Linze Rice felt empowered at NIU to live her life fully and openly, particularly when it came to promoting LGBTQ causes.
The alumnus, who graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, has taken that empowerment and launched her own public relations, communications and photography firm. Through Pink House Media, Rice aims to share inspiring stories and pitch those stories to media contacts.
“My goal is to help uplift the positive stories of people working hard to make change in the world, especially in my hometown area of DeKalb County,” she said. “I want to help empower and uplift all those good stories I know are out there, people I know who are doing amazing things.”
While at NIU, Rice worked at the Northern Star as a reporter, earning an Ally Award for her coverage of LGBTQ topics. The Ally Award is given to individuals, departments and groups who have done something positive for the LGBTQ community.
Linze at the Northern Star during her time as an NIU undergraduate student
She wants to bring that same positivity to her new business.
“We definitely want to work with women-owned businesses and highlight the success women are having, as well as LGBTQ organizations, or those who contribute to LGBTQ causes, and make a concerted effort especially to be working with those businesses and telling those stories,” she said. “That’s definitely one thing that is important to us and what we do.”
Growing up on a pig farm in the Genoa area, Rice said she never imagined launching her own business in Chicago.
She credits her time at NIU and working for The Northern Star with giving her the inspiration to pursue her passion for writing.
NIU recently ranked in two “best” lists created by the Campus Pride Index, a national nonprofit working with researchers to generate national standards and assessment tools for LGBTQ-friendly institutions of higher education. With a ranking of four out of five stars, NIU was among a list of 60 of the 2018 Best LGBT-Friendly Online Schools, as well as a list of 25 of the 2018 Most Affordable LGBTQ-Friendly Online Colleges.
Rice has nothing but praise for her time here.
“The year before NIU, I had recently come out as a bisexual and queer to most of my friends and family. It was kind of an awkward thing to do,” Rice said. “By the time I got to NIU, I was like, ‘I’m going to live openly and fully and just be myself.’ I wrote columns about being bisexual and about different women’s issues and race issues and mental health issues.”
A couple years after graduation, Rice worked as a reporter and producer for DNAinfo.com Chicago, covering the city’s far north side Rogers Park and Edgewater neighborhoods. DNAinfo.com was shut down in November of 2017.
Rice then worked briefly for a small public relations firm, while building the confidence to strike out on her own.
“I need to go out there and make my own dreams happen. I think I have what it takes to at least hustle and give it my best shot,” she told herself.
“I would encourage everybody to follow their dreams,” she said. “Life is not a straight line and even when things might seem like you don’t know where things are headed, just keep at it and keep grinding at it and you’ll get there.”
Rice named Pink House Media after the Edgewater Beach Apartments building in her Chicago neighborhood.
“It’s a completely unique historic big pink building that everybody sees when they’re driving on Lakeshore Drive,” she said. “I just kind of became obsessed with it. It symbolizes standing out and being yourself.”
The building represents the underlying theme of her business, as well as her own way of living.
“Find what’s special about you and own it,” she said.
“There are so many incredible things organizations are doing today, but often I find companies aren’t sure how to talk about themselves. I help them suss out the most interesting and unique angles of their work, then create a shareable story and connect them with journalists.”
Date posted: July 2, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Ally Award-winning alumnus launches LGBTQ/women-focused PR firm
NIU’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost has named Omar Ghrayeb as vice provost for undergraduate studies. Ghrayeb joined NIU in 2001 as a Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering professor and rose to chair and then associate dean, helping the department nearly double its enrollment.
“Dr. Ghrayeb brings a wealth of experience and a strong vision for the role,” said Christopher K. McCord, acting executive vice president and provost. “I’m confident he will provide strong leadership in this important role.”
Ghrayeb will direct undergraduate curriculum and academic programming standards, and also oversee retention efforts, including reflecting multicultural perspectives to serve a diverse community of students.
