Northern Illinois University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sean T. Frazier agreeing to extend his contract. The university also intends to promote Frazier to vice president and director of Athletics and Recreation, pending Board of Trustees approval at a future meeting.
The move extends Frazier’s contract through June 30, 2026. His new title will reflect both the promotion to vice president as well as the integration of NIU’s Department of Recreation with Huskie Athletics over the past year.
Frazier, who began his ninth year as the leader of NIU’s 17-sport intercollegiate athletics program in 2021-22, has guided the Huskies to historic milestones competitively, academically and socially, cemented his status as both a national and community leader on diversity and inclusion and led successful fundraising efforts that have transformed the student-athlete experience at NIU.
With the NIU Convocation Center, the Huskie Marching Band, and most recently, NIU Recreation, added to the NIU Athletics family during his tenure, Frazier’s influence and forward-thinking leadership extends throughout the campus and community.
“Sean Frazier has expertly guided NIU Athletics forward through some of the most challenging circumstances in school history,” said NIU President Dr. Lisa Freeman. “Our student-athletes and programs continue to excel in competition and in the classroom while making a positive impact in the community and representing Northern Illinois University with integrity.
“Sean’s impact on NIU extends well beyond the realm of intercollegiate athletics as he is nationally recognized as a leader in the areas of diversity and inclusion. I’m excited to see NIU Athletics, as well as the other units under Sean’s direction, continue to grow and thrive.”
While appreciative of the confidence Freeman and the Board of Trustees have shown in him, Frazier said he is focused on the future and building on the success of the past eight years.
“The work never ends, and we will continue to strive to take NIU Athletics to new heights,” Frazier said. “As we finalize this process, I want to thank President Freeman and members of the Board of Trustees for their continued trust and opportunity to serve NIU and its students, and to lead a tremendous group of coaches and staff who work extremely hard on a daily basis to move this department forward.”
Over the last year alone, while navigating a global pandemic that forced changes in scheduling, health and safety protocols and the ability to welcome fans to NIU venues, the Huskies achieved record-breaking fundraising and engagement numbers. That continued an upward trend in both metrics over the last five years as Frazier and his leadership team have worked to create new revenue streams and fundraising initiatives (Huskies Invest; Victor E. Ball/Bash) while adapting to changes in state support, NCAA opportunities (NIL, Cost of Attendance) and more.
NIU teams have claimed 10 Mid-American Conference championships during Frazier’s tenure at NIU, the most MAC titles won under the leadership of any athletic administration in school history, while producing student-athletes across the sports spectrum who have claimed All-America honors. In addition, student-athletes from seven different sports have been named Academic All-Americans by the College Sports Information Directors of America 12 times since 2013-14.
NIU student-athletes finished the 2020-21 academic year with a school record cumulative GPA of 3.35, with 15 teams recording a team GPA above 3.0. Every NIU sports program surpassed the Academic Progress Rate for the 13th straight year, and nearly 90% of student-athletes who have entered NIU over the last seven years have earned their degrees, according to the latest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figures.
Work has begun on the third strategic plan document of Frazier’s NIU tenure. The first plan was introduced in May 2015, and the second was unveiled in the fall of 2019. Each provides a blueprint with comprehensive goals to ensure the continuing success of Huskie Athletics while upholding the core values and commitment to the department’s mission.
Date posted: September 23, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on NIU agrees to extend Sean Frazier’s contract
Despite the pandemic, the university’s research, service and engagement enterprises are firing on all cylinders. External funding awarded to faculty and staff hit a 10-year high in Fiscal Year 2021.
According to the latest Annual Report from NIU’s Sponsored Programs Administration, 127 faculty and staff members won 343 awards for research, instruction, outreach, public service and other activities, totaling $80 million. Federal COVID-19 funds accounted for a significant share of that dollar amount, but even in their absence, sponsored funding is at its highest level in a decade, having increased by nearly 50% over the last five years.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for faculty and staff, especially considering the many challenges of the past year,” said Dara Little, assistant vice president for research and sponsored programs within NIU’s Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships (RIPS).
