“Receiving third place gave me the power to contribute financially to a fund I believed in,” Boyle said, a 2015 state champion orator and current graduate student at NIU. “I chose to donate to NIU’s Forward, Together Forward scholarship fund because it awards those with a strong intellect, high regard for others, and excellent moral character. My hope is that my contribution helps fund a student with a need for advocacy, and a genuine concern for others.”
Pi Kappa Delta stands for the Greek phrase Peitho Kale Dikaia – “the art of persuasion, beautiful and just” – which correlates with Boyle’s successful forensics career at NIU.
“That sums up my experience perfectly,” Boyle said. “Persuasion resonated with me in my undergraduate career because I felt like a true advocate.”
Boyle’s winning persuasive speech examined the research ban on guns which was instituted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in 1996. She argued that the research ban prohibits health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from studying guns at all, as it potentially promotes a “gun control agenda.”
“My speech did not attempt to address gun control policy, but instead advocated to allow health professionals to do their job of research,” Boyle said. “Viewing gun violence as a public health issue is a paradigm switch essential to saving lives and framing gun violence as a public health issue. We are always taught to view research as the first step to solving any problem in academia, so it should not be any different for guns.”
Boyle continues to make an impact as an alumni and NIU forensics coach.
Date posted: September 13, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on Julia Boyle wins for NIU
The NIU director of Testing Services and Academic Affairs Research Support is as passionate about testing as he is about being a Huskie.
Barker started at NIU as an undergraduate student in 1989 and, after earning a bachelor’s degree in 1993, went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate degree.
It was while working on his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology that his career in testing services really began.
“It took a graduate assistantship with NIU’s Testing Services and found a good fit for temperament and skill set,” Barker said. “I enjoyed the research I conducted for the vice provost, and I liked the detail-oriented aspects of working in an academic testing office.”
Barker was the assistant director for psychometric support, and when the director position opened in 2008, he took on that role. Nearly two decades later, the NIU community is glad he did.
At Testing Services, Barker is involved with every phase of the student career: receiving and processing thousands of ACT scores, scanning and analyzing nearly every standardized classroom test, and processing course evaluations.
He has been called a “visionary” and a “difference-maker,” and someone who leads by example. In 2016, Barker was one of four members of the Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) to earn the Presidential Award for Excellence.
“It was never my intention to stay at NIU but I’m honestly glad I did,” Barker said. “As director, I have been lucky to have the absolute best staff on campus.”
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: August 5, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on Earning high marks
“My job provides me the opportunity to work hard, learn more and share my knowledge and interests with a wide variety of people,” Schlosser said. “I appreciate those opportunities, and really couldn’t ask for more.”
In her role, Schlosser and her colleagues imagine and execute ever-expanding and evolving learning opportunities for audiences that include teachers, students, community members, and lifelong learners. These programs offer the kind of challenges that keeps her often behind-the-scenes work varied and interesting, she said.
“We have a small office – four full-time employees – and it takes everyone’s contributions to execute the exceptional programming that we do,” Schlosser said. “None of us could do this on our own; our teamwork and relationships make it all possible.”
Whether it’s leading a travel program to Canada for the Stratford Festival, accompanying a group to a Chicago Shakespeare Theater production or contributing to the success of NIU summer camps, Schlosser delivers on all accounts. She is proud to represent the Huskies – as an alumnus and employee – and also as a current Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English.
“Both as a student and now as a staff member, I have been touched by the great group of people who work at NIU,” said Schlosser, who was one of four members of NIU’s Operating Staff selected to receive the 2016 Outstanding Service Award.
“They have encouraged, fostered and challenged me and I’ve been especially lucky to now work with many of them. It’s great to come to the office every ,day and engage with people I truly enjoy.”
Schlosser and her team have planned nine camps this year, tackling topics such as creative writing, film production and leadership development. From day camps to residential camps where students are housed on campus, the camps provide unique opportunities for learning that can’t be found in a textbook.
“The camps provide students with the opportunities to work with experts in their chosen topics, visit locations and engage with experts they may not have access to on a regular basis,” Schlosser said. “NIU has amazing faculty and staff who share their experiences with campers. It’s really an opportunity students can’t get anywhere else.”
For more information on NIU camps offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, visit the summer camp page or check out other camp offerings at NIU.
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: July 1, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on Shining in the summer – and throughout the year
“We are not only giving students the tools to make it through college, we are giving them tools for life,” McCoy said. “These tools are also something they can use to teach others.”