Ghrayeb previously was named interim dean to lead the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. As department chair from 2006 to 2012, his curriculum updates and partnerships with major corporations like Caterpillar, Motorola and UPS provided more hands-on learning, internship and research opportunities for students and faculty members. Since 2010 when Grayeb took on associate dean duties, enrollment in the college increased by more than 40 percent, NIU strengthened its community college partnerships and restructured advising in the college.
Ghrayeb will have a five-year term in Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, effective Aug. 1, 2018. McCord said interim arrangements made in May will remain in place until then.
“I’d particularly like to thank Renique Kersh, Ed Klonoski and Jenny Parker for the added responsibilities they’ve taken on during this transition period,” said McCord. “I look forward to working with Dr. Ghrayeb in his new role, and hope you’ll all join me in welcoming him.”
Date posted: July 2, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Omar Ghrayeb named vice provost for undergraduate studies
Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced the appointment of retiring Illinois state representative Robert W. Pritchard to the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees.
Pritchard, a Hinckley resident, served in the Illinois House for 15 years, representing the 70thDistrict. Last year Pritchard announced he would not be seeking re-election. He will officially step down on Sunday, July 1, to accept the appointment to the NIU Board of Trustees, effective that same day.
Pritchard fills a vacancy left by veteran trustee Bob Boey, who retired from the board in March. His term had been set to expire in January 2019.
As a state representative, Pritchard worked on behalf of residents in portions of DeKalb, Boone and Kane Counties on a wide range of issues, including education, economic growth and fiscal responsibility.
A recognized leader in education policy, Pritchard was Republican Spokesperson on House education committees and was a member of the Governor’s Education Reform Commission, which produced the K-12 school funding reform agreement to adequately and equitably fund education throughout Illinois. His work with the bicameral Higher Education Working Group focused on issues of outmigration and affordability in Illinois higher education and resulted in significant legislation this spring. Pritchard also was instrumental in forming the bipartisan Legislative Education Caucus in 2005.
“Bob Pritchard has been a good friend to NIU, is a strong advocate for higher education and keenly understands the importance of our university to the region and state, along with the challenges we face,” NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman said. “We welcome him to the Board of Trustees and look forward to working with him in the future.”
Prior to serving in the State House, Pritchard was an elected member of the Hinckley-Big Rock Board of Education, DeKalb County Farm Bureau Board and DeKalb County Board, where he served as chairman. He also has been a visible leader in community and civic organizations.
“I feel strongly that education beyond high school is an essential component in developing Illinois’ workforce and making the state attractive to employers,” Pritchard said. “NIU—in partnership with local community colleges—prepares students to achieve their dreams and be contributing members of our economy.
“It has been a pleasure to represent NIU and advocate for the interests of students, faculty and all higher education institutions throughout my tenure in the House of Representatives,” he added. “I look forward to continued service to the region and Illinois in my new role as a NIU trustee.”
Pritchard holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and master’s degree in radio-TV production and direction, both from the University of Illinois. He and his wife, Mary, a professor and associate dean emerita at NIU, have two sons and four grandchildren. His private sector careers involved various facets of agribusiness. He grew up on a farm near Maple Park and continues to manage and operate the farm business with his son.
The NIU Board of Trustees will also be welcoming Nathan Hays to the board as the new student trustee. Hays has served in several leadership roles on campus, including as treasurer of the Student Association and as a member of the Presidential Search Preparation Committee. He replaces student trustee Giuseppe LaGioia, who graduated in May.
Date posted: June 28, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Gov. Rauner appoints Bob Pritchard to NIU Board of Trustees
A new umbrella safety policy approved earlier this year will touch virtually every NIU department and spur creation of function-specific sub-policies across campus.
A joint effort by the divisions of Research and Innovation Partnerships and Administration and Finance, the NIU Health and Safety Policy serves as an overarching guide for development of college and department-level policies and practices. It assigns responsibility at every level of NIU leadership, and calls for stepped-up reporting of safety-related incidents.
“Our goal is to see every unit have standard operating procedures, every employee be trained and every incident be reported,” said Jerry Blazey, vice president for Research and Innovation Partnerships. “This new policy is the public face of an extensive behind-the-scenes effort that’s been going on for two years, both nationally and at NIU.”
