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Successful entrepreneurs and tourism experts will headline a day-long conference at Northern Illinois University on rebuilding and strengthening local economies.

Illinois Tourism Director Cory Jobe, Humboldt Park furniture shop owners Lynne and Ty McDaniel, and Ottawa agri-business partners Scott Struchen, Peter Limberger and Kevin Pearse are among those presenting new ideas on economic development at the April 3 event at NIU’s Holmes Student Center.

In addition to the successful business owners, the conference will feature perspectives from community organizers and financial experts on how to create a climate for small business growth.

Appointed to the state’s top tourism post in January 2015, Jobe is responsible for leading the state’s tourism industry marketing and development efforts.  He will address current and future supports for small business start-ups in Illinois.

Lynne and Ty McDaniel own an art deco furniture shop in Humboldt Park.  In addition to telling their own story, the McDaniels will describe the successful neighborhood business association they founded called West of Western.

Scott  Struchen and his partners will describe how they developed an ecology of connected businesses in Ottawa – a hops farm, brewery and restaurant – that are making the small town a popular tourist destination.

In addition to the presentations on successful small business ventures, the conference will feature a panel of experts discussing how institutions need to change to foster a new, collaborative business model.  Leodis Scott of DePaul University will address higher education’s role in leadership development; Sarosh Saher of the Village of Lake Zurich will discuss municipal policies that can support sustainable businesses; and NIU’s Norm Walzer will present ideas for innovative sources of financing.

The conference is part of NIU’s Great Downtowns, Growing Cities program, developed in conjunction with the PASCAL Observatory, partner of UNESCO’s Learning Cities initiative.

It is sponsored by NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies and the School for Public and Global Affairs.

The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Holmes Student Center’s Skyroom.  A $75 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, parking and materials.  NIU students may attend for free; students from other institutions may attend at a reduced price of $40.  Additional information and registration forms are available online at



Date posted: March 22, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Experts to share tips for unique small business ventures

Categories: Alumni Centerpiece Community Events Faculty & Staff Students

The DeKalb County Community Gardens invites the NIU and DeKalb communities to its annual Growing Season Kick-Off dinner and organizing meeting on Monday, March 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Outreach Building, 2500 N. Annie Glidden Rd.

The event will give students and community members a chance to enjoy hot soup, fresh locally-baked bread and cookies while learning about ways to become involved in ending hunger in DeKalb county.

Since 2014, NIU has partnered with the DeKalb County Community Gardens on a number of projects designed to combat food insecurity by bringing fresh, local, sustainably-grown organic vegetables to the community.

One of these important projects is the Communiversity Gardens, which broke ground on the NIU campus in May of 2014. Since then, the Communiversity Gardens have expanded to include four locations on the NIU campus where NIU students, faculty, staff and community members work to grow organic vegetables as well as grasses and other plants native to the northern Illinois region.

For more information about the DeKalb County Community Gardens Growing Season Kick-Off event, contact Dan Kenney at [email protected].

For more information about the Communiversity Gardens, or to volunteer, contact the NIU Communiversity Gardens at [email protected].


Date posted: March 15, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Community Gardens prepares to get dirty

Categories: Community Communiversity Events Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

The NIU Outstanding Service Award is presented each year to recognize individual civil service employees who demonstrate outstanding service and who make significant contributions to the university and to their community. Up to four awards are presented at the annual Operating Staff Service Awards luncheon in the spring, along with a $1,500 award (considered taxable wages).

Nominations are due Feb. 17. Eligibility criteria, forms and instructions for the nomination are available directly from the Operating Staff Council’s website.


Date posted: February 2, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Nominations for the 2017 Outstanding Service Award for civil service employees are now being accepted

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage


Latino parents in the DeKalb and Sycamore school districts are preparing for the spring session of Universidad para Padres (Parent University), a free program that empowers mothers, fathers and grandparents to take active roles in their personal growth along with their children’s academic success.

The program consists of 14 evening sessions held from September through May from 6 to 8 p.m. at DeKalb High School. At these sessions, local experts cover everything from bilingual education in the local K-12 education system to the ins and outs 31705642262_a879fb87e0_k the college exploration and application process. One of the goals of the program is to better prepare Latino parents in overcoming cultural, financial and language barriers so that they can support their children’s education. Sessions also help parents identify and pursue their own education and career goals.

“Parents who are successfully pursuing their own growth have a better chance of helping their children do the same,” said Susana Das Neves, the program’s coordinator. “So Parent University is really about empowering the whole family, making sure everyone is getting the skills they need and connecting parents and kids to relevant local resources.”

Upcoming topics include summer camps and activities, healthy living, resume building and job searches, college savings plans, financing a home and immigration.

