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Brenda is the glue that holds everything together. From scheduling, to book ordering questions, to helping us navigate this online world. Her response time and thoroughness for questions thrown at her is something to marvel. She even answers on the weekend! I know I would be lost without her. She is always willing to help! Thank you Brenda!

Date posted: April 13, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Brenda Kehm – Curriculum and Instruction

Categories: Applause

For the past four years, NIU senior Alex Kramer has witnessed the growth of collegiate esports firsthand as a player, a student worker and a community ambassador, and through lectures and academics. Esports – the field of organized, competitive video gaming – is a multimillion-dollar industry with the same opportunities for coaching, marketing, management, data analysis and other careers that apply in traditional sports, at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

Alex Kramer

Kramer remembers arriving at NIU as a freshman, excited to play on the club Overwatch team. “It was a very small team,” he reminisces. “There weren’t even real tryouts. Everyone who wanted to be on the team made it, and we competed in small tournaments with schools we hadn’t really heard of before. Now, we’re excited to have a varsity team and be part of the new Esports Collegiate Conference, which includes the MAC schools as well as Northeastern University.”

As Kramer developed his gameplay and rapport with fellow team members, he also learned about the wide range of esports careers through the NIU Esports Career Lecture Series. By interacting with professionals in the industry, Kramer realized that the knowledge and skills he was developing in his B.S. in Operations Management and Information Systems (OMIS) degree, as well as his minors in marketing and business analytics, were applicable to a career in esports.

“Through our Esports Lecture Series, we talked with Vivian Nguyen, who is a business intelligence data manager for Team Liquid, one of the largest esports organizations in North America,” Kramer says. “It really opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many careers in this industry. Every speaker has brought a new perspective, and we’ve had a wide variety of speakers, from lawyers to marketing coordinators, business analysts, and next week we’re even talking to a physician who specializes in esports injuries.”

Kramer is especially intrigued to apply his knowledge of business analytics in an esports setting. “I love looking at statistics, so I gravitated towards that area of OMIS,” he says. “I’m hoping to provide a unique value of having a lot of knowledge about esports as well as statistical analysis, looking at key performance indicators to make suggestions for the future or diagnose what went well or didn’t go well in the past. In esports, specifically, a lot of what business analysts do is to create reports to send to potential sponsors to show that esports is growing and seeing a good return on investment.”

Kramer was so intrigued by the possible career paths in esports, in fact, that he reached out to NIU Esports General Manager Conner Vagle to see if he could do more work with NIU Esports. Kramer was already working as an attendant in the Esports Arena – troubleshooting tech issues and answering questions for the students who used the arena’s gaming PCs and consoles. As part of his student employment, he soon joined Vagle in attending recruitment events, planning tournaments and even developing and teaching an esports curriculum to teens in partnership with the NIU STEAM summer camps and the NIU Digital Convergence Lab. Kramer has also taken on social media promotion and community management for NIU Esports, running and promoting monthly online pickup games for current and prospective students, as well as alumni.

According to Kramer, esports is an important tool for community building and student recruitment, as the social interactions among current, past and prospective students at these pickup games attest. Kramer says he has focused his message on community when he’s spoken to prospective students and families at recruitment events.

“Back when we were able to have a table at in-person recruitment events, we sort of had to put on two faces,” Kramer says. “For the students who know what esports are, we told them about the games we play, what we do and where we meet. For the parents, we would explain what esports is.”

“I think it’s important for them to know that esports is not just a way to play competitive video games,” Kramer continues. “Especially at the collegiate level, it’s a way to build a community and meet new people. I know my transition from high school to college would have been a lot different – and probably a lot harder – had I not found the esports club right away, and had I not found so many people who shared my interests. I’m really glad that the club was there, and I’m glad to be able to contribute to NIU Esports and help to give other students that same great experience I had when I arrived at NIU.”

The experience of communicating about esports to different audiences is good preparation for Kramer’s future career path, where he’ll likely interact with both esports fans who are deeply immersed in the sport and potential sponsors who are not very familiar with it.

Kramer – who is beginning the NIU Master of Science in Sport Management program this coming fall – is looking at different esports career options, including social media manager, community manager and business analyst. “That’s why my job at NIU Esports has helped so much,” he says. “Because we’re such a small department at the moment, I’ve done many different jobs in the past few months alone. It’s really given me the opportunity to figure out which path I want to take.”