NIU’s move toward a unified safety effort is part of a national movement championed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). An APLU panel examined safety practices nationwide, and ultimately issued its Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture.
“This separate but highly coordinated effort by these two teams is key to delivering the right safety attention to our most hazardous activities,” said John Heckmann, associate vice president for Facilities Management and Campus Services.
“The engineering forge, equipment and props used in theater productions, ceramic kilns, welding labs, camera lifts, woodworking equipment, needles and other sharp objects in clinical settings – the list of potential hazards goes on and on,” Heckman said.
“There are few departments that don’t sponsor activities with some level of risk involved. We need to make sure that we have plans in place to mitigate that risk, keep people safe, and help us learn from the incidents that do happen.”
One of the key changes that must happen is better reporting of accidents and ‘near misses,’ according to Scott Mooberry, director of Environmental Health and Safety.
“People often hesitate to report things under the false belief that they might get in trouble,” Mooberry explained.
“We hope to dispel that notion and help people understand that it’s only by documenting accidents that we can keep them from happening again or happening in a much more serious way.”
To that end, Mooberry wants to create a new web-based reporting system that will give faculty, staff, students and vendors a place to take note of a potentially dangerous situation or practice.
“We need to make sure we’re providing a safe learning and working environment here,” said Shannon Stoker, director of NIU’s Office of Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety.
“There have been cases nationally where lab accidents have resulted in injury and loss of life. And beyond the lab, universities execute many operations that present potential hazards. To promote a culture of safety, we’ll look more closely and think more broadly about how to keep accidents from happening in every environment.”
While many departments have safety plans, some do not, and never before has there existed an umbrella policy covering the entire university – including contractors and subcontractors who perform work on NIU property.
Acting President Lisa Freeman says she hopes the new guidelines will “put safety on everyone’s radar.”
“We’re asking all department heads to look closely at their operations and identify potential risks,” Freeman said. “With this new policy in place, those leaders will have a place to turn for guidance in establishing their own, department-specific policies.”
For now, the policy will reside on the websites of Environmental Health & Safety, the Office of Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety, and the Office of the President. Eventually, it will take its place at the top of a safety section in the university’s new Policy Library.
Date posted: June 20, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Umbrella safety policy to guide all-campus effort
“It is a great honor for me to read a dedicated special issue of the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry with 33 papers, along with five additional dedicated journal articles published recently,” he said.
Collectively, the pieces speak to how influential Hosmane has been to the field of study. What isn’t visible is the journey he’s embarked on.
Growing up as a disadvantaged youth in India, education proved to be a life-changer for the NIU scientist. An assistantship to the University of Edinburgh set a course that the distinguished professor continues on today.
“As a student interested in a science subject, I was reading Alfred Stock’s book on Silicon Hydrides and Boron Hydrides. His work fascinated me to do research in these areas.”
Stock had died in 1946, so Hosmane contacted his student, Harry Emeleus of Cambridge University to inquire about conducting research under his tutelage. Emeleus was just about to retire, but he referred the aspiring scientist to contact his student, Evelyn A V Ebsworth at the University of Edinburgh.
While the assistantships were primarily for Scottish students, Hosmane had a stroke of good fortune.
“I received the assistantship and joined the University of Edinburgh in October 1971 as a Ph.D. student of Professor Ebsworth and completed my degree in September 1974.”
“Throughout my career I met many accomplished people, including Nobel Prize winners, Mother Teresa and the great Sanskrit Scholar Brahmarshi Daivaratha Sharma and all of them said that ‘we must please ourselves by setting a high-bar and bring a smile on our face rather than trying to please others, as others will never be satisfied with our performances.’ Those words were so true when I started my academic career.”
Boron chemistry developed in the mid-20thcentury, with Hosmane’s research programs at Southern Methodist University and NIU contributing to its significance. Success came with highs and lows.