Universidad para Padres began as a six-session pilot program in the fall of 2016, but participants were so enthusiastic that eight more sessions were added. The program will culminate in a ceremony led by NIU President Doug Baker on May 20.

More than 100 people attended the Universidad para Padres posada on Dec. 17. They celebrated the holiday season with a cooking contest, holiday crafts and games, Mexican holiday carols and a piñata.

“Being part of Universidad para Padres has enriched me as a person,” said one participant. “I now feel that I have more tools to continue my family’s growth.”

Parent University is also great opportunity for NIU students to volunteer and engage with the Latino community in DeKalb and Sycamore. NIU student volunteers are needed to assist with childcare during spring sessions. Contact Das Neves at 815-753-1420 to help. Special thanks to students and organizations who provided childcare in the fall sessions: Huskie Service Scholars, Alpha Psi Lambda, Adela de La Torre Latino Honor Society, DREAM Action NIU, Gamma Phi Omega, Spanish Club, elementary education major Diana Alday, Spanish major Jordan Landauer, and psychology majors Melissa Martinez and Janane Al-Maliki.

“Susana does a fabulous job of helping parents figure out what they need to know and then bringing in speakers,” said Amy Jo Clemens of NIU’s P-20 Center, who supervises the program.

“These parents are building closer relationships with the schools and finding resources throughout the community.”

Universidad para Padres is sponsored by the Regional P-20 Network, a collaborative organization based at NIU which includes 11 community colleges and 30 school districts.

For more information or to refer parents you think might be interested, please contact Susana Das Neves at 815-753-1420 or [email protected].





Date posted: January 18, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Universidad para Padres empowers Latino parents

Categories: Announcements Centerpiece Community Engagement Events Parents

Do you have a talent for storytelling? Put that talent to good use to get published and earn money for educational expenses.

The Department of English is accepting literary fiction submissions through Feb. 1 as part of the Mike and Anne Malone Award for Short Fiction competition. The competition reflects the living legacy of a long-time NIU employee. For more than 31 years, Mike Malone crafted and shared NIU’s story through his work in Publications and University Advancement until his retirement in 2015.

The Malone Award is open to all full-time NIU undergraduates in good academic standing. The winning entry will receive $1,000 and the opportunity to be published in Towers, NIU’s literary magazine.

Entries must be submitted in hard copy and be no longer than 15 double-spaced, typed pages. All entries must be made by blind submission with a cover sheet that includes the author’s name, ZID number and contact information. Each page should include a header with ZID number. Submissions should be delivered to Jodi Long, Undergraduate Studies in English, Reavis 214.

Submissions will be evaluated on originality, style and emotional impact. For more information about the competition and entry requirements, email [email protected].

Date posted: January 18, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Use your storytelling to earn money for school

Categories: Awards Centerpiece Latest News On Campus Students

Kick off a new semester with a week of service! First- and Second-Year Experience and Academic Advising Center are partnering in the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which will run through Jan. 20, by raising money to donate to a local organization. The money raised will be donated to one of the following local community organizations: Bethlehem Feed My Sheep food pantry, Raven’s Huskie Haven & Rescue, Barb Food Mart, Huskie Student Food Pantry, Salvation Army or TAILS Humane Society.

Penny-Wars-PortraitResidents from Academic and Career Exploratory Scholars and Second-Year Experience Living Learning Community will be tabling throughout the week to raise funds through a friendly competition of Penny Wars: Freshmen vs. Sophomore Class.

Stop by and donate at New Hall Community Center from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday; Stevenson South near the dining hall entrance from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; or DuSable Hall main entrance from 10 a.m. to noon Friday.

Donors may vote for which community partner they would like to receive the funds from this event.

Date posted: January 18, 2017 | Author: | Comments Off on Week of Service continues with Penny Wars

Categories: Announcements Communiversity Events Faculty & Staff Homepage On Campus Students What's Going On


Vice President for Administration and Finance Al Phillips, an Army veteran, speaks at the NIU Veterans Day Ceremony./Photo by Robert Banke

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the noise of the geese in NIU’s East Lagoon was drowned out by the clear notes of a bugle as the American flag was raised to the top of the flagpole in front of Still Hall.

Friday’s Veterans Day ceremony was organized by the NIU Veterans Association in coordination with Military & Post-Traditional Student Services. Featured speaker Al Phillips, Vice President for Administration and Finance and an Army veteran, began his speech by recalling the history of Veterans Day, once called Armistice Day. It marks the anniversary of the armistice between the Allied Forces and Germany – which took effect at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918 – to end World War I.

“Our nation remembers the moment the guns of World War I went silent,” Phillips said.

During his speech, Phillips recalled the stories and experiences of a number of veterans he has known.

