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A week at summer camp can be life-changing for a young person. Campers have the chance to build friendships, gain confidence, develop their academic or artistic skills, and explore career pathways. So when camp directors across the university learned that in-person summer camps had to be canceled this year, they were disappointed at first. Ingenuity and innovation soon came to the fore, however, as they began brainstorming how to bring summer camps online.

“Our NIU STEAM team, led by Camp Director Jeremy Benson, has taken several of our traditional camp topics and transformed them to work at home, turning physical science camp into Kitchen Counter Science and our amusement park camp into the Rube Goldberg Challenge,” says Amy Jo Clemens, director of NIU’s Center for P-20 Engagement. “Our video game design and esports camps lend themselves well to an online format, and we also have a couple of new ideas that we’ve never offered before like Become a Weather Forecaster and Make Your Art Move. It’ll be a summer to remember, for sure.”

“It’s been invigorating to start from scratch and create a camp that meets the very specific needs of this unprecedented moment we’re collectively experiencing,” says Assistant Professor

Camp directors are redesigning hands-on learning activities for online camps using supplies and technology most families have on hand.

Kendra Holton, who is leading the online theatre arts summer camps offered by NIU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

“My driving goal is to create a meaningful container where artistic young people who are living through a global pandemic can bring their joy, their grief and their truth,” she continues. “Our camp is known and loved for open-hearted, nonjudgmental connectivity of campers and staff. Self-expression is encouraged, so students feel safe to be themselves. This is a time when we all need a space to do that more than ever before.”

In fact, building interaction and community among the campers is a key goal for all the camp directors.

According to Benson, “We saw a lot of other at-home science kits and programs being offered that provided activities and materials, but they were mostly independent projects with step-by-step instructions. For our camps, we really wanted to make sure we kept that sense of being part of a group, and of sharing that experience with other campers. We worked to come up with ways that campers can still share ideas and work together through our online platform while completing more open-ended challenges and projects.”

To that end, the NIU STEAM camps offer a balance of online interaction and independent at-home projects for campers entering grades 3 through 12. With a range of topics – from Creative Writing to Video Game Design to Exploring Careers in Science – and a variety of one- and four-week formats, campers can choose a camp that fits their interests and the technology they have available at home.

Aline Click, director of eLearning and the Digital Convergence Lab, emphasizes the technology requirements for video game design, esports and coding camps. “Unlike other online summer camps,” notes Click, “the video game design camps require a certain level of computer to run the game development software.”

Campers who do have access to the necessary technology will have exciting opportunities to design virtual worlds using Minecraft, create their own video games using Unity or GameMaker, or practice competitive esports.

Click says, “It’s hard to pick just one favorite because we are excited about all of our camps, but this year we’re pleased to bring back our Unity video game design camp. We have a graduate student working with our team who will be teaching this camp along with our regular staff. Her senior project last year was developed in Unity, so she has a lot of experience.”

For campers looking for a more low-tech experience, a variety of camps are available that minimize the time online and maximize the time outdoors or engaged in hands-on activities.

“For many of our sessions, the emphasis will be on what the participants can create off-line, and then they will have the opportunity to come back together with our online camp community to share their creations,” says NIU STEM Outreach Director Pati Sievert. “Kitchen Counter Science, Weather Forecasting and Make Your Art Move are just a few examples of sessions that will get kids off the computer and moving while learning and creating.”

In fact, the camp directors agree that in spite of certain challenges, the online format offers exciting new opportunities.

Holton says that most theatre activities translate well to an online environment.

“Theatre schools all over the world went virtual in March, and the majority of the curriculum stands up well online,” she says. “Acting classes, movement techniques, voice work, playwriting, warm-ups, meditation, musical theatre – all of the beloved camp basics will be on the schedule, as well as new items inspired by technological shifts occurring in the industry. Our major changes will occur in the rehearsal and performance process, where we’re presented with more challenges but also very exciting new possibilities.”