“My first paper in the inaugural issue of an American Chemical Society journal “Organometallics” was rejected,” he said. “The rejection did not discourage me, instead it made me determined to publish my next work in Organometallics.”
Hosmane’s determination paid off. He went on to publish nearly 60 papers in Organometallics alone. Two decades after rejecting Hosmane’s first paper, the journal’s founding editor approached him to write an unprecedented review article. The scientist obliged, and was surprised when the founding editor complemented his body of research in his column.
A prolific researcher, Hosmane has published over 350 papers in leading scientific journals and author of five books on boron science, cancer therapies, general chemistry, advanced inorganic chemistry and boron chemistry in organometallics, catalysis, materials and medicine.
Recognized as one of the leading experts on boron chemistry and decorated with numerous national and international awards, one particular accolade is highly prized.
“In 2012 I received a note from Professor Ebsworth. His appreciation of my accomplishments is more than any prize one can get in a lifetime!”
The quest of scientific knowledge is still strong at age 70. Hosmane, who has been at NIU since 1998, is committed to exploring boron’s capabilities regarding cancer treatment and the mentorship of young, talented scientists.
Date posted: June 19, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on NIU chemist honored by his peers with a special journal issue
Highlights of the collaboration include a keynote presentation in which NIU STEM Read Director Gillian King-Cargile will interview Weir; a panel discussion on using fiction to fuel STEAM learning; a session on Gamifying Artemis, in which attendees will have a chance to play the STEM Read game based on Weir’s latest book; and a professional development “party on the moon” for STEAM educators.
Andy Weir at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. (Photo credit: NASA/James Blair and Lauren Harnett)
Weir, who worked as a software engineer until the success of The Martian allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime, is a natural collaborator for the NIU STEM Read team, whose mission is to integrate language arts, math and new science standards to help teachers increase enthusiasm for reading and learning.
King-Cargile says, “We’re thrilled to bring Andy Weir to the Chicago area. His books are hilarious and, at the same time, rooted in hard science. His diverse characters are whip-smart. They use brains and humor to solve problems and save lives. Andy is intelligent, funny and proud of being a geek. He’s the perfect partner to help us inspire teens and adults to read and learn more.”
King-Cargile and Kristin Brynteson, director of professional development for the NIU P-20 Center, are also excited to deepen their relationship with ISTE and connect with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) educators through the organization.
Brynteson says, “The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a global community of educators who recognize the power of technology to transform learning. The ISTE annual conference is one of my favorite educational events during the year. It is where I go to explore new tech, hear inspirational stories, see innovative classroom ideas and talk to and learn from inspiring educators. For me, ISTE is my time to recharge my edtech batteries.”
“The panels and presentations will be an opportunity for educators to learn more about our approach to STEM/STEAM teaching and learning as well as how we connect these concepts to fiction,” Brysteson says. “In our hands-on sessions, educators will have an opportunity to experience the activities and try them out. They will be fun, loud and messy. That’s how we like it!”
She continues, “We want our panels to be an exchange of ideas and sharing of resources. We love to share what we are doing but we also enjoy hearing from other educators how they are using their favorite books to connect students to STEAM.”
As part of Weir’s visit, the STEM Read team is also planning public events to give teens, parents and educators a chance to meet and hear from Weir.
On Tuesday, June 26, from 6 to 8 p.m., they will host a professional development party for STEAM educators at 1871, Chicago’s entrepreneurship and innovation space overlooking the Chicago River, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1212.
The event is $30 for the general public and $25 for those attending the ISTE conference (with a coupon code provided by ISTE). Space is limited, so register in advance at http://www.stemread.com/party-in-space/.
From 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, teens and parents are invited to Argonne National Laboratory for an evening with special guest Andy Weir, best-selling author of The Martian and Artemis, as well as researchers involved in energy storage, super-computing and nanotechnology. The event, “Future Telling: Imagining and Creating a Better World,” will explore how these experts forged their career paths and how creativity spurs innovation to bring about a brighter future.