Funding specifically for NIU research reached $14.3 million, also a 10-year-high. Among the NIU research projects:
Building a system to convert carbon dioxide waste into fuel.
Creating a novel pediatric hearing aid.
Advancing long-range severe weather forecasts.
Developing a Spanish-language mobile app to treat depression and anxiety.
Assisting in the recovery of an endangered turtle species.
Studying the combined use of robots and virtual reality in children’s learning.
“From the perspective of an experimental scientist like me, external funding enables us to design, conduct and realize novel and impactful experiments using cutting-edge facilities such as Argonne, where we aren’t limited by the availability to instruments and equipment,” Xu said. “External funding also supports talented students so they can focus their time on the forefront of research without having to worry about their financial support.”
Xu said he’s grateful for the work of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), which supports faculty and staff engaged in external funding efforts.
“NIU SPA staff members always provide professional service to make sure each part of our proposals, particularly the budget, is in compliance with the funding agencies’ requirements so that the proposals will be reviewed,” Xu said.
Most NIU colleges saw increases in their total research award amounts in FY21.
One example is the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET), where external funding nearly doubled over the previous year, to $2 million. CEET Dean Donald Peterson said the college sought to strategically expand its research enterprise to support its doctoral students. In 2019, CEET launched doctoral degree programs in mechanical, electrical, and industrial and systems engineering.
“When the Ph.D. programs came on board, we started thinking about how to secure more research funding to support our talented Ph.D. students,” Peterson said. “We wanted to identify the pathways that would be the most successful.”
In collaboration with RIPS, the college contracted with Hanover Research, a company that provides targeted guidance to bolster the quality, volume and success rates of grant applications. Eight faculty members participated in a grant-writing cohort led by Hanover (with another round of eight this academic year). At the same time, Peterson said, deans and associate deans enhanced mentorship of faculty seeking support for their research.
“The Ph.D. programs gave us the ability to go after these grants,” said Peterson, who added that the research projects benefit undergraduates, too. “We get all of our undergrads involved in research from day one.”
Beginning this semester, RIPS also is providing research development support across campus through a pilot grantsmanship program that aims to help NIU faculty focus their research enterprises, foster interdisciplinary collaborations and sharpen their grant-writing skills. The STARS Faculty Academy (which is still accepting participants) was inspired by a doctoral-level course taught by Melani Duffrin, a professor of Interdisciplinary Health Professions who has an impressive track record in the external-funding arena.
“We want to help our faculty develop research, service, and outreach programs to meet real-world challenges head-on with interdisciplinary, forward-thinking research and artistry projects,” Blazey said. “Importantly, their work creates opportunities for our students to be involved in projects on the leading edge of their disciplines. In this way, we’re encouraging the next generation of innovators.”
Competitive research and instruction are among the key components of NIU’s total external funding portfolio, but public service awards also were a significant factor in FY21.
Public service projects bring various resources and capabilities of NIU to the community in response to local needs. These projects attracted 39 awards totaling more than $17 million in external funding this past year. Read more about these and other projects in the Sponsored Programs Administration annual report.
Date posted: September 22, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on NIU research funding hits 10-year high
Fourteen NIU College of Education students will travel to Kenya and Tanzania in 2022 for a personal immersion to understand the challenges of not only learning another language but learning in it.
Pending COVID restrictions at the time, the new Educate Global experience in East Africa will transport seven undergraduate teacher-licensure candidates and seven graduate students who are already professional, practicing teachers.
The travelers also will receive pre-departure orientation that includes pedagogical training, lessons about race and culture, a book discussion and some basic Kiswahili.
During their five-week visit, the Huskies will interact with students and teachers at three schools to observe instruction in action, share U.S. pedagogical strategies through conversations – not lectures, Wasonga says – and help the teens to write their autobiographies.
Visits to nonprofit organizations and meetings with local leaders also are planned.
Grant recipients Wasonga, Cohen and Thurmaier foresee numerous and widespread benefits, especially for the NIU contingent.
One is “a crash-course in self-understanding,” Cohen says.