Kramer is excited to continue working for NIU Esports as a graduate assistant while he completes his master’s degree, deepening his knowledge of leadership, data analysis, marketing, fiscal management and ethics in sport through his academic courses and work.

Learn more about NIU Esports, including the NIU minor in Esports Industry Professions on the NIU Esports website.

Date posted: April 13, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU student explores esports careers through work, play and study

Categories: Homepage Students Uncategorized

The Presidential Commission on Race and Ethnicity (PCORE), formerly the Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities (PSCM), has reimagined the annual Diversity and Inclusion luncheon as a virtual summit. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 14 beginning at noon.

The summit offers three programs including an afternoon awards ceremony, and afternoon program for students, and an evening town hall titled Policing on Campus in America. The town hall will feature Professor Rashawn Ray from the University of Maryland, Deputy Chief Darren Mitchell, and City of DeKalb Chief David Byrd. Dr. Simón E. Weffer-Elizondo, associate professor from the Department of Sociology will facilitate the discussion.

The afternoon awards ceremony will honor six McKinley “Deacon” Davis Award recipients and acknowledge their contributions towards building and sustaining an inclusive campus. The recipients are Jasmine Ivy, an NIU graduate student; Jessica Labatte, associate professor in the School of Art and Design; Paula Frasz, professor in the School of Dance; Michelle Bringas, director of the Asian American Resource Center; Jocelyn Santana, director of Social Justice Education; and President Lisa Freeman. Students, staff, faculty, and members of the community are welcome to attend the event and can register at

Jasmine Ivy

Jasmine Ivy

Jasmine Ivy is engaged student leader who recently moderated a virtual Diversity Dialogue Series program on race-related trauma and was selected as the 2021 Phyllis Cunningham Social Justice Award winner for her efforts to pursue and support social justice initiatives.

Her nominator wrote: “Jasmine Ivy has been an exceptional student leader for her entire tenure at NIU, both as an undergraduate and graduate student. As an undergraduate student she was very engaged in service and promoted programs that uplift and empower students. She is a very talented, well-rounded young lady with a strong work ethic and is forthright in her pursuit of solutions. Jasmine is a leader that is committed to public service.”

Jessica Labatte

Jessica Labatte

Jessica Labatte, an associate professor in the School of Art and Design, and two student photographers created an extraordinarily moving project, Faces of Belonging, which can be viewed on Huskie Line buses within the DeKalb community and online at

Additionally, her nominator added, “Her work in the classroom focuses on access and empathy. She makes sure all her students have the best equipment possible, regardless of economic status. Jessica encourages, in fact requires, an inclusive approach to the art of photography, in which students are challenged to question not only what is photographed, but by whom and how. She was interrogating the dominant practices well before the current attention on such things.”

Paula Frasz

Paula Frasz

Professor Paula Frasz from the School of Dance is a legendary dance performance educator in the City of Chicago and at NIU.

Her nominator states, “her philosophy is to unite her community by bringing the art of dance performance to a myriad of audience members, illustrating that dance can universally convey ideas with compelling, creative and lasting images. In her research, she has voiced issues of BIPOC populations and those who have been silenced for so long. She has implemented her philosophy as founder and artistic director of DanszLoop Chicago, a not-for-profit dance company. For 14 years, DanszLoop showcased her choreography locally and nationally. DanszLoop audiences represent all strata of society, from a gymnasium full of African-American third-graders, to 250 artistic elites at the Manhattan Center for Movement and Music in New York City.”

Michelle Bringas

Michelle Bringas

Michelle Bringas has served as the director of the Asian American Resource Center for the past 19 years.  She has built sustainable programs that uplift, support and empower students of Asian descent while engaging and educating our campus about Asian American heritage and culture.

Her nominator states, “Michelle has been an exceptional alumna and leader on our campus for years. She has been engaged in advocacy for many groups which is demonstrated by her standing with Black students and advocating for the original erection of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. bust in the MLK Commons; walking in protest alongside students; and without recognition speaking up for those who have been silenced, especially in difficult moments. Michelle plays a major role in developing and sustaining an inclusive campus.”

Jocelyn Santana

Jocelyn Santana

Jocelyn Santana serves as director of NIU’s Social Justice Education program.  Her work extends across and beyond our campus and has helped develop programs, education and discussions that are transforming the climate at NIU.