The internal team guiding NIU through an Assurance Review may need some final feedback from divisions across campus as the Higher Learning Commission inspects the university’s report over the next month.
Four years ago, the commission reaccredited Northern Illinois University for the maximum period possible through 2024, after which NIU transitioned into the least restrictive track, the HLC Open Pathway. An Assurance Review is the first major institutional report in the Open Pathway’s 10-year cycle, requiring the university to complete a written assurance argument by June 25 for the period covering January 2014 through December 2017.
With the team submitting its final findings at the end of last week (June 15), the report has entered a lockdown period through July 23. However, offices around campus may receive tight-turnaround requests for additional evidence through that deadline as a group of peer reviewers evaluates NIU’s documentation to make recommendations to the HLC regarding accreditation.
“In 2014, they wanted to see a greater alignment of our resource allocation with our mission and priorities,” said Carolinda Douglass, vice provost for Institutional Effectiveness and NIU’s accreditation liaison officer to the HLC. “The themes that have emerged since then have included program prioritization, NIU Plus, diversity, engagement and transparency. More than 50 people were involved in writing the 35,000-word argument, with more than 1,000 pieces of associated evidence.”
The HLC will examine NIU’s assurance narrative for adherence to 21 core components linked to five accreditation criteria:
Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
Teaching and Learning—Quality, Resources and Support
Teaching and Learning—Evaluation and Improvement
Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness
“Through this process, we are able to bring to light the outstanding experience we provide our students academically as well as outside of the classroom,” said Kelly Wesener Michael, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, who helped author the assurance argument as part of the criteria group for Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct. “What is demonstrated throughout this process is that we are part of an amazing team who provides an exceptional education at a student-centered university.”
NIU will have a chance to respond to the HLC’s peer review before the team passes its proposals along to the commission’s Institutional Actions Council for action. The university then will receive a final report on the review this fall.
“What we’re hoping for is to get the all-clear through 2024, when the HLC will come for an on-site visit,” Douglass said.
Date posted: June 18, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Divisions may be contacted as HLC Assurance Review enters final stages
Databases of Northern Illinois University’s spring 2018 graduates and outstanding students are now available at niu.edu. The graduation, dean’s and academic excellence lists are searchable by last name, city or ZIP code.
NIU started distributing the lists in a new format last year, making Huskie accomplishments more shareable. Proud loved ones can post the lists on social media, while hometown news outlets across the country receive press releases on NIU student achievers who reside in their coverage areas.
Todd Gilson borrows a Disney term when describing the latest opportunity for Honors students at NIU.
“Frictionless,” he says.
That’s how Disney World promotes the wristband guests can use for nearly all of the park’s transactions. And that’s how Gilson, the director of the Honors Program, would like the experience to be for Honors students headed to graduate school.
“We want to make it as frictionless as possible,” Gilson says.
New partnerships between the Honors Program and at least four NIU graduate programs–with plans to add more–will provide guaranteed admission to undergraduate Honors students as space and program-specific criteria allow. Along with locked-in spots, students can apply to have their graduate program application fees reimbursed.
Only a few out of about 130 peer institutions throughout the country offer similar incentives.
“This is something that unquestionably sets this program apart from any other in the country,” Gilson says. “We definitely are in the forefront. This is something we at Honors are going to continually grow.”
NIU’s Honors Program already had three key selling points:
Priority registration for courses
Honors-only scholarship opportunities, including grants for research, travel and study abroad
The opportunity to live in exclusive clusters in the New Hall Honors House
Now, a fourth key benefit can be added, Gilson says. “I can point to a page in the catalogue and say, ‘This is something we have’; it is now the fourth pillar of benefits for students,” he says.
Through the partnership, University Honors students are eligible for reimbursement of their application fees through AcademicWorks once they’ve submitted their applications to their chosen programs.
About 1,000 students participate in the Honors Program. They’re encouraged to study abroad, network with top NIU alumni, participate in special events (such as trips to Broadway in Chicago) and conduct original research with faculty members (beginning as early as freshman year). This latest initiative gives them a direct link to graduate programs.