The online camps have lower costs and sometimes offer the chance for siblings or families to participate together. The format also allows for some longer, four-week camps in which campers can delve deeply into a subject and create more elaborate independent projects.

“With the costs of a residential program, it’s been difficult to expand beyond a week, but the flexibility of online learning is allowing us to facilitate more comprehensive experiences for high school participants,” Sievert says.

Camp directors are also embracing the opportunity to open up their camps to students around the world.

“Camps are huge recruiting opportunities,” Holton says, “and a fully virtual camp experience means the usual geographic limitations are obliterated – anyone, anywhere can join us for camp! While we would, of course, prefer to have the campers on campus, there’s no denying how much this format extends the reach of the university. We’re hoping for a diverse population of long-time campers and new faces from all over the country.”

Browse or search all NIU summer camps at Register or learn more about NIU STEAM camps at Register or learn more about junior high and high school theatre arts camps at the College of Visual and Performing Arts summer camp web page.

Date posted: May 13, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU camps bring summer adventures online

Categories: Community Faculty & Staff Homepage Parents Students

NIU has a commitment to the efficient and reliable maintenance of its records, and a program that ensures valuable records are identified, preserved, easy to locate and retrieve when needed.

“Basically, it is knowing what you have, where you have it and how long to keep it,” said Ethics and Compliance Officer and Records Officer Sarah Garner.

The Ethics and Compliance Office works behind-the-scenes to ensure the university’s records are properly maintained. They provide direction and support to departments and divisions about how to accurately identify, retain and dispose of records in their possession.

“We assist departments in creating an efficient and economical record retention system so they keep the records that they are required to and not get buried in or overwhelmed with paperwork and documents,” Garner said.

University records are considered records of the state of Illinois – whether they are in paper or digital format – and may not be destroyed without the advanced approval of the Illinois Records Commission.

The Records Management Reference Manual for Illinois State Government Agencies can help guide an employee through the life cycle of a record, and individual departments’ requirement to maintain a consistent records’ management schedule.

“Departments simply need to make sure their records are identified in a record schedule and then follow the retention procedures found in that schedule,” Garner said.

If records are not identified in a record schedule, the department should contact the Ethics and Compliance Office in order to inventory the records and create a schedule.

“It is a simple process and departments have one-on-one assistance from our office throughout every stage, from creation of the record to storage and destruction,” Garner said. “You can feel the department’s sigh of relief when they are able to destroy records they have been holding on to that are due for destruction.”

Go to NIU Records Management to learn more.

Date posted: May 11, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on On the record: NIU offers assistance with records management

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage

The Northern Illinois University Libraries are the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for nearly $350,000, part of $22.2 million in awards recently announced by the NEH. Other Illinois recipients this year include the Field Museum of Natural History and the Newberry Library.

Students scan items to include in the Library’s digital collection.

NIU’s project is directed by Matthew Short, Digital Collections and Metadata librarian at the university. More than 4,400 volumes of dime novels and story papers published by Street & Smith, a New York City firm in operation from 1855 to 1959, will be digitized. The project will provide images and full texts of the works, catalog records for the volumes and indexed entries for every story, series and author, to augment an existing online bibliography of dime novels that can be found at NIU will partner with academic libraries at Villanova University, Stanford University, Bowling Green State University and Oberlin College on this effort.

Short said that digitizing these works is a last chance at preserving an important part of American culture.

“Many of these publications were printed on very cheap paper and little effort went into preserving them. Often, they’ve started to disintegrate before we can even begin to scan them,” Short said. “This is a huge part of our cultural heritage that we’re talking about. Every popular genre you can think of—the western, the detective novel—they all evolved in the dime novel format. In many ways, the dime novel is also where we came to terms with what it meant to be an American—developing the narrative about our national origin and what we valued as a people—especially during the Civil War.”