“They are the hidden heroes of a peaceful nation,” he said. “Our colleagues, friends, neighbors and family members who answered the call and returned to the land they defended … made our nation safer in a world full of new dangers.”

Phillips noted the “special kinds of sacrifice” military members and their loved ones make, but said the payoff is in the development of character and leadership and in serving a cause greater than oneself.

“It is a legacy to be proud of, and those who committed to that legacy must never be taken for granted,” he said. “America remains the best hope for those who live in fear. Millions breathe free today because of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”

Date posted: November 11, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on Veterans Day marked with ceremony

Categories: Campus Highlights Centerpiece On Campus

Due to a necessary repair on NIU’s steam distribution system, there will be a 24-hour steam outage for most of the campus west of Annie Glidden Rd, beginning at 11 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7, and ending at 11 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8.

The following facilities will be without steam and domestic hot water (showers, sinks, kitchens):

Barsema Alumni Visitors Center
Recreation Center
Grant Towers (apartments have electric hot water heaters)
Stevenson Towers (apartments have electric hot water heaters)
Huskie Stadium
Yordon Center
Chessick Practice Center
Dorland Building
Physical Plant

Steam will be provided to New Residence Hall from the West Heating Plant during this outage. Stevenson Dining will close at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, and will reopen at 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10. Please utilize New Residence Hall or Neptune Hall for alternative dining.

For more information, contact the Heating Plant at 753-6090.

Date posted: October 7, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on West Campus steam outage this weekend

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

flu-shot-portrait-recoveredThe DeKalb County Health Department, NIU Health Services, NIU School of Nursing, and NIU Employee Assistance Program will host flu shot clinics from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21 in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center (HSC) and Tuesday, Oct. 25, in the Regency Room of the HSC.

For complete information on eligibility and to download the flu vaccine administration form, please visit

Students are encouraged to go to the University Health Services for a flu shot at a reduced fee or to file under their insurance.

If you have any questions, please contact the NIU Employee Assistance Program at 753-9191.

Date posted: September 15, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on Annual employee flu shot clinics scheduled for Sept. 21 & Oct. 25

Categories: Announcements Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

Alumni Scott Prestin and Rich Lenkov and legendary Bears linebacker Otis Wilson are part of a documentary team that has produced a documentary on the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, and WTTW-TV (PBS) will air a preview screening at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7.


The film, “‘85: The Greatest Team in Pro Football History,” features Bears legends Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary, Jim McMahon, Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael and interviews with President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Bill Murray, Jeremy Piven, George Wendt, Joe Mantegna and Michael Wilbon.

The ’85 Bears, one of the most colorful and talented teams of all time, had the first-ranked defense and shut out both of their playoff opponents. In their Super Bowl XX victory in New Orleans, they set records for both total points scored and margin of victory.

In a preview clip at, former Bears defensive tackle Hampton talks about how fans booed and hated them in the late ’70s and early ’80s, before Ditka became coach.

“All of a sudden by ’82, Ditka’s first year, we had a core of some pretty good players,” Hampton says.


Scott Prestin

Wilbon, an ESPN commentator, recalls how the players barked like dogs at each other and butted heads with opponents.

“They got to the point where they were invincible,” Wilbon says.

Besides being director and producer of the documentary, Prestin (B.S. ’92, J.D. ’95) works as an attorney and has more than 15 years of production experience. The Chicago native has successfully managed numerous documentary, commercial and narrative projects. His most recent work, the official documentary of the best-selling book “John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster,” is scheduled to release later this year.

Lenkov (J.D. ’95) also produced “The Perfect Storm: The 1994 Montreal Expos” and has been involved

Rich Lenkov

Rich Lenkov

in theatrical productions, including “Rock of Ages” and “The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream.” He is a Chicago resident and works as an attorney with the law firm Bryce Downey & Lenkov. In addition, he received the NIU Alumni Association this year with the Outstanding College Alumni Award for the College of Law.

Wilson was a key member of the dominant 4-6 defense from the Super Bowl XX winning Bears and was a soloist in the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” the only hit single by a professional sports team. He currently runs the Otis Wilson Charitable Association.

Date posted: August 25, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on Alumni film on Bears to air on WTTW-TV

Categories: Alumni Homepage Sports

St Louis Arch Project

Artist Jessica Witte and her husband, Brad Witte, work on the art project “Seed the Change” with Matt Bird (on right) below the Gateway Arch. The theme is about bringing people together to make a positive change in their environment.

Jessica Witte, M.F.A.’04, is a nationally exhibited and award-winning artist. She also describes herself as a recovering control freak.