Her nominator says, “Jocelyn is considered the staff expert on our campus because of her knowledge, willingness to engage in education and healing, and her enthusiasm and personality. Jocelyn works literally day, night and weekends to help provide the support, expertise, engagement and education for our campus and community to ensure we can enhance participants’ cultural competence, understanding and ultimately create environments that encourage conversations and cultural change.”

President Lisa Freeman

President Lisa Freeman

As our thirteenth President and first woman in the role, President Lisa Freeman truly leads our campus and community by example. She continues to lead our university with her consistent engagement, vision and efforts to create a community of inclusivity where all are welcomed and valued.

Her nominator shares, “Dr. Freeman is dedicated to ensuring our students, staff and faculty have the support they need to succeed on all levels. I have observed Dr. Freeman attend difficult meetings and conversations and address students with an empathetic and listening ear and then energize senior leadership to make immediate and lasting changes to meet the needs of students. Her personal engagement with students, her vision even through a pandemic and her relentless efforts to develop a campus that is a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, technology and beyond is commendable.”

For more information, contact PCORE Chair Felicia R. Bohanon at: (815) 753-1868 or [email protected] To attend for the Annual Summit, registration is required at

Date posted: April 12, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on 2021 Deacon Davis Diversity Award winners named

Categories: Awards Faculty & Staff Homepage Students Uncategorized

“Mini disk recorder slash player.”

“The old cassette recorder.”

“DAT tape, known for failing miserably and getting lots of crackles as you play them back.”

“Ooh. That is a… What is it? …. Tube transformer?”

A lot has changed in the 30 years since WNIJ 89.5 signed on the air, as Reporter Susan Stephens and Chief Technical Officer David Tallacksen demonstrate in their tour of WNIJ’s Museum of Ancient Technology – the fifth segment in the station’s “30 Reasons to Love WNIJ” series.

But even though DAT tape and cassette recorders have given way to computers, digital recorders and upgraded transmitters, a lot has also stayed the same as WNIJ continues to fulfill its core mission of educating and entertaining, helping listeners learn something new every day.

WNIJ is celebrating 30 years of public broadcasting this year, and they’re asking listeners to join in the celebration by sharing their memories and reasons they love the station.

A 2016 staff photo.

When WNIJ signed on in 1991, the programming previously provided by WNIU was split into two services. WNIU became an all-classical music station, and WNIJ began providing news, jazz and entertainment. (The J in WNIJ stands for “jazz.”) That same year, Northern Public Radio opened the new NIU Broadcast Center in DeKalb, which houses the main studios and offices of WNIJ and WNIU, as well as auxiliary studios and offices in Riverfront Museum Park in Rockford.

As the broadcast arm of Northern Illinois University, the mission of WNIJ and WNIU is to enrich, inspire and inform adults in northern Illinois. The listener area covers much of northern Illinois and some of southern Wisconsin with WNIJ 89.5 serving DeKalb and Rockford, WNIQ 91.5 in Sterling, WNIE 89.1 in Freeport and WNIW 91.3 in La Salle.

In the first installment of “30 Reasons to Love WNIJ,” former Northern Public Radio General Manager Mike Lazar describes the station’s launch on April 28, 1991.

Lazar remembers the move to Northern Public Radio’s new home in the old Palmer Music Store on first street in DeKalb. “The night before we launched WNIJ, our engineers were frantically wiring the new studios. And then we were very lucky to have Carl Kasell, the late Carl Kasell, the voice of NPR News, who was here for the grand opening… I read the initial sign on, and Carl did one of his famous newscasts right from the studios at the broadcast center.”

The home of Northern Public Radio on N. First Street in DeKalb, pre-1991 and today.

For the next 30 years, WNIJ has become woven into the daily lives of listeners as they’ve tuned in every day from their cars, kitchen radios, ear buds and mobile devices.

The Saturday Blues soon became a staple of WNIJ programming, featuring traditional performers such as Muddy Waters and Etta James, as well as recent musicians such as Toronzo Cannon and Shemekia Copeland. Science Friday is a perennial favorite with listeners who love to keep up on new developments in science and technology, such as Sandra from Beloit, who says, “I studied science when the periodic chart was much, much shorter. Science Friday piques my interest and fills me with pleasant and intriguing information about science.”

Over the years, WNIJ has brought interviews with musicians, authors, sculptors and painters, a tradition that Arts and Culture Reporter Yvonne Boose is continuing with her weekly segment Poetically Yours. And, of course, the station provides up-to-date local and national news from the journalists on staff in northern Illinois and the station’s longstanding partnership with National Public Radio.

