. “These experiences have prepared me to work with a variety of staff, faculty, and students to advocate for student success and to support initiatives to advance degree completion.”
A first-generation college student, Knutson can relate to the challenges that come with earning a college degree.
“I was a low-income, first-generation college student from a small town,” Knutson said. “I worked, two, three, and for a few semesters, four jobs while I was an undergraduate student. Earning a college degree was difficult for me both academically and financially.”
Knutson said it was the relationships she built on campus that proved instrumental in her journey to complete her undergraduate degree.
“I am grateful for the campus work-study positions I held, my academic advisors, career counselors, and faculty members who encouraged me, especially when I doubted that I could finish my degree,” Knutson said. “These experiences and relationships set me on the path to eventually pursue a graduate degree and to work in higher education.”
She is looking forward to making connections with Huskie students, helping them on their path and increasing opportunities for them.
“We all encounter challenges and we have an opportunity to learn from those challenges,” Knutson said. “I experienced several setbacks and made so many mistakes along the way, and I was able to earn undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees. I love being able to share my journey with students and helping them to actualize their goals.”