“I tell a lot of students to get as many letters after your name as you can as fast as possible,” Gilson says. “Once life starts, it’s going to be hard to do that. You get married, have kids and it gets harder.”
Master’s degrees help position students for career advancement, and this partnership provides a larger pool of recruits.
For the Global MBA Program, that could mean more students from typically underrepresented fields, such as those relating to STEM, says Balaji Rajagopalan, dean of the NIU College of Business.
“This is truly exciting for us,” Rajagopalan says. “Our vision for the Global MBA program has always been to attract as diverse a group as possible. Diversity comes in different forms, certainly in terms of cultural diversity, but this partnership helps us build disciplinary diversity.”
It also brings a greater awareness of the program, which “truly is a life-altering experience” for those involved, he says.
Students in the Global MBA Program not only benefit from the curriculum itself, but everything else that comes with it, says Anthony Preston, director of Global Programs.
Students participate in developmental workshops, career coaching and mentorship programs. Through a partnership with Mango Languages, students have access to online training in more than 200 languages. Newspapers from throughout the world are brought to class, and students are given the opportunity to earn two degrees–one from NIU and a Masters in International Management from Sapienza University in Italy.
Attracting NIU’s “very brightest and best” benefits all involved, Preston says.
In the Department of Political Science, three spots will be set aside each year for Honors students who meet the requirements.
Many don’t realize about 16 percent of the workforce works for government at the local, state and national levels, says Scot Schraufnagel, chair of the Department of Political Science. Many of the jobs, such as those with the FBI, the United States Secret Service and the United States Foreign Service, require advanced degrees.
“Increasingly, employers are looking for employees who have advanced degrees, and this allows NIU students to accomplish that in as little as five years with appropriate planning,” Schraufnagel says.
“Our graduate programs are fairly limited in size. We turn away a lot of people every year. These Honors students hopefully will give us some really highly qualified recruits.”
Depending on the year, graduate degree spots in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, also can be competitive, especially in Sports Management, says Chad McEvoy, chair of Kinesiology and Physical Education at NIU. Class sizes are kept reasonable to ensure students receive individual attention.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to recruit strong students,” he says. “For the Honors students who have an interest in our degree area, it creates an easy pathway for them to continue their education.”
The partnership also makes sense for Accountancy, which has a national reputation as a Top 20 graduate school program largely due to the quality of students enrolled, says Bradrick Cripe, assistant chair of the Department of Accountancy.
“Honors Program graduates are among NIU’s very best, and we want to offer those with non-accountancy bachelor’s degrees an opportunity to achieve a master’s degree that allows them to sit for the Certified Public Accountant [CPA] examination,” he says. “It truly is a match that benefits NIU and our graduates.”
Date posted: June 18, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Honors Program provides “frictionless” graduate admission
Karen Baker set out more than three decades ago to right the wrongs.
Through every opportunity, experience and degree she earned and with every title she held at NIU, Baker worked to create an environment of fairness. Those around her say she did just that.
Baker will retire at the end of this month from her position as the associate vice president for Affirmative Action and Employee and Labor Relations Title IX coordinator at NIU. Her devotion to NIU–having worked at the university in various positions since April of 1988–extends beyond her career.
The alumna earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics, a master’s degree in Adult Continuing Education and a law degree here.
“Northern is a place that if you work hard and you are open-minded you can take your career to a variety of places, and I was fortunate to have a job and mentors and supervisors and leadership that allowed me to grow,” she says.
“I grew beyond what I thought I was going to do. It just kept growing and growing, and it has been just a great opportunity.”
Retiring from NIU, Baker still plans to be involved with some side businesses, do some traveling and spend time with her family.
Perhaps, she’ll even pursue a passion for fashion she’s had since her days as undergraduate in 1983.
“I think I can dress full-figured women better than anyone,” she says. “If you give me time, maybe you’ll see me on ‘Good Morning America’ with tips on how to look nice as a full-figured woman.”