Throughout April, the daily segment “30 Reasons to Love WNIJ” will air during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on the WNIJ mobile app and Listen or share your memories at

Date posted: April 12, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on WNIJ 89.5 celebrates 30 years on the air

Categories: Community Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

As access to COVID-19 vaccines becomes increasingly available to Illinois residents 16 years of age and older, Huskies are sharing their reasons for getting vaccinated.

Many of NIU’s faculty and staff have already received a COVID-19 vaccine administered through the DeKalb County Public Health Department. More than 1,100 NIU employees received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic held at the Convocation Center on Thursday, March 18, and returned for their second dose of the vaccine on Thursday, April 8.

“It is really important that Huskies receive one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available,” says Chief of Staff Matt Streb. “The more Huskies who get vaccinated, the more likely we are to have a fall 2021 semester that looks a bit more normal.”

While it is likely that some of the guidelines outlined in Protecting the Pack will be in place during the fall semester, those who are vaccinated will be exempt from participating in weekly surveillance testing.

“Currently we plan to provide roughly 70% of classes face-to-face, allow students to have roommates in residence halls, offer more sit-down dining options and host more campus events during fall 2021,” continues Streb. “However, for those things to happen, Huskies need to continue following the guidelines outlined in Protecting the Pack and consider getting vaccinated when they are able.”

Getting vaccinated is a personal choice and Huskies are encouraged to consult with their healthcare providers and those whom they trust while making their decision. Individuals’ reasons for choosing to get vaccinated are just as personal.

Shondra Clay, assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions

“I have a unique perspective because I do have an educational background in community and public health, so I know the science; I know about epidemiology,” says Shondra Clay, assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions. “However, I have a salient identity of being African American and a research area rooted in health disparities, so I also know the historical context of the impact and relationship of racial identity and health outcomes.”

“As I think about some of my reasons for getting the vaccine, I think about how this opportunity is bigger than me,” continues Clay. “To me, it’s about saving my life or another person’s life.”

Clay supports fellow Huskies getting vaccinated. “I would encourage fellow Huskies to get the vaccine to possibly protect another person’s life, for example, those that may be at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.”

Monique Bernoudy, assistant vice president for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For Monique Bernoudy, assistant vice president for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, deciding to get the vaccine was challenging.

“I was initially hesitant as a result of the United States’ historical clinical experimentation on Black people, often without our knowledge or consent,” states Bernoudy. “However, my perspective changed based on two things:  I recognized marginalized groups, especially Black and Brown, are adversely impacted by COVID-19 and I conducted my own research on the vaccines.”

For Bernoudy, the choice became simple.

“Getting the vaccine outweighs contracting a severe case of COVID. Knowledge became my power,” she says.

“While it is a personal choice, I think it’s wise for Huskies to get vaccinated to provide an enhanced level of safety for themselves, their families, friends and fellow Huskies,” continues Bernoudy. “We also have a population of young people and children who are unable to be vaccinated, and even if they are not living in our households, we have a responsibility to protect them by becoming vaccinated. They are vulnerable and represent our future.”

Looking to the future, Bernoudy is excited by what the vaccines represent.

“I’ve missed being able to engage with students and peers, attend events, and simply the energizing hustle and bustle of being on campus,” she says. “I’m looking forward to faculty, staff and students getting vaccinated so we can all return to the place we have missed.”

Meg Junk, chief of staff for the Division of Student Affairs

That sentiment is also what inspired Meg Junk, chief of staff for the Division of Student Affairs, to get the vaccine.

“I have really missed the energy on campus,” says Junk. “I miss seeing students in the MLK Commons, chatting with faculty and staff in the hallways after meetings and being able to fully engage with my colleagues and our students.”

“Unless a vast majority of us take steps to protect ourselves and others, it’s going to be difficult to get back on campus in a safe manner,” she says. “I would encourage people to get vaccinated so we can truly provide our students with the Huskie experience and serve them in the traditional ways they were accustomed to prior to the pandemic.”

Employees who have not yet received a vaccine but are interested can sign up through the DeKalb County Public Health Department.

Information, resources and frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines are available on the Protecting the Pact website. The State of Illinois Department of Public Health has a map of locations where vaccines are being offered by community to assist with finding a vaccination location within your local community.