“They will learn who they are as cultural beings,” he says. “The fastest and easiest way to learn your strengths and your weaknesses is to travel to a different country. The language, the culture, the people – everything is different. You’re doing a lot of self-reflection that is forcing you to understand yourself better.”
Another is professional.
“We want a situation where the teachers from here can interact with the teachers there and, in that process, see how they can benefit the other side and how the other side can benefit them,” says Wasonga, co-founder of the Jane Adeny Memorial School in Kenya that will serve as one of the sites.
Because instruction in Kenya “doesn’t quite allow for critical thinking, we tend to do a lot of rote learning over there,” Wasonga says. “It’s very narrow, very limited and very academically focused so that kids literally just learn what the book says and not question it.”
Yet that doesn’t mean the children are not intelligent or competent, she adds, as Kenyans speak three languages: the mother tongues of their various regions; the national language of Kiswahili; and English, the language of instruction.
“Our students probably will find that to be confusing – or maybe thrilling,” she says. “We think it will be a significant observation for them.”
So will their unfamiliar status as the minority in countries where everyone is Black.
Cohen wonders how that will change their perspectives as teachers. Will they become aware of the role that race plays at home? Will they reflect on themselves differently as cultural and racial beings? Will they grow?
“The United States is a highly racialized society, and despite the fact that both Kenya and Tanzania were colonized, they’re more tribal than racial,” Cohen says.
“The people we’re going to be taking there, having been raised in the United States, all have racialized perspectives, whether they acknowledge them or not,” he adds. “What we’re hoping is to remove race, in a sense, from the equation – and to see how our students can actually interact with their students as much as possible by mediating that racialized perspective. It’s going to be an experiment.”
He will require the NIU students to reflect through journaling about their experiences, observations and realizations while visiting a foreign country.
“It shatters your assumptions about how the world is,” says Thurmaier, who has led six NIU Study Abroad groups to Tanzania since 2009 and traveled internationally as a student himself, “and shattering assumptions is, I think, really good, because you want to make judgments, decisions and plans based on evidence. That’s fundamental to what’s going to happen here.”
“I’ve been to nearly 40 countries. When I went to Tanzania, it changed me. It put things into perspective that I needed as an adult and as a human being,” he says, referring to the destitution. “I was only there for two weeks – not five, but just two weeks – and it really made a difference of who I am. I don’t really complain about many things anymore. I really don’t.”
Wasonga points to an interview of Oprah Winfrey.
“Somebody asked, ‘You know there are many poor kids in the U.S. Why did you go to South Africa to build a school?’ And she said, ‘Poverty is not the same,’ ” Wasonga says.
“Poverty in Tanzania and Kenya is very different from poverty in the U.S.,” she adds, “and what I’ve noticed in students who’ve come to Kenya is that their lives are completely transformed when they come back here. Things that they had thought were problems for them begin to look like, ‘This is not anything to worry about.’ ”
In the end, the grant recipients say, the travelers will become better teachers.
They will question preconceived notions about how students learn, revise lesson plans, modify instruction and reconsider expected outcomes.
And, Wasonga says, if any of the selected travelers work in less-diverse schools districts, the African experience should benefit their students of color.
“Sometimes we need to shock ourselves, and we can’t do that if we stay in the same environment,” she says. “When you change environments, you begin to see things very differently.”
“My hope,” Cohen adds, “is that when they come back, they’re not going to be looking at black people – and brown people, too – from a deficit lens. They will be looking at different people from a strengths perspective, a funds-of-knowledge perspective.”
“First, I hope that it will guard NIU students against jumping to conclusions or assumptions about their own students, especially students of color,” he says.
“Just because someone has a Hispanic-sounding name doesn’t mean that you know anything about them, or their life, or their family. You have to actually engage with them to find out. Just because someone has black skin doesn’t mean they all have the same experiences on the West Side of Chicago.”
Second, he says, is for future and current teachers “to appreciate how learning about others helps you understand yourself better.”
It’s basic to studying abroad, he says.