Witte is far from controlling these days as she makes a name for herself in the St. Louis art scene. In early June, she headed a massive public art project along the riverfront below the Gateway Arch. She and her crew drew abstract chalk outlines of Missouri’s native wildflowers, such as the hawthorn and coneflower. She then invited passersby to take control and fill in the outlines with birdseed as the medium and the sidewalk as the canvas.

Time lapse video recorded adults and children sprinkling the designs with nearly 1.5 tons of contrasting millet and sunflower seeds to help the city celebrate the transformation of the Arch grounds.

“It becomes a really enjoyable sensory experience for a lot of people,” says Witte, who did a similar birdseed project in Belleville, Illinois, last summer. “Kids really enjoy it and don’t want to leave. Even adults have talked about how relaxing it is to just have it happen.”

While the birdseed art was fun for the public, Witte viewed it as an example of how people affect each other.

“The changes that occur as people walk through, add to, and shift the drawings are a visual metaphor for how others influence our output,” she says.

The art also symbolizes a movement in St. Louis to advocate for backyard wildlife habitats and to help fight the loss of pollinators – bees, birds, and butterflies. Local organizations, such as the Missouri Botanical Garden, partnered with Witte to provide hands-on activities to make the public aware of the importance of growing native plants, composting, and other environmental issues.

As part of the movement to give back to nature, the birdseed from the art project was swept up and rebagged for the public to take. Witte also donated 250 pounds of unopened bags of seed to the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Missouri.

Witte’s project was funded by a $10,000 grant from Critical Mass for the Visual Arts, which selected Witte from three finalists. Witte won over the group with her “Seed the Change” idea, which refers to positive changes happening in the city because of organizations and communities working together.

“The purpose was really to create a beautiful threshold for the city of St. Louis, calling attention to the work that CityArchRiver is already doing to make the city a better place through design,” says Witte, a resident of Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Salina Govan of St. Louis and her daughter, Kristyahna Bradshaw, help decorate the Gateway Arch riverfront with birdseed art.

Salina Govan of St. Louis and her daughter, Kristyahna Bradshaw, help decorate the Gateway Arch riverfront with birdseed art.

CityArchRiver 2015 is the name of the St. Louis project to transform the grounds surrounding the Arch. Biking and running trails, space for outdoor concerts, and a new museum commemorating westward expansion are all part of the plan. The Arch remains open during the renovation of its visitor center and Museum of Westward Expansion, both scheduled to reopen in 2017.

For the last decade, Witte has created large-scale drawings on the ground – referred to as “birdseed doilies” – and she tends to include floral and lace elements in her work. The fragile doilies are meant to celebrate labor and maintenance.

Her multimedia art has been featured in more than fifty exhibitions at venues such as the San Diego Art Institute, the Textile Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Nebraska Art, the Rockford Art Museum, Chicago art galleries, and the Good Citizen Gallery in St. Louis.

Early on in her career, she says, it was painful to watch her temporary art exhibits get destroyed.

“Initially, my work was very much about me and how I laid things out,” she says. “It was more of a meditative process for me.”

But now she enjoys acting as an orchestrator and watching the crowd create the installation art.

“It became more about seeing what other people could contribute and working with that on the fly to make something bigger than myself,” Witte says.

As a graduate student at Northern, she began doing installation and performance art and incorporating food in designs.

“I’ve used sugar and rice as metaphors for excess and substance,” she says. “My work in grad school explored needs versus wants, and food seemed an appropriate material to make others think about the difference.”

She remembers professors Christine LoFaso and Billie Giese of the School of Art and Design influencing her work. LoFaso told Witte that the doily work set her apart, and Giese suggested videotaping the process.

NIU helped Witte, who began as a printmaking major, embrace an interdisciplinary approach to art making, Giese says.

“What we emphasize in our program is that you aren’t making work for the discipline,” says Giese, the drawing area coordinator of the studio division. “When you have an idea, then you go to the best discipline to convey that idea. And you can choose from lots of different disciplines; you aren’t just put in a silo.”

Witte is now moving on to expand her ideas as an artist and continue making positive changes in St. Louis. She is applying for the highly competitive Artist in Residence Program of Forest Park Forever, which works with the city of St. Louis to restore, maintain, and sustain Forest Park as one of the greatest urban public parks in America.

Watch the time lapse video here.

Date posted: August 24, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on Art brings community and nature together

Categories: Alumni Arts Centerpiece Visual

When Missy first came on as Director she called Mei for help and to her surprise Mei showed up in 5 minutes not a day or two. Mei has continued to be fast to help us no matter how much she has to do. She offers her expertise with a smile and never makes us feel like she is wasting her time. All of us wish that we could have her all to ourselves! Thank you Mei for all you do.

Applaud a Colleague

Date posted: August 4, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on Mei Chen – College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Categories: Applause