Date posted: April 12, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Huskies reflect on receiving COVID-19 vaccines

Categories: Centerpiece Faculty & Staff Students Uncategorized

Valerie Garver, professor and chair of the Department of History, is the recipient of the 2021 University Honors Great Professor Award.

Valerie Garver, chair and professor in the Department of History, was named the recipient of this year’s Great Professor Award from the University Honors Program.

Garver, who has been active in honors programming during her 17 years at NIU, is a trained early medievalist, focusing on the study of northwest Europe in the Early Middle Ages. She is currently serving as an Honors Faculty Fellow, teaching a seminar on Game of Thrones and Medieval History.

This university-wide award, which was established in 2001, recognizes a faculty or staff member who has, over time, contributed significantly to honors education at NIU through teaching as well as advising, research, artistry or service. Recipients manifest leadership, dedication and service to the University Honors Program and NIU honors students.

Garver’s contributions span many aspects of honors programming. As Director of Undergraduate Studies in History, she supported the development of honors classes in the department, ran the departmental honors program, and instituted the possibility for undergraduates to take graduate courses in our department for honors credit if faculty granted permission. She has advised for honors capstone projects, supported the Honors House living-learning community, and worked closely with NIU-based honors student organizations or honors societies.

In terms of direct honors teaching, she has taught three Honors seminars, at least five in-course contracts, and around 20-25 mini-sections during her tenure. Her most prominent teaching contribution to Honors lies in the “Game of Thrones” course she developed and taught with Jeffery Chown. The course exemplifies the best outcomes of cross-disciplinary coordination. It speaks to current interests, but it does so in ways that are grounded in scholarship.

“Dr. Garver’s innovative pedagogical approaches and her clear dedication to mentoring students make her a model Honors Faculty Fellow and a most deserving winner of the Great Professor Award,” said Andrea Radasanu, director of the University Honors Program. “Her support for the University Honors Program goes beyond her superb teaching. As chair of the Department of History, Dr. Garver is also an incredibly generous collaborator on curriculum and curricular resources.”

Date posted: April 12, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Valerie Garver named Great Professor by University Honors Program

Categories: Awards Faculty & Staff Homepage Liberal Arts and Sciences Students Uncategorized

Four outstanding employees have been recognized for their contributions to NIU beyond a narrow reading of their job descriptions.

The Operating Staff Council named Jonie Barshinger, Robert Botts, Angie Flannery and Ellen Hamrick as recipients of the 2021 Operating Staff Outstanding Service Award.

Recipients are chosen for demonstrating outstanding service and making significant contributions to NIU and their communities.

Each will be honored at a virtual ceremony on April 15 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Meet the 2021 winners!

Jonie Barshinger

Jonie Barshinger, administrative assistant to the dean of the Graduate School

Known for her great patience and helpful attitude, Jonie Barshinger’s move to the Graduate School came at a fortuitous time.

The administrative assistant to Dean Brad Bond took on that role in August 2019, just a few months before the team evacuated Adams Hall for Williston Hall on two weeks’ notice.

Moving into temporary quarters there, Barshinger quickly packed up for another short-lived space and, soon, a third (and permanent) destination.

And, in between those two final shifts, something else happened: COVID-19. For Barshinger, the pandemic’s disruptions meant early mornings and late nights to keep pace with the challenges of working out of boxes in momentary locations.

“Everyone on campus has been strained to the hilt over the past year,” Bond says, “but I can’t think of anyone who has confronted those stressors while being moved four times, learning a new job and excelling at the job while ensuring that the Graduate School continues to provide a high level of service in an efficient, effective and collegial manner.”

Barshinger had spent most of her 29 years at NIU in the Department of Philosophy, where she started in 1994.

It was there that she proved herself “an invaluable asset” who “went above and beyond the call of duty,” even coming to the aid of students who needed information on majors and minors when the academic advisor was out.

“Never did I see her pass up an opportunity to be more than completely helpful to a student who came in with an inquiry,” retired Chair David J. Buller says. “She had complete knowledge of the undergraduate catalog, not only concerning the programs in Philosophy but concerning general university requirements.”

Outside of NIU, Barshinger is active with her local farm bureau, food pantry, Lions Club and the Indian Creek High School Sports Boosters.

Robert Botts

Robert Botts, associate bursar

Innovative. Reliable. Positive. A team player. An exceptional leader. A wealth of knowledge. The go-to person.