In the late 19th century, publishers of cheap fiction in the United States produced thousands of dime novels that sold millions of copies through subscriptions, newsstands, train stations, dry goods stores and virtually everywhere else except bookstores. While most clothbound novels were a relative luxury that might cost a dollar or more—equivalent to a laborer’s wages for twelve hours of work—the dime novel was something that almost anyone could afford.

“Many of the earliest dime novels were pirated from Europe, including the works of Eugène Sue and Charles Dickens,” Short said. “Although the format eventually developed its own writers, like Edward L. Wheeler and Metta Victor, the major difference between the dime novel and the clothbound novel was accessibility.”

Readers included children, women, immigrants and an increasingly literate working class.

Because they were read by practically everyone, dime novels can also provide social and cultural historians with insight into what diverse groups of Americans were thinking and feeling at the end of the 19th century. They feature a surprising amount of racial diversity, with Native American, Black or Chinese characters appearing in almost every novel. While these depictions are rarely very nuanced, and often quite offensive, they are relevant to understanding how opinions about race and ethnicity have evolved since the dime novel era.

Similarly, dime novels are fertile grounds for understanding popular conceptions of gender and sexuality. Western heroes, like Denver Doll and Calamity Jane, broke long-established gender norms, not only in their appearance, but in their behavior: they resisted marriage, operated their own businesses, solved crimes and fought alongside their male companions. Detective fiction is similarly full of gender transgressions, especially through the use of disguise and secret identities.

Libraries did not collect popular fiction in the 19th century, however, viewing it as a distraction at best, and a corrupting influence at worst. NIU holds two of the largest collections of dime novels in the country, purchased from Albert Johannsen and Edward T. LeBlanc, collectors and dime novel scholars active in the 20th century. Large-scale cataloging and digitization of these collections has been underway since 2012. More than 7,800 dime novels and story papers are available on Nickels and Dimes, an online collection hosted by NIU. The Johannsen and LeBlanc dime novel collections are part of a larger popular culture collection, including comic books, science fiction and Horatio Alger materials, held in NIU Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections.

NIU’s “Street & Smith Project” will digitize the dime novels and story papers of the only major publisher to survive the dime novel era and successfully transition into publishing pulp magazines and comic books. The project builds on the collaboration between NIU and Villanova on the Albert Johannsen Project to digitize the publications of Beadle & Adams, the first dime novel publisher. In addition to making thousands of these publications freely and widely available for the first time anywhere in more than a century, the project will add index entries for every story, series and author to an online dime novel bibliography. The bibliography will aggregate each partner’s digital dime novel holdings, while unpacking the complex relationships that exist between the dime novels themselves.

The digitization process at NIU is done by using large overhead scanners called Zeutschels, and involves carefully scanning each page of each novel, one at a time. The materials can be very fragile, so preservation and conservation work is always part of the process. This kind of stabilization is crucial, and so is disbinding. Many of the dime novels were bound together by collectors on the aftermarket, so before they can be scanned, all of the bindings must be removed.

The exact NEH grant award for the Street & Smith Project at NIU is $348,630, and 4,409 volumes of dime novels and story papers will be digitized. From these, NIU will be digitizing 3,341 volumes, containing 77,975 pages, which will be added to Nickels and Dimes. 

Date posted: April 20, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU Libraries receive grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage NIU Libraries Students

Through creative partnerships, community-based projects, internships, and research and teaching with real-world applications, NIU has long been known for engaging with the wider community. During this challenging time, that engagement is more important than ever. But how can we continue to stay connected and make a positive impact in our communities?

That’s where the new NIU Keep Engaging website comes in. A website designed for faculty and staff, students and community, the NIU Keep Engaging website offers opportunities to volunteer, help the community and learn new skills, all while sheltering in place safely.

The new website is divided into four pages. Engagement for Everyone presents volunteer, learning and socializing opportunities for everyone. The other three pages present specific engagement opportunities tailored to faculty and staff, students and community members.