“You learn so much about yourself, your aspirations and your assumptions, and you appreciate better how you got to where you are now because you appreciate how other people got to that moment when you engage with them,” Thurmaier says, “and, knowing that you got there that way, and that the people in front of you got better that way, fundamentally changes the way you engage with your students, with their peers, with their parents, with the stakeholders and so on. That’s a big win.”
Date posted: September 22, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Educate Global trip will send current, future teachers to Kenya, Tanzania
NIU College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) doctoral student, Alexis Briley, was selected as the recipient of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation’s 2021 Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship. The award includes $10,000 to be used for the 2021-2022 academic year.
“I was so excited to learn that I was selected to receive the Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation,” said Briley, who lives in Greenville, North Carolina. “I am deeply honored and appreciative of the foundation’s support towards my academic endeavors.”
Briley, asingle mom who works full-time as a renal dietitian in an outpatient dialysis clinic, is in her third year as a part-time student in the Health Sciences doctoral program at NIU.
“By awarding me this scholarship, the foundation has greatly reduced my financial burden,” Briley said. “This will allow me to focus on completing my course work and work on my dissertation research while preparing for the candidacy exam in fall of 2022.”
Dr. Melani Duffrin, professor of Health Sciences, is Briley’s academic advisor and a champion for her success.
“I want to thank my advisor and mentor, Dr. Melani Duffrin, for her unwavering guidance and support during my doctoral journey here at NIU,” Briley said.
Briley’s doctoral research will target chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients (in stages four and five). Her focus will be on developing a nutrition educational software that will serve to improve renal outcomes with a goal of slowing the progression of CKD and advancing the field of dietetics in renal nutrition.
Dr. Beverly H. Henry, CHHS interim associate dean for Research and Resources, said Briley’s award is well deserved.
“I am so glad to hear that Alexis received this support,” Henry said. “We know that her work will continue to contribute to her field with clinical practice and research; Alexis is a great example of how our Health Sciences doctoral students demonstrate excellence in many different arenas.”
NIU Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISYE) Assistant Professor Jaejin Hwang, Ph.D. recently published a book that helps readers communicate the concepts of quality control by applying the skill of storytelling with the data analytics and visualization software Tableau.
The book entitled, “Data Analytics and Visualization in Quality Analysis using Tableau” that he co-authored with Youngjin Yoon, takes readers from introduction to Tableau through an advanced lesson in how to perform effective quality control and analysis using Tableau. It also reviews the many features and functions of quality analysis tools and instructs users on how to complete the functions. Readers also are provided with case studies and an example of a dashboard that helps to apply the information. Upon completion of the book, readers will have the skills to tell compelling stories with data used strategically in data dashboards.
Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Jaejin Hwang.
“Quality is an essential factor that is indispensable in modern industrial society… and is directly related to customer satisfaction and company profits. Due to the growing amount of data, it has become more important to identify critical factors that affect the quality and communicate quickly to the stakeholders,” said Hwang. “[Tableau is] a data visualization tool that helps meet these needs by assisting users to explore the massive data creatively and develop an interactive data dashboard to be easily updated and shared with the stakeholders.”
Hwang explained that this book is ideal for anyone working or studying in the fields of engineering, technology, business and management, and related disciplines. In addition, anyone who is a professional practitioner in quality and reliability engineering, manufacturing and development, management, and product design.
NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) offers degree programs in ISYE, plus biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, engineering technology, mechanical engineering and mechatronics. For more information about CEET visit niu.edu/ceet.
Date posted: September 22, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Communicating quality control principles with data storytelling
Be a part of a fun new tradition with our Homecoming Brunch, hosted by the NIU Alumni Association and NIU Foundation, on Saturday. Oct. 2. from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Join NIU mascot Mission while enjoying brunch in front of historic and picturesque Altgeld Hall on College Ave. The brunch will take place outdoors under a tent, so please dress accordingly.
Each registration includes a full buffet of scrambled eggs, hashbrown casserole, bacon, fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy, assorted pastries, coffee and juice. Guests who are over 21 years old will receive one ticket for a beer from Pollyanna Brewing Company (Dawgma & Fruhauf) or a bloody mary featuring Blue Ice Handcrafted Vodka with their tickets. Additional bar beverage tickets will be available for purchase for $5.