McCoy understands what it’s like to be an NIU student, because he was one. As an undergraduate, he walked the same pathways and corridors as his students do now.
“There are professors I had when I was here, some who have made a significant impact on my personal life and academic life,” McCoy said. “I now get to take what I have learned and utilize that pedagogy on the students that I serve.”
McCoy went on to earn a master’s degree from University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002 and a doctorate degree from Edgewood College in 2010. He was hired as NIU’s first full-time BELIEF program director that same year, and has helped the program earn national ranking and international recognition since then.
With a mission “to build ethical leaders through the integration of program development, faculty support, business community involvement and learner engagement,” McCoy uses his experience as a former NIU student to connect with today’s learners.
McCoy said that fulfilling this mission equips the learner with a lasting set of practical tools to apply ethical values in business practices, as well as to use right here and right now.
“Ethical decision making is not something we only do after we graduate,” McCoy said. “Here is a decision-making framework to use to make better decisions; we are not only giving you the tools to make it through college, we are giving you tools for life, and it is also something you can teach other people.”
“We are the only one in the state of Illinois to earn the designation – which is in effect for three years – and only one of nine universities in the country to be recognized,” NIU Police Department Chief Thomas Phillips said.
Also earning the designation are Rowan University, Virginia Tech, Case Western Reserve University, Drexel University, St. Michael’s College, Syracuse University, Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh.
NIU police department paramedics operate through the Kishwaukee Hospital Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System, which is now part of Northwestern Medicine, and adhere to their protocols. In turn, Kishwaukee Hospital oversees the continuing education and certification of personnel and provides medical supplies needed when NIU paramedics respond to emergencies. The hospital recently provided the department with two trauma response bags designed to provide care during traumatic emergencies.
At least one paramedic is on every patrol shift, Phillips said, covering the campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“The EMS program started in 2002,” Phillips said. “Since then, police officers have been cross-trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) with some being trained or hired as paramedics.”
NIU police officers who are paramedics have the same capabilities and equipment as a paramedic employed by a fire department, with the exception of having an ambulance to transport patients.
“Since our paramedics are also police officers, they enter the scene before it is secure then shift functions into paramedic mode if lifesaving measures are needed,” Phillips said. “NIU police paramedics communicate directly with the City of DeKalb Fire Department’s paramedics over a radio and advise the situation.”
Phillips said these advancements save “precious time in an emergency and have proven to save lives.”
In addition to being licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, this designation is further evidence of the excellence of this program and the commitment of the university to invest resources to provide emergency medical care to students, faculty, staff and visitors.
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: June 6, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on NIU Department of Police and Public Safety earns national accolades
“The program is very hands-on which allows the participants to get a taste of what being a police officer is like on all levels,” Lovelace said. “From the emotions when approaching a vehicle to the exhaustion an officer experiences when involved in a physical altercation, the program offers real insight into the psyche of being a police officer.”
The goal of the academy is to provide citizens with a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a police officer and the integral role officers play in keeping the campus and community safe.
Taught by members of the NIU Police Department, the 11-week course meets each Wednesday.
“We designed a pilot program so we can gather information, get feedback and really fine-tune the program before we do a full launch of the Citizens Police Academy,” said NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips. “We want to be transparent with our operations; we want our community to fully understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.”
Lovelace said the pilot program does just that, adding that the creation of the academy “speaks to the department’s interest in developing a hand-in-hand relationship with the community.”
“It allows the community to feel better about the job the department does because the community knows how that job is being done,” Lovelace said. “The academy provides knowledge based on reality rather than sensationalism.”
Look for more information regarding the official launch of the Citizens Police Academy and how to register for a session in the fall.
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: March 24, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on NIU Police Department launches Citizens Police Academy pilot program
At the American Mock Trial Association’s opening round of the championship series (ORCS) held this month in Geneva, the Huskie team was named as one of six “Outstanding Trial Teams” and finished with the third best overall record.
Their prowess in the courtroom earned them a bid to the national championship next month in Greenville, S.C., for the first time in NIU school history.
“Only the top 48 teams out of 650 teams in the U.S. make it to the national championship tournament,” said Mitch Pickerill, professor in the Department of Political Science, who started the mock trial program at NIU in 2012. “NIU will be competing with some of the most elite universities and mock trial programs from all over the country.”
Mock trial is an intercollegiate co-curricular activity where students play the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a hypothetical case. In just four years, Pickerill has taken the NIU program from its infancy to being a formidable competitor.