“Engagement matters now more than ever,” says Rena Cotsones, associate vice president of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development. “Difficult times cause us to turn to one another to develop new solutions. It is important for all of us to continue to work with our partners, our students and all the people in our networks who can help us create new ways of addressing mutual needs.” 

“The site was created to provide options and channels for students, faculty and community to continue engagement outside of the classroom,” says Michaela Holtz, director of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning at NIU. “Our current situation completely upends our ways of teaching and learning, but we continue to do that as best as we can. The same applies to engaging with others. Especially during this time, it provides us the opportunity to grow, stay curious and stay connected.”

The NIU Keep Engaging website is a collaboration between the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning in the Division of Academic Affairs, and the Recreation and Wellness Center in the Division of Student Affairs.

Date posted: April 20, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on New NIU website offers tips to Keep Engaging

Categories: Community Engagement Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

Robert Brinkmann

Robert (Bob) Brinkmann, a professor of geology, environment and sustainability at Hofstra University, has been named the ninth dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). He will assume the role on Wednesday, July 1.

“I’m delighted that Dr. Brinkmann will be joining us to lead the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Beth Ingram. “He brings with him a wealth of leadership experience and a deep commitment to our values. He is a prolific scholar with a focus on sustainability and collaborative research, which will serve both CLAS and NIU well.”

Brinkmann served at Hofstra as dean of Graduate Studies and vice provost for Research. He has published several books and articles including the first major textbook on sustainability, “Introduction to Sustainability.” His book, “Environmental Sustainability in a Time of Change,” came out in 2019 and his edited book (with Sandra Garren) on suburban sustainability will be published this year. In addition to having a popular sustainability blog, he is the former chair of the board of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute and has served as the co-editor of the Southeastern Geographerand associate editor for the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies.

He earned his graduate degrees from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His first academic experience came at the University of South Florida (USF). Arriving as an assistant professor in 1990, he earned the rank of full professor and served as chair of the Department of Geography and as interim associate dean for Faculty Development before becoming the first chair of USF’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy. 

His specific research interests are in geologic and environmental aspects in sustainability, an area influenced by childhood experiences exploring the wilderness of northern Wisconsin and an early professional experience.

“I was working in mineral exploration as a geologist, collecting mineral samples, in the early 1980s,” said Brinkmann. 

The surface area where Brinkmann was working was altered due to human activity, so it was difficult to obtain materials for a detailed analysis.

“There were very few people writing about human-induced environmental change. That provided me an opportunity to study how the world was changing,” he said.

Brinkmann grew up 90 miles from NIU, in western Racine County in Wisconsin. As one of six children in his family and living in a rural area, he identifies with the Huskie student body.

“NIU draws a lot of kids like me,” he said. “I was a rural kid. I really didn’t want to go to college – my dad pushed me into it.”

It was his undergraduate experience at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh that changed his mind.

“I appreciated what they [UW-Oshkosh] did for me,” he said. “NIU’s mission is similar, and that resonated with me.”

Brinkmann, who will begin his tenure on July 1, is arriving on campus during challenging times. While he acknowledges the challenges, he also sees opportunity.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to create a community of care. As we make decisions, I want to make sure that we are supporting our faculty, staff and students.”

Committed to NIU’s mission of providing quality education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, he sees the current environment as an opportunity to think about the use of teaching technology in a new way while being aware of equity and access issues.

In addition to leading, he’s looking forward to developing a deeper understanding of CLAS and the important roles it plays in teaching, research, equity and inclusion.

“I’m a collaborative leader,” he said. “I’ll be looking for advice on how to move ahead in trying times.”

Date posted: April 13, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on Meet the incoming dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Categories: Announcements Faculty & Staff Homepage Liberal Arts and Sciences Students

How can we manage the stress and isolation of sheltering in place? How do we cope with the challenges of working remotely and the anxiety of job uncertainty? How do we manage household relationships when resources, including technology and space, are limited? If you’re anxious about finances, working from home, managing the kids or coping with isolation, you’re not alone.