NIU Associate Bursar Robert Botts is all of these and more in providing better service for students and staff; his creations include something that nearly every prospective Huskie has accessed online: the NIU Planning and Cost Estimator.

“He saw the need for a more transparent and user-friendly guide to assist students and families with understanding cost and tuition and fees,” Bursar Miesha Daley says. “This has not only been helpful with marketing and recruiting students to NIU, but it has also allowed faculty and staff across campus to better advise and counsel students.”

Botts consistently explores ways to leverage technology to streamline operations, whether it’s enhanced functionality that allows students to manage payments and refunds electronically or emails to families to explain financial accounts and planning.

That expertise gained over 16 years at NIU proved invaluable last spring.

“During the early period of COVID-19, when the university had to swiftly shift many of its operations, Bob played an integral part in quickly and efficiently working to serve the needs of our students,” Daley says. “He worked closely with departments across campus to adjust charges on student accounts, and provided key data to senior leadership, which assisted with identifying our high-need students.”

As those eligible students received relief funds, colleagues of Botts recognized his spirit of caring in the process.

Says Shyree Sanan, associate vice president of Administration and Finance: “He possesses great people skills and compassion that show in his service to NIU students and their families, who oftentimes are in a difficult financial position and need guidance.”

Off campus, Botts volunteers with his church, the Children’s Community Theatre, a food pantry and a Christmas Shop where children can “buy” donated gifts for relatives free of charge.

Angie Flannery

Angie Flannery, academic advisor for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Consider the words of students in describing Angie Flannery, their academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

So patient. So calming. So helpful. Kindness and energy. A pillar of stability. The real hero. A blessing.

Or this: “She always made me feel like I was the most important person when I was talking to her.” Or this: “Outside of my own mother, Angie is one of the best ladies I’ve ever met.”

“We are frequently in awe of her ability to discuss sensitive matters with students. It feels as though her sole mission in life is to listen and help everyone she encounters,” says Steven L. Estes, the college’s director of Academic Advising.

Flannery’s service goes beyond students.

“Angie has the courage to ask difficult questions, and takes the time to offer creative suggestions when challenged. In doing so, she gives a voice to all advisors,” Estes says, adding that Flannery “freely gives of her after-hours time to serve as a sounding board to brainstorm solutions to complex problems with fellow advisors.”

Meanwhile, says Wesley Swingley, interim chair and associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, administrators appreciate her: Flannery works to support incoming leadership and staff in their new roles.

“Her depth of knowledge with the institutional processes and common student issues and concerns has proven invaluable in easing the transition,” Swingley says, “and not leaving students in the lurch.”

Beyond Zulauf Hall, Flannery is a member of the Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities, served on the 2020 Tutoring Advisory Committee, participated in a Themed Learning Community as an instructor and taught UNIV 101.

Off campus, the 19-year NIU employee serves on the NICU Family Advisory Council at Rockford’s Javon Bea Hospital-Riverside and is a parent-educator for the Loves Park-based Superhero Center for Autism.

Ellen Hamrick

When Ellen Hamrick became budget administrator in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, she had big shoes to fill.

No problem.

“Ms. Hamrick threw herself into the position,” says Judy Ledgerwood, professor of Anthropology and acting dean then.

“She is meticulous with budgets, and immediately grasped the range and complexity of finances of the college. Within a very short time, she not only had a handle of the finances but was making recommendations on how to handle the tight budget situation,” Ledgerwood adds. “She was a great support during my time as dean, always prepared and professional, always cheerful and supportive of those around her.”

Colleagues across campus echo that, calling the 12-year employee an ambitious, intelligent and accomplished professional with a “remarkable patience and admirable tact” who “loves people, works hard and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her.”

Her sensitivity and compassion have helped to resolve personnel issues, while she always is ready to provide resources to new colleagues and cover for others on leave.

“I have always found her dependable, efficient and unfailingly punctual,” says Mandy Kreitzer, director of Finance and Resource Planning for the College of Health and Human Sciences. “I have never worked with a person who gives as much attention to detail as she does.”

Kreitzer remembers working with Hamrick to complete the university’s financial reporting package for the controller’s office; during that time, Hamrick also spent countless late hours supporting her college in budget development.

That enriches efficiency, Kreitzer says: “She has been exceptional at helping myself and other colleagues and staff navigate information so that they can understand, and then help the next person. It really is a domino impact that is outside of any job description.”

Off work, Hamrick volunteers at Serenity Hospice and Home in Oregon.