“A liberal arts education ought to teach students how to critically think and synthesize information, and how to improve their public speaking and teamwork skills,” Pickerill said. “Mock trial is everything a liberal arts education is supposed to be wrapped up into one activity, and it contributes to the career readiness of these students.”
At the regional competition held last month in Joliet, NIU team members won four individual awards, more than any other team in the tournament. Co-captain Alonte Holliday won both an Outstanding Attorney Award and an Outstanding Witness Award, while co-captain Kristen Stoicescu won an Outstanding Attorney Award and Jamie Bellah won an Outstanding Witness Award.
Then, during the opening round series March 12 and 13, Stoicescu and Holliday again earned accolades for Outstanding Attorney and Outstanding Witness, making NIU the only team to have two students snag both attorney and witness awards.
“Our program has made a name for itself in a very short period of time,” said Stoicescu, a senior. “Our success is attributable to the determination and grit of our students, as well as the experience and dedication of our coach, Dr. Pickerill. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
For Stoicescu, who will graduate in May with a major in economics, there are other rewards as well.
“Mock trial is not only challenging and rewarding, but very fun,” Stoicescu said. “Through my participation in mock trial, I have improved my public speaking and logical reasoning skills, become comfortable with thinking on my feet, and made lifelong friends.”
Members of the mock trial team heading to Greenville are Stoicescu, Bellah, Holliday, Katie Harper, Aleesha Parent, Grace Trajani, Angelica Lebron, Joey Petrillo, Nathan Ghinazzi and Zakyrah Harris.
While they are busy preparing a new case for the national tournament April 15 to 17, they are also fundraising to cover the cost of the trip to South Carolina. Anyone interested in supporting the team or those looking for information about participating next year should contact Pickerill at [email protected].
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: March 24, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on The verdict is in: NIU’s mock trial team is heading to the national championship
The MPA program was ranked sixth in the nation in the specialty field of city management and urban policy and tied for 14th in the nation with Harvard in the field of public finance and budgeting. The program also made its debut in the field of public management administration, ranking 30th.
NIU’s rankings in these programs are ahead of all Illinois public and private institutions as well as many elite schools nationwide.
“The fact that we have again earned top rankings is a sign of the overall strength of our program,” said Kurt Thurmaier, Presidential Engagement Professor and chair of NIU’s Department of Public Administration. “It is pretty stiff competition – almost 300 MPA programs – and is a testament about the quality of our faculty and program.”
“The high rankings in three different fields are wide recognition by our peer MPA programs that NIU is committed to engaging in the broad, interdisciplinary issues and engagement in public affairs issues,” Thurmaier said.
Recently celebrating its 50th anniversary, NIU’s MPA program is the oldest in the state and is recognized internationally for its excellence. The university has a long tradition of working closely with Illinois communities, including the nearby Chicago suburbs, which are natural consumers of the MPA program’s graduates.
NIU MPA students are recruited for jobs at the state conference of the Illinois City/County Management Association.
NIU has a strong alumni network throughout the Chicago area, and alums are at the administrative helms of such cities as: Addison, Algonquin, Aurora, Bartlett, Carol Stream, Clarendon Hills, Crystal Lake, Deerfield, DeKalb, Elk Grove Village, Elmhurst, Flossmoor, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Glencoe, Glenview, Hoffman Estates, Lake in the Hills, Lombard, Rockford, Schaumburg, Sycamore, Tinley Park, Warrenville, Western Springs, Winfield and Winnetka.
NIU faculty and alumni have played a major role in efforts to professionalize municipal staffs statewide and advance the national good government movement.
Along with producing about one-third of all Illinois city managers, NIU’s MPA program grads also hold key public-service posts across the country in such states as Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Brian W. Caputo
“NIU’s high ranking doesn’t surprise me at all,” said NIU alumnus Brian Caputo, a 1999 MPA grad and the City of Aurora chief financial officer and treasurer. “It’s an extraordinary program with accomplished and energetic professors; students recognize that and they are engaged.”
Caputo, who also serves on the prestigious Governmental Accounting Standards Board, said while the MPA program has its basis in theory, practical experiences are incorporated throughout the curriculum. In addition to the challenging coursework, faculty members believe the internship requirement – a two-year paid internship with a public or non-profit organization – sets the NIU MPA program apart from other universities.
Second year MPA student Anthony Isom shared the sentiment.