At the next online NIU STEM Café, learn coping strategies and find avenues to get help for yourself or family members with mental health experts from Northern Illinois University. The virtual STEM Café will take place on Wednesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. online via Adobe Connect. (See connection link and details below.)  

Hear from our panel of experts:

  • Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education.
  • Brian Smith, MSW, LCSW, director of the Employee Assistance Program.
  • Sarah Klaper, J.D., University Ombudsperson.

Susan Degges White

Suzanne Degges-White is a recognized expert and co-author of several books, including “Friends Forever,” “Toxic Friendships,” “Mothers and Daughters” and “Sisters and Brothers for Life.”

“Whatever you’re feeling is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation,” Degges-White says. “Crisis situations can bring out the best and the worst in us, and we have to cut ourselves and others some slack.”

Brian Smith, whose background includes over 25 years of mental health counseling, agrees. He says he hopes people will leave the online STEM Café with “an understanding that our physical and emotional reactions are a part of a natural survival response that we all experience.”

However, Smith emphasizes that we are not powerless in the face of these reactions. “By finding ways to cope, connect and persevere, we can respond to feelings of fear and powerlessness,” he says. “We have more power than we might think we do.”

Sarah Klaper

Sarah Klaper, an expert on conflict resolution and prevention within work environments, will focus specifically on healthy relationships and effective communication in the workplace – even when working remotely. “Now is as a good a time as any to set new, positive patterns,” she says.

Together, the three speakers plan to offer tips for addressing the wide variety of challenges people are facing in the time of COVID-19, including understanding and managing negative emotions, maintaining healthy relationships, parenting while working from home and developing healthy routines.

“Remember this is a temporary situation,” Degges-White says, “and the goal is to get us moving forward to a place where we can all feel safe and remain healthy. The human spirit is strong and if we know why we’re having to live under these new constraints, we can find our ‘how.’”

Access the Coping with Stress online meeting between 5:30 and 5:50 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15. The presentation will begin promptly at 6 p.m. and will last approximately two hours. On a computer, the Chrome browser works best, and you will be asked to download the Adobe Connect app. For tablets and mobile phones, go to your app store and download the Adobe Connect mobile app before attending. You will be able to listen to the speakers and will have a chance to type in your questions.

NIU STEM Cafés are sponsored by NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. For more information, visit NIU STEAM or contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or email [email protected].

NIU STEM Cafés are grateful for the support of our community partners, the restaurants that usually host our cafés. Although we had to cancel in-person cafés, take advantage of these offers from our partners: At Fatty’s Pub & Grille in DeKalb, get 10% off your takeout meal if you mention that you attended the online STEM Café. Or, until Friday, May 15, get $5 off your carry out meal from Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove if you attended an NIU Virtual STEM Café.

Date posted: April 13, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on Online NIU STEM Café: Stressed and depressed? You’re not alone

Categories: Centerpiece Community Events Faculty & Staff Parents Students

Before the coronavirus changed university life as we know it, NIU freshman Maddie Dossett received a lesson in environmental justice and teamwork when she traveled to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky. Dossett, who is majoring in environmental studies, was one of 50 NIU students and five faculty members who took part in the Huskie Alternative Breaks program held March 8-14.

Land Between the Lakes – Environmental Justice (Golden Pond, KY) 

“This was an opportunity to experience something that we would never have the chance to do in our everyday lives,” said Dossett.

The Huskie Alternative Breaks (HAB) program is centered on creating transformative, community engagement experiences for students. This unique service-learning program, which aligns with the university’s spring break, provides students and faculty the opportunity to evaluate current social issues and seek ways to continually change the world.

“Experiences like the Huskie Alternative Breaks allow students to get out of their comfort zone and truly apply ideas they have been learning in the classroom to real life situations,” said Taylor Donelson, graduate assistant in the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning. “It provides a unique opportunity to travel, learn new skills and ideas, and a chance to make an impact on other communities around the United States.”