Parking is available in the lot on the north side of the lagoon, located off of College Ave., as well as in the art building parking lot, located off of College Ave.
The Huskie Pups shuttle will be running from 10 to 11:45 a.m. to bring guests to The Yard and the stadium.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, together with the Center for Black Studies, the College of Law and Delta Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. proudly welcome noted civil rights leader and attorney Ben Crump as the next guest in their Rebuilding Democracy Lecture Series at 7 p.m. CST Sept. 22.
The hour-long event, conducted on Zoom, will feature Crump discussing a variety of topics such as rebuilding democracy, civil rights, law and the courts with Deans Robert Brinkmann and Cassandra Hill. A moderated question and answer session will follow.
Inspired by the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice.
He has represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Nakia Jones, Danny Ray Thomas and Stephon Clark, as well as the residents of Flint, Michigan. Crump also represented the descendants of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her permission decades ago and are still being used for medical research today.
His tireless advocacy has led to legislation preventing excessive force and developing implicit bias training and policies. He has been nationally recognized as the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and Ebony Magazine Power 100 Most Influential African Americans. In 2016, he was designated as an Honorary Fellow by the University of Pennsylvania College of Law.
Crump is the President of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association and previously served as President of the National Bar Association. He was the first African-American to chair the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors and currently serves on the Innocence Project Board of Directors. He is the founder and director of the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute.
Among dozens of accomplishments, he has been recognized with the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, the American Association for Justice Johnnie Cochran Award, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Eleanor Roosevelt Medallion for Service.
Raised in the small city of Lumberton, North Carolina, by a single mother working as a hotel maid and in a Converse shoe factory, he witnessed the effects of slavery and racism firsthand. A first generation student, Crump earned his undergraduate degree at Florida State University and received his law degree from FSU College of Law.
Date posted: September 21, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Ben Crump to kickoff NIU’s Rebuilding Democracy Lecture Series on Sept. 22
The superior safety tools available through the NIU SAFE App mean that the familiar “Blue Light” call boxes will soon be disappearing from campus.
“Today, the best emergency call box you can have, is the cell phone in your hand, with the NIU Safe App on it,” said NIU Acting Chief of Police Darren Mitchell.
This product, developed by AppArmor, is used by hundreds of higher education institutions and millions of students across the globe. It provides members of the campus community access to features like the Friend Walk, Safe Walk and Mobile Blue Light.
The black pillars, topped with blue lights that flashed when activated, have been part of the campus safety network for more than 25 years, Mitchell said. “They were once the state-of-the-art in campus safety, but improvements provided by tools like the NIU Safe App are making them obsolete.”
They will not be missed, however, because the NIU Safe App is far superior. For instance, the Friend Walk feature allows users to let friends virtually monitor them as they walk to a destination and then instantly summon police to their location should trouble arise, Mitchell said. He noted that the Safe Walk feature takes that to an even higher level, allowing users to let a police dispatcher monitor their progress as they walk home.
Finally, the Mobile Blue Light that is part of the app is more useful than the call boxes because, once activated, it allows police to find the individual who activates the alarm no matter where they go. “The call boxes direct us to a specific location, but if you leave that spot, we cannot find you. The mobile app will lead us right to you, even if you stay on the move.”
Also, Mitchell points out, all of the features of the app, including Safe Walk, Friend Walk, Mobile Blue Light and others – work not just on campus but also throughout the off-campus neighborhoods where many students live.
“It’s a superior safety tool in every way and we strongly urge all members of the campus community to download it and use it,” Mitchell said.
NIU’s Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, adopted in 2019, included a call for the university to identify and pilot innovative financial aid programs.
That work is ongoing – and already paying dividends.
While NIU celebrates the fifth straight year of growth among incoming freshmen, with that specific enrollment sector climbing by nearly 12% this fall over the same time last year, the numbers of students with grants covering tuition and fees through the Huskie Pledge and the new Rockford Promise are also rising.