Date posted: April 7, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Operating Staff Outstanding Service Award recipients announced

Categories: Awards Faculty & Staff Homepage Uncategorized

Four members of NIU’s Supportive Professional Staff are winners of the 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence.

Each is an ambassador for the university in their own unique way, but all work to innovatively and professionally ensure the success of their departments, building programs and the campus as a whole. These SPS Presidential Award recipients play a vital role in the day-to-day life at NIU, and in the overall reputation of the university.

The recipients are: Carolyn Law, thesis/dissertation advisor for the Graduate School; Dan Pedersen, director of Housing and Residential Services; Kristin Schulz, executive director of the Child Development and Family Center, and Jason Underwood, director of Instructional Design and Development, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.

Each will receive a check for $1,500 and a plaque and be honored at a virtual ceremony on April 15 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Carolyn Law

Carolyn Law, thesis/dissertation advisor for NIU’s Graduate School

As the thesis/dissertation advisor for NIU Graduate School, Carolyn Law plays a vital role in a graduate student’s culminating experience as they submit their thesis or dissertation for graduation.

Brad Bond, dean of the Graduate School, calls Law a “genius with the thesis/dissertation genres” and a “true educator” who devotes her time to teaching students and faculty advisors on the topic.

“Through workshops, one-on-one tutoring, departmental and college level seminars, she teaches about the genres, how to be successful in completing a thesis or dissertation, and how to meet Graduate School and Pro-Quest requirements for depositing documents,” Bond said.

Bond said Law has consistently been on the cutting edge of the genres. Back in 2008, under Law’s leadership, NIU was one of the first universities to shift to electronic submissions. In turn, she coordinated with NIU librarians to make paper-bound theses and dissertations available online through Huskie Commons.

Graduate students lauded her for her “unflagging commitment to NIU’s guiding principles, devotion to intellectual rigor and her generosity of spirit that suffuses her work.”

Faculty also sing her praises, citing her expertise, efficiency and dedication in working behind-the-scenes to ensure student success.

Dan Pedersen

Dan Pedersen, director of Housing and Residential Services

Dan Pedersen is described as “a forward thinker” who leads his department with transparency, passion, and a critical eye for improving services for NIU students. He is a respected supervisor, mentor, and friend who colleagues cite as “an exemplary professional who is entirely deserving of this recognition.”

Matt Streb, chief of staff to the President, called Pedersen a “Huskie through and through,” and an individual who is committed to NIU’s mission, vision and values.

“Dan represents the best of NIU,” Streb said. “He is selfless, hardworking, compassionate and empathetic. I am grateful to have him on our team.”

As director of Housing and Residential Services, Pedersen plays a crucial role in making sure that NIU students are healthy, safe and supported. It’s a complicated role in a typical year, and this year was anything but typical.

Under Pedersen’s leadership, students had a successful move-in amidst a pandemic. He also managed the quarantine and isolation of COVID-19 positive students who lived in residence halls, and consistently went above and beyond the call of duty to support students.

Pederson accomplished all of this while tirelessly working to maintain the morale of his professional and student staff, and demonstrating his commitment to student-centered service.

Kristin Schulz

Kristin Schultz, executive director of the Child Development and Family Center

On a daily basis, Kristin Schulz is the kind of employee who demonstrates her willingness and dedication to assume tasks well beyond her job description. Currently the Executive Director of the Child Development and Family Center (CDFC), Schulz has been a key member of NIU’s childcare enterprise since 2004, working in roles ranging from teacher through administration.

Schulz is a strong and respected leader who is described by faculty, staff, parents and administrators as “kind, collaborative, accessible and unflappable.” She is a problem-solver who leads by example, demonstrating exceptional service to the center’s children, families and staff.

In turn, she is dedicated to the early childhood profession, both locally and nationally. She is an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), as well as the National Coalition for Campus Child Care.

Locally, she is a leader within the Northern Illinois chapter of the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children and the Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) director’s group. Under her guidance, the CDFC has received several external grants that benefit children and their families from the NIU and DeKalb communities.

“When I reflect on the totality of Kristin’s contributions to the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Northern Illinois University community, and to the residents of the DeKalb/Sycamore area, I cannot think of a person who better exemplifies the principles articulated in NIU’s mission, vision, and values,” said Thomas Pavkov, chair, School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Jason Underwood

Jason Underwood, director of Instructional Design and Development

During a time when teaching and learning needs changed in an instant because of the pandemic, Jason Underwood stepped up to take responsibilities beyond the expectations of his position to support students, faculty, staff and administration.