“The internship program is probably one of the most recognizable and appreciated features of the MPA program,” said Isom, who will graduate in May. “NIU stands firm behind their competencies and various ways of acquiring these practical skills; this is an incredible opportunity to obtain the core competencies the MPA program requires all students to have prior to graduation.”
Thurmaier said the internship program is the best in the country, and it “ensures that an undergraduate student who goes directly into the MPA program is going to get almost two years of professional experience before they go into the job market.”
An NIU MPA student interns at the Elgin Fire Department.
“One of the reasons we have a 95 percent placement record within six months of graduation is because the employers – especially those in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin – realize that these students are well prepared to hit the ground running when they are hired,” Thurmaier said.
NIU Career Services works closely with the Department of Public Administration to ensure students are well-suited for their internship placements, and the employment rate of the 1,400 alumni reflects that.
“The MPA program is challenging and rewarding for the simple fact that there is a continuous support base that gives students the hope and motivation necessary for the completion of the program,” Isom said. “I highly recommend the MPA program to any student who seeks to develop into a professional with a team of faculty and staff who want you to achieve the greatest success.”
The specialty rankings are based on ratings by educators at peer schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: March 17, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on NIU MPA ranks among nation’s best: U.S. News & World Report
“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be.”
– John Henrik Clarke
John Henrik Clarke was a writer, historian, professor and pioneer in field of Africana Studies.
Founder of the African Heritage Studies Association, he was highly regarded for his lifelong devotion to studying and documenting the histories and contributions of African people in Africa.
Clarke died in 1998, but his legacy lives on around the world – and at NIU.
In 2002, the John H. Clarke Honor Society was established at NIU by a group of African-American students in an effort to recognize those with high academic standards and an ongoing commitment to service in the community. Students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 out of a 4.0 scale were invited to apply, and with the principle motto of “Always do your best, what you plant now will harvest later,” the society was founded.
After a brief hiatus, the John H. Clarke Honor Society was reestablished on campus in 2010, thanks to the diligent efforts of students and faculty members.
“There are so many benefits to being part of this,” Curry said. “Students learn leadership skills and social responsibility. They learn to multi-task and work as a member of a team which is really important.”
While maintaining a 3.0 grade point average is pivotal to society membership, providing mentorships and a nurturing environment is also a key component.
Graduate student Abria Martin, who earned her bachelor’s degree from NIU in May 2015, was a four-year member of the Clarke Honor Society and now continues to assist with the program.
“I joined my freshman year and now I help as a way of giving back,” Martin said. “It’s a great thing for people to consider joining; it’s like a family and, once you are involved in it, you have another support system on campus.”
Martin said it’s also an opportunity to be a role model and mentor for other African-American students, which is important.
“At the end of the day, you can do all of these great things, but if you are not doing it for a purpose or for a greater cause, then are you really contributing?” Martin said. “This gives you a way to mingle with freshman and shape the next generation of students. We can reach people through this and they can carry the torch.”
Students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 received an invitation in February to apply for the John H. Clarke Honor Society. An induction ceremony is planned Sunday, April 10, at the Duke Ellington Ballroom.
“It’s a great thing for people to consider joining,” Martin said. “Besides being an academic support system, it’s an opportunity build leadership skills, develop professionally and give back to the community before leaving the university.”
Application deadline is Wednesday, March 16. For more information, contact the Center for Black Studies at (815) 753-1709 or [email protected].
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: March 3, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on John Henrik Clarke Honor Society offers opportunities for Huskies
John Ithal, who brings more than two decades of experience in law enforcement with the North Aurora Police Department, has been named NIU’s director of Clery Compliance.
Ithal, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Aurora University and a master’s degree from Lewis University, is the first to hold the newly created position. He reports to NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips.
“I look forward to the continuation of helping others and serving the community,” Ithal said. “This position allows me to support – and commit to – the mission of the Clery Act so that students and parents can make informed decisions.”
The Clery Act is a federal statute that requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses.
Compliance with the Clery Act is often assumed as a campus police department responsibility, Phillips said, but that is not the case.
“Institutional compliance with the Clery Act is more than simply counting crimes,” Phillips said. “There are many working pieces that are multifaceted and require collaboration across the campus community.”
Activities include publishing an annual security report, maintaining a public log of crimes and crime statistics and providing a timely warning of crimes that might threaten campus safety.
“Hiring John to manage these complex processes and foster collaboration is affirmation of President Baker’s commitment to shared governance and campus safety,” Phillips said.