NIU met the Huskie Pledge for 877 students (39% of incoming freshmen) who will pay no tuition and fees out of pocket for their first year and potentially beyond. That count is more than 20% greater than Fall 2020, and includes 361 graduates of the Chicago Public Schools who helped to contribute to an 11.5% jump in enrollment from the state’s largest district.
Similarly, nearly 100 new freshmen who live in Rockford and graduated from Rockford Public School District 205 qualified for the first year of the Rockford Promise program at NIU.
Both programs require that recipients maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher at NIU to renew their grants each year.
Given their average high school GPAs of 3.53, persistence towards degrees looks achievable.
“A more GPA-based system allows students to have access to financial resources, and it helps give them clarity and more financial stability over the years because it’s not based on year-to-year income changes,” said Samantha McCarron, NIU director of Financial Aid.
“They know they have it, and they know that that as long as they perform, they get to keep it – and that they are fully in control of that,” McCarron added. “I think it goes to support our goals of making education equitable for everyone.”
Indeed, 72% of Huskie Pledge recipients and 79% of Rockford Promise recipients are first-generation college students. Meanwhile, 83% and 59% are students of color, respectively.
Launched at NIU in 2020 to help talented students who might otherwise struggle to afford college and realize their dreams of higher education, the Huskie Pledge enrolled more than 700 freshmen – 35% of the class. The grants are available to students whose family adjusted gross income, or family assets, are $75,000 or less.
Rockford Promise matches talent with opportunity and serves its region by educating the workforce of tomorrow. Students also enjoy mentoring, job-readiness training and access to a community of other area scholars.
Date posted: September 20, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on NIU attracts new freshmen with innovative financial aid programs
As a new school year begins, with the excitement of being on campus and participating in more in-person events, students new to NIU are met with a bunch of information. Part of this information includes our Sexual Misconduct Awareness and Prevention training program.
Required by the state, this online training helps prepare students to navigate social and romantic situations that may be new to them. They will also learn what it means to be an active bystander and how to safely intervene when they see behaviors that could be harmful to others. Ultimately, new Huskies will come away with knowledge about sexual misconduct, the necessity of consent and resources available to all students.
Students have received a message in their NIU email accounts announcing that the module is available via Blackboard and must be completed before Oct. 15, 2021. Prevention Education and Outreach, part of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI), is seeking support from across the university to encourage new students to take the training as early as possible in the semester.
“Many new Huskies are at their most vulnerable during the first few weeks of the semester, so we want to get this information into their hands as soon as possible,” said Allison Hurlburt, the program coordinator within Prevention Education and Outreach who oversees the training.
A great community partner of NIU is Safe Passage, DeKalb County’s domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center. Safe Passage services are free and confidential. They offer legal and medical advocacy, counseling and crisis services to the NIU community and the county. “The partnership with Safe Passage on advocacy services and prevention creates a relationship that benefits the NIU community. Safe Passage offers support and resources when students need it, no matter the time of day or when the abuse occurred.” Hurlburt mentions.
Prevention Education and Outreach also provide many other learning opportunities, with workshops, presentations and events throughout the school year. You can find and register for the events on the Prevention Education and Outreach calendar. The online module is required for new students to complete by Oct. 15, 2021, but Prevention Education and Outreach are encouraging students to take it as soon as possible as the resources will help students taking in person and virtual classes.
Date posted: September 20, 2021 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on New students required to complete sexual misconduct awareness and prevention training
Northern Illinois University is lighting up Holmes Student Center red and rolling out the red and black carpet for the 114th Homecoming celebration, Huskie Stars, Sept. 27 through Oct. 3.
“We are very excited to be returning to in-person activities for homecoming this year,” said Executive Director of Northern Illinois University Alumni Association (NIUAA), Reggie Bustinza. “This celebration is a result of the work of a campus-wide committee who focused on creating events that are inclusive and a mixture of old and new traditions.”
A new tradition includes a Homecoming Brunch hosted by the NIU Foundation and NIU Alumni Association that will be held outdoors in front of Altgeld Hall. And the cherished traditions, like tailgating in The Yard and cheering on the football team at Huskie Stadium, are among things alumni, students, faculty, staff and community members are looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to the homecoming game,” said freshman KaLilah Chears. “It’s been a while since I attended football games, so it’ll be very exciting to see the team in action.”