By the time she enrolled in law school, education and employment law had captured Baker’s attention. Upon earning her law degree, she worked in Affirmative Action at NIU.
Both her education and her career have allowed her to pursue interests that mean something to her, from civil rights to labor and employee relations to diversity to Title IX.
For Baker, life in and out of the office boiled down to honesty, understanding, encouragement, acceptance, equity and, of course, fairness.
NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman worked closely with Baker on issues related to affirmative action and equity compliance, labor relations and Title IX.
“She has worked tirelessly to ensure that all members of our university community experience an environment that reflects a community of diverse ideas, people and services, is free from all aspects of unfair, unequal and/or discriminatory treatment, complies with labor and employment laws and encourages training and education,” Freeman says.
“Karen Baker will be missed. The work that she pioneered will continue.”
In Baker’s latest role, she helped educate and train thousands at the university about policies and procedures established to promote a campus free from discrimination and harassment. She also oversaw investigations of workplace and other complaints and was credited with creating the system for handling claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Karen to advance diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Vernese Edghill-Walden, chief diversity officer at NIU. “We have had a wonderful working relationship, and she’s been a great colleague. Thank you for your leadership, wisdom and many years of service.”
Baker says she’s proud of it all, especially her most recent efforts to combat sexual harassment and assault and provide a safe environment for everyone at NIU. It’s just not OK to be mean, to bully or to harass, she says.
“I’m a believer in there are some things you don’t have to experience to say you’re living, and that’s one of them,” she says. “I think the more education we have for both the victim and the alleged offender, the better we can get down to saying, ‘This culture should not include that.'”
Through the years, Baker says she’s valued the advice given to her. And she’s learned a few things along the way, as well.
Among her advice:
Have patience. “Be patient with respect to your career and your opportunities,” she says.
Stay strong. “Surround yourself with people who have the same strength and the same power you have as far as in their minds and understanding of what power is, and use it accordingly,” she says. “A lot of women are tagged with being aggressive. You should know your strength on what you stand for and be OK with that. It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to…Don’t hook yourself to people. Hook yourself to your work, and you’ll always be visible in that regards.”
Put family first. You only have a short time to raise children. Let them guide your career choices, not the other way around, Baker says. “People will always know your legacy by your children,” she says.
By all means, pursue education. It might take awhile, but do it, she says. “Your education is the one thing no one else can take from you, ever,” she says. “It’s very important to give yourself an education so you have options. If you want to be an associate vice president you can be one, but if you also want to work at Lowe’s you can do that. Don’t let life dictate to you, you dictate life.”
Upon leaving NIU, Baker says she’ll miss her team the most, and the people she’s met along the way.
“I think it’s surreal,” she says of her retirement.
“Everyone who starts working always says, ‘Oh my gosh, you live to be able to retire,’ but when you get to the point where you can make that decision it’s very difficult because you have come to love what you do, love the people you work with and, as much as you might fight it, it defines who you are from 8 to 4:30. And you have to recreate that. The closer I get, the sun is shining. I’m getting excited to be able to control my time on a beautiful afternoon.”
Having grown up in DeKalb and immersed herself in NIU, Baker can’t see herself ever really severing ties with the university.
“I will always have NIU Huskie red running through my veins. I’m not going far. You’ll see me. I’ll be around,” she says.
“To anyone who’s worked with me, thank you. I consider everyone here part of my journey, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity. It’s time to do something else, and it’s OK. And I hope I left this place a better place.”
A farewell reception for Baker will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. June 21 in the Clara Sperling Sky Room at the Holmes Student Center.
Date posted: June 18, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Karen Baker set to retire June 30
The Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (PCSOGI) is the primary channel by which advice is given to the president of NIU on issues and concerns affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals at the university.
PCSOGI recently collaborated with the Undergraduate Research & Program Partnerships to create an award to recognize LGBTQ+ research during NIU’s Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day (URAD). The PCSOGI URAD Awards are two $100 awards given to the top two undergraduates research and artistry projects that spotlight themes, problems or issues important or related to the LGBTQ+ community. Awards are judged by a jury of PCSOGI member during URAD. PSOGI hopes giving these awards will help encourage undergraduate students to pursue artistic and research projects that address the concerns of the underrepresented and underserved populations of the LGBTQ+ community.