As the director of Instructional Design and Development, Underwood oversees all aspects of instructional design and development initiatives for the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. His efforts over the past 11 years illustrate his tireless commitment to excellence and to the university’s mission.

Colleagues call him a “shining example of the attitude and work ethic that every Supportive Professional Staff should aspire to” and a “go-to resource for all things about teaching remotely.”

Underwood willingly took on the challenge to personally lead the configuration and implementation of a new campus video hosting platform (Kaltura) and singlehandedly developed all student, faculty and staff training and support materials. He also co-led the effort to redesign the Online Course Design Academy into a boot camp for training NIU faculty for emergency remote instruction.

“Jason is a real asset to NIU as he serves a vital role that’s critical to the success of our teaching and learning mission,” said Jason Rhode, executive director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. “His significant contributions beyond the expectations of his position, his commitment to professional development, and his involvement in committees and organizations within NIU and outside NIU deserve recognition.”

Date posted: April 7, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on SPS Presidential Awards for Excellence recipients announced

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No playbook existed for how the sports industry could react to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jobs and revenue were lost. Games, programs and seasons were canceled. Teams played without fans.

With a more positive outlook on the horizon, organizations, teams and participants now are working to rebrand sports in a post-COVID world.

The NIU College of Education’s next virtual Whiteboard Wednesday event, “Reimagining Sports in a Post-COVID World,” takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 14.

Registration is free and available online.

Four NIU alumni panelists will address some of the challenges that sports organizations, teams and players faced during the pandemic and explores some of the new ways of “doing business” in this industry.

Steven Howell, associate professor of Sports Management

Steven M. Howell, associate professor of Sport Management and acting associate chair in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, will moderate.


  • Evans Adonis (M.S. ’10), director of Membership Sales; Miami Marlins
  • Michaela Franklin (M.S. ’20), head Women’s Volleyball coach; Clemson University
  • Michael Gonzalez (M.S. ’15), assistant to the general manager; San Francisco 49ers
  • Max Scharping (B.S. ’17; M.S.Ed. ’18), offensive lineman; Houston Texans

Contact Dana King at [email protected] or (815) 753-5421 for more information.

Date posted: April 7, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on April 14 Whiteboard Wednesday to examine challenges to sport industry during COVID-19

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The Northern Illinois University Chemistry Club invites the public to its annual Chemistry Demo Night to be held virtually via Zoom, with the interactive livestream to begin at 6 p.m. Friday, April 16.

Register to attend the virtual event.

This year’s theme is “Kitchen Chemistry,” featuring some experiments everyone can perform at home using readily available materials. The event is free and suitable for all ages.

“We started planning this at the end of fall semester and have worked hard for this moment,” Chemistry Club President Kari Kress says. “There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work that went on. However, I think it’s important for kids to know that science is everywhere. You can turn your own kitchen into a science lab — as long as you don’t take it too far.”

Faculty and staff members helping with this year’s demo include the Chemistry Club’s faculty advisor, Professor Oliver Hofstetter, as well as Len Lennergard and James Barker from NIU’s Integrated Media Technologies office.

“While it is unfortunate that this year’s Chem Demo cannot be held in a face-to-face format, we hope that our audience will appreciate our effort to put together this virtual show,” Hofstetter says. “I am sure that they will enjoy watching these experiments, some of which they can even do at home.”

The show will include many new experiments such as Luke Ali’s “Edible Halo-Halo Dessert with Glowing Jell-O” and Corey Weinberg’s “Flammable Coffee Creamer.”

NIU’s Chemistry Club typically hosts an in-person demonstration show. Due to public health guidance, this year’s presentation will take place on Zoom.

“I’m so excited that we can once again perform these experiments for the public,” says Weinberg, Chemistry Club vice president. “Events like these are what really defines the NIU Chem Club, and everyone in the club has gone above and beyond to take time out of an already difficult school year to show their passion for chemistry and making people smile. We hope you enjoy the virtual show, and we can’t wait to see you all back in person.”

More information about this event and other activities of the Chem Club can be found on Facebook at Northern Illinois University Chemistry Club or Instagram @niu_chemclub.

For questions, please contact Kari Kress at [email protected]


Date posted: April 7, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Chem Club slates virtual Chemistry Demo for April 16

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