Donelson said students gain tangible skills for their future careers, and more.

“Students hope to gain a new perspective on service-learning, lasting relationships with like-minded NIU students, marketable leadership and teamwork skills, and a meaningful spring break week,” Donelson said. “I think they often come back with much more than they even imagined.”

Civil Rights Group (Selma, AL)

Joseph Flynn, associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction and associate director for Academic Affairs for the Center for Black Studies at NIU, chaperoned a group of 10 students during a memorable civil rights trip to Selma, Alabama.

“Students gained new knowledge about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and could further connect with the experience by actually being in those places,” Flynn said. “Things like seeing how small Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge is — the bridge crossed on “Bloody Sunday” in 1965 — is much more visceral than seeing it in books or movies.”

Flynn said besides lessons in history, alternative spring breaks provide additional benefits.

“I hope they were able to get a little outside their comfort zones because that’s how we all grow,” Flynn said. “I strongly recommend more students look into alternative spring break trips and study abroad trips as well. They are great experiences where you have the chance to see more of the world and experience new people.”

Dossett shared the sentiment.

“Everyone should at least try to go on a Huskie Alternative Break trip because you might not think that it will benefit you in any way, but it is the complete opposite,” Dossett said. “No matter your major, where you come from or even your interests, it will benefit you in so many ways.”

2021 Huskie Alternative Breaks

Site leader applications for 2021 are  now open.

Participant applications will be open in August. Go to Huskie Alternative Breaks to learn more or follow them on Facebook @HuskieAlternativeBreaks to stay up to date with application deadlines. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

Dossett’s trip to western Kentucky combined her passion for the environment with service and exploration. Along with eight other students, Dossett helped with a broad range of projects at the national recreation area, from tree planting, restoration and environmental education, to farm work, shoreline cleanups and heritage/archeology projects.

In addition, Dossett said, it was an opportunity to build important relationships with fellow Huskies.

“It’s hard to imagine spending the whole week volunteering with a group of people that you barely know, but it was honestly the best experience I have ever had,” Dossett said. “I have built relationships that I will have for the rest of my life.”

NIU sophomore Dioco Reyes was a site leader for a trip to Michigan where nine students worked for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.

“HAB is an amazing opportunity for participants to travel and learn about another community outside of [NIU] and DeKalb,” Reyes said. “It provides an engaging firsthand experience and creates impactful memories for participants to cherish.”

In turn, Reyes said, alternative breaks give students an opportunity to become active citizens.

“Opportunities like this help develop one’s character and ethics,” Reyes said. “Participants learn more about various social issues that other communities are facing; they can apply this knowledge to NIU or DeKalb.”

To learn more about this year’s adventures, go to 2020 Huskie Alternative Breaks.

Here’s where Huskies made a difference during the 2020 Huskie Alternative Breaks:

Immigration Advocacy: Changing the Narrative – South Bend, Indiana

La Casa – Immigration Advocacy Group (South Bend, IN)

This alternative break will allow you work with a not-for-profit organization, La Casa de Amistad, which serves youth and immigrant Latino/Hispanic communities by providing educational, cultural and advocacy services in a welcoming environment. The HAB participants will work with youth programs, or help adults practice for the naturalization interview (citizenship exam), or help the organization with projects in their home repair or neighborhood cleanup. Through this service, the organization can help teach and reflect on the issues that affect their immigrant community.
Co-hosted by NIU’s Center for Latin and Latino American Studies.

Environmental Justice: Past, Present and Future – Golden Pond, Kentucky
This experience is a great opportunity to combine your passion for hiking, the outdoors and the environment through service and exploration of Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky. The HAB participants will help with a broad range of projects, from tree planting, restoration, environmental education, to farm work, shoreline cleanups and heritage/ archeology projects. You’ll also appreciate spending time at the 1850s living history farm, Woodlands Nature Station, and elk and bison viewing area.
Co-hosted by NIU’s Outdoor Adventures.