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: March 2, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on John Ithal joins NIU as director of Clery Compliance
Thurmaier’s efforts were on behalf of Tanzania Development Support (TDS), a nonprofit organization he co-founded with his wife, Jeanine, in 2008. In 2012, during his inaugural climb to Mount Kilimanjaro, his group raised more than $33,000, which allowed construction of a modern library and multipurpose resource center for Nyegina schools and nearby Bukwaya communities.
“This trip was really parallel to the first trip, and this climb is for the second phase of the project which is to build a wing with computer labs,” Thurmaier said. “But in addition to being able to build this computer lab – which is essential for improving educational outcomes for poor rural girls and boys in Tanzania – the climb itself is designed to acquaint an entire new group of people to what we are doing.”
With a goal of raising $50,000, Thurmaier began the 19,341-foot journey Jan. 25 joined by 11 other climbing volunteers, including NIU alumni Ben Peterson and Mark Biernacki.
“I joined this program for the chance to support TDS’s mission in Nyegina,” said Peterson, who first visited the area in 2011 as part of Thurmaier’s study abroad program. “Also, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro looks like it will be quite an adventure on its own.”
And it was. Taking the Lemosho Route, a five and a half day trek to the summit, the TDS crew successfully reached their goal Jan.30 and unfurled the same NIU flag that made it to the Uhuru Peak in the 2012 climb.
For Biernacki, that was one of many rewarding moments.
“We were rewarded in the way that we have tested ourselves and passed the self-imposed exam of scaling one of the world’s highest mountains,” Biernacki said. “But, more importantly, we were rewarded with the knowledge that we have made a difference, largely due to our donors who have so generously given. What we and our donors have done will have real and tangible meaning for the people of Nyegina and northwest Tanzania.”
The tangible results include more than $55,000 that was raised by volunteers. The funds will support a much needed computer lab wing for the library, so teachers and students will have access to modern day technology.
“The computer labs will connect these children and their families to the global community with high-speed Internet connections and computer literacy training,” Thurmaier said. “The money we raise in the climb will change their lives forever, helping them out of poverty and into healthier, longer, more satisfying lives.”
Although this was Thurmaier’s second climb to Mount Kilimanjaro, he described it as a “totally different experience.”
“This time, we stayed together as a group and we all arrived together at Uhuru Peak about 7:45 a.m. on Jan. 30,” Thurmaier said. “The final ascent was very emotional for everyone. We had been climbing very slowly and at about 19,000 feet, the sun broke across the horizon, shining on Africa and on us. It was an unforgettable moment for all us.”
by Jane Donahue
Date posted: February 10, 2016 | Author: Jane Donahue | Comments Off on NIU professor on sabbatical tackles Mount Kilimanjaro
From May 23 through June 10, students will be immersed in Latin American culture, taking classes at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo while living with a host family.
“The entire experience is enriching in very many ways,” said program director Frances Jaeger, associate professor of Spanish of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. “The academic value of the program is there, but what really enhances everything is the fact that we are in a radically different setting, and students get to see a totally different lifestyle.”
In its second year, this study abroad program is coordinated by the NIU Study Abroad Office (SOA), in cooperation with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Students have the opportunity to earn four credit hours over the three-week period.
And while relatively new, Jaeger said the Mendoza program has a deep-rooted Huskie connection.
“Through two very successful Fulbright exchanges, NIU has strong ties to the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo,” Jaeger said. “The director of the study abroad program and instructor are the people who have lived on the NIU campus as Fulbright exchanges. They know our students and our community.”
Jaeger said there is an established bond which makes this study abroad program successful.
“There is a bond there and that is really important,” Jaeger said. “We have a history with these people and they strongly identify with NIU.”
Student Danielle Dyra, happy to have reached the summit during a hike, pops a handstand.
Another program highlight is Mendoza’s proximity to the Andes mountain range, which allows for a variety of excursions that are included in the cost of the program. Whether hiking, horseback riding or hiking to a lookout point near Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes mountain range, there’s something for everyone.
“We really pack in as much as we can in just a few weeks,” Jaeger said. “Every weekend we are doing something amazing.”
Mendoza is also wine country, and part of the study abroad program includes a wine appreciation course where students visit three vineyards and learn about wine.
“Our goal was to make this a program that is accessible to many students who maybe didn’t think about studying abroad,” Jaeger said. “It is really for students of any major; you don’t have to be a Spanish major. Students from all backgrounds are invited to be part of it.”
Learn more about this program and others during the Spring Study Abroad Fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Glass Gallery in the Holmes Student Center.