Chears, a member of the university’s Color Guard, said the team has the opportunity to perform during halftime of Saturday’s game versus Eastern Michigan.
“I haven’t performed on the field for over a year due to COVID, so being with the marching band for a huge event like this is thrilling,” Chears said.
Senior Arieonnia Brown said she’s looking forward to attending the Black Alumni events that take place throughout the week.
“The homecoming party is always a good time with friends and it’s a party that my out-of-town family can come out to enjoy with me,” Brown said.
There are a number of events being offered campus-wide, like A Night at Holmes on Oct. 1 for an evening of fun, music, games and prizes.
“There are many homecoming events, so surely everyone can find something that they’re interested in attending,” Chears said. “This gives students an opportunity to discover organizations and clubs that’ll make their college experience more enjoyable.”
Brown shared the sentiment.
“I hope (all Huskies) take the time to meet great people,” Brown said. “We all deserve to enjoy our lives to the fullest, especially after quarantining for a whole year.”
“We are excited to host our second annual NIU LGBTQ+ Alumni and Friends Homecoming Virtual Social,” said Molly Holmes, director of NIU’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. “We had such a great turnout last year, particularly with participants being able to log on from across the country representing all time zones.”
Holmes said she anticipates an even larger presence this year and looks forward to being part of growing future Huskie homecoming events.
“We’re thankful that this is one of the many ways that NIU demonstrates its value of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Holmes said. “LGBTQ+ alumni and friends are a valued part of the NIU family at their time at NIU and beyond.”
NIU will be featured among the award’s 101 recipients in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
The accolade recognizes NIU’s campus-wide efforts to create an environment that celebrates diversity in all its forms.
“At NIU, we know that the differences, along with the commonalities, of all who live, study and work here, shape our Huskie family in so many meaningful ways,” NIU President Lisa Freeman said. “Our focus is to create an inclusive university experience where all feel that they truly belong and can be successful. We’re honored to be recognized for the progress we’re making.”
NIU’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Vernese Edghill-Walden.
In 2015 as the university’s then executive vice president and provost, President Freeman spearheaded efforts to centralize equity and inclusion at NIU with the appointment of the university’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Vernese Edghill-Walden, and the creation of the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“We have recognized for a long time that talent is universal, whereas opportunity is not,” said Edghill-Walden, chief diversity officer and vice president for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Validation from INSIGHT Into Diversity affirms our commitment to developing inclusive and equitable practices and is helpful as we share our successes and continue to create equity-minded practices and build an inclusive community.
“This award means that we are making meaningful and transformational changes and that with persistence and courage we will continue this important work. NIU’s mission, vision, and values are about equity, respect, building a better society, being accountable, and being strengthened by diversity. Creating a just and equitable campus community is a 24/7 commitment and responsibility, not just when classes are in session.”
Open to all colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, the HEED Award measures an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach efforts.
“We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
The application process was comprehensive and rigorous, involving questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.
It took a campus-wide effort to both apply for and win the award, university leaders say.
“The faculty, staff and students at Northern Illinois University are committed to talking the talk and walking the walk,” said Tamara Boston, who spearheaded the application process as project coordinator for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We recognize that actions speak louder than words, and the work demonstrated in the application for the award speaks volumes.”
The university has made it a priority to remove barriers to a high quality education for students from all walks of life, advance the upward mobility of students, improve retention, close equity gaps in degree attainment and promote timely degree completion, said Beth Ingram, executive vice president and provost.
NIU’s incoming class freshmen class is the most diverse in university history.
“At NIU, we’re committed to creating an academic culture that ensures equitable access, opportunity and outcomes for all of our students,” Ingram said.
“We’re doing the hard work necessary to address systemic inequities and foster a more inclusive campus culture, knowing that achieving some goals and outcomes will require sustained, long-term effort, while other actions can lead to rapid, positive change. NIU faculty, staff and students are working to create and sustain a university community where every Huskie feels valued and has the opportunity to thrive.”