The two winners for the 2018 PCSOGI URAD Award are:
Cayli Mitchell, “Nahua Women: The complimentary life of a women in the 16th century before and after Spanish conquests”
Emily Eckles, “Der Rosa Winkel: The Colors of Persecution and the Damnation of Homosexual Men in Nazi Germany”
Date posted: June 18, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on PCSOGI awards undergraduate students for URAD research
Members of the Trans Action Task Force (TATF) meet with Acting President Freeman
Students participating in the Trans Action Task Force (TATF)—comprised of transgender, non-conforming and non-binary students—are responsible for advising NIU administrators on policies and practices that can be more inclusive for these students.
Coming to the table with administrators since its 2016 inception, the TATF first presented the need for gender-inclusive restrooms. Now, more than 25 of these facilities reside on campus for anyone, regardless of their gender identity or expression.
Molly Holmes, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), along with Matthew Lonski, Graduate Research Assistant at the GSRC, provide support and strategic direction for the TATF. “Establishing gender-inclusive restrooms on campus was a significant accomplishment, and there are more to come,” says Holmes. “We want to see these restrooms in every corner of campus and have three more scheduled for Cole Hall and the Student Recreation Center.”
Holmes explains how the new restrooms benefit everyone. “The single-stall restrooms provide privacy to anyone who wants it and can be accommodating to more than just trans people, including individuals with disabilities. Further, when all bathrooms are assigned a gender, there are limited options for parents who have a child of a different gender to comfortably go.”
Recently the TATF worked side-by-side with administrators to make to some other less visible, but equally important, practices more inclusive.
From a TATF recommendation, NIU students can now utilize the preferred/proper name option in MyNIU and also update their name on their NIU OneCard ID without incurring a fee. Any subsequent name changes will be charged. “We want students to have the opportunity to be authentic to who they are and be seen how they want to be seen when navigating NIU. Allowing students to change their name without being penalized gives them the freedom to display their proper identity,” says Holmes.
Students who are in the process of medically transitioning are required by their healthcare professional to get their hormone levels checked on a regular basis. The TATF recognized the difficulty students faced for a simple blood draw. They often had to leave campus and take significant time to drive to their healthcare provider’s office for a quick laboratory appointment. Under advice from the TATF, and in partnership with NIU Health Services, students are now able to get their hormone levels checked through Health Services on campus. In addition, the cost is now included in their current Health Services fees.
“We are starting to see the impact of the efforts of NIU administration and the TATF,” says Holmes. “More students are coming to NIU because of the inclusion efforts NIU has made, in addition to the LGBTQA residence hall floor. It speaks to the importance NIU puts on ensuring all students feel welcome and safe.”
Facilitated by many students involved in the TATF, workshops were made available to NIU leadership presenting best practices that support the inclusion of transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary students in the classroom. When students have direct interaction with leaders in the NIU community, voices are heard in a way that cannot be replicated by any training video or handout.
Gabriel Sonntag, a history major from Chicago, is set to graduate next spring. He’s been active on the TATF and has experienced firsthand how this group has helped transgender students at NIU. “Through the TATF, trans students are able to voice their thoughts and concerns directly to administrators, bridging the gap that was once there. In the short time the TATF has been around, we’ve been able to make NIU a more trans-inclusive campus and we’ve laid the groundwork for even more work to be done.”
The TATF has a broader message to all NIU students and administrators even beyond inclusion. “When partnership and collaboration occur between students and administration, and positive outcomes are a direct result, students gain trust in university leaders and are encouraged to share their voice,” remarks Holmes. “The TAFT is just one example of NIU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion that we can all be proud of.”
Date posted: May 30, 2018 | Author: Andrew Pemberton | Comments Off on Student task force addresses inclusion