Civic Engagement: Why Does it Matter? – Memphis, Tennessee

Serve901- Civic Engagement Group (Memphis, TN)

Make a lasting impact through this service-learning experience and learn how Memphis cares about people and place. Spend your spring break with Serve901, an organization that connects college students with organizations to facilitate interpersonal development and a renewed perspective of civic advocacy, interdependence and respect for diversity. Serve901 believes that Memphis changes people, teaching them to care more about the world around them. Go and see! Students assist with projects related to hospitality, school-based small learning groups, urban farming and after-school programs in addition to visiting the national Civil Rights Museum.
Co-hosted by NIU’s Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies.

Community Development: Helping to Build a Stronger Future – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Their vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. This trip will involve much more than just construction of a building – it will execute a neighborhood-focused plan to expand affordable housing, health, education and economic opportunities for the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood. Students will be building a bilingual pharmacy for the community, in addition to other projects, such as painting and interior carpentry, building walls and floor systems in the panel shop.
Co-hosted by NIU’s University Honors Program.

Civil Rights: In the Land of the Heroes – Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham
Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project is partnered with the Blackbelt and Central Alabama Housing to provide exceptional opportunities for service-learning experiences. They strive to initiate experiences that foster a cultural exchange as well as a deeper understanding of social issues. Through these experiences, students are motivated to become active, engaged citizens in their communities. During their time in Selma, participants will work with very low-income residents who otherwise could not afford the costs to make improvements on their home. The community host site leader marched with Dr. Martin Luther King when he was a student and can provide inspirational insights of the civil rights movement to student volunteers.
Co-hosted by NIU’s Center for Black Studies.


Date posted: April 6, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on Huskie Alternative Breaks provide learning outside the classroom

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

Weeks before the governor issued a shelter-in-place order and long before Huskies took to online learning, an exciting event was held in honor of NIU’s 125th anniversary year.

On Tuesday, March 3, more than 100 students gathered to share a meal and their artistic talents during the Paint and Pizza Party sponsored by Stacey and Dennis Barsema. Under the direction of Sycamore-based artist Chelsea McGhee, Huskies created a tile mural at the Holmes Student Center that’s a reflection of the community that’s proud to call NIU home. 

Tiled-mural in the Holmes Student Center that was created by students as part of “Paint and Pizza,” a 125th Anniversary Celebration event.

“We wanted to bring students together to create something that would celebrate our 125th anniversary,” said committee member Stacey Barsema. “Paint and pizza seemed like a great way to do that.”

Committee member Meg Junk, chief of staff to the Dean of Students, shared the sentiment.

“This was a really awesome opportunity to put some colorful visuals behind our 125th anniversary in a place that hundreds of people will see every day,” Junk said. “It was also a fun event that would really engage students in the celebration.”

Barsema said McGhee was the event’s creative mastermind, working behind-the-scenes to create the pieces for students to paint. Due to logistics, participation was capped at a total of 60 student painters, and another 40 students stopped in to share pizza and dessert.

“We thought students would grab and go, but the awesome piece of this is that they didn’t want to leave,” Barsema said. “They were having so much fun, they stayed and painted the whole time. It was really lovely to see.”

The mural’s message – one of Huskie Pride – is a testament to the campus community.

“It is amazing to see the detail that went into each piece and how careful each student was,” Barsema said. “They are all different and beautiful; it was an amazing group effort.”

The mural is currently on display in the Holmes Student Center across from Starbucks.

Date posted: April 6, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on Paint and Pizza Party delivers Huskie Pride

Categories: Faculty & Staff Homepage Students

Admissions counselors at NIU might not have the ability to meet face-to-face with prospective students, but connections remain strong through an enhanced virtual environment.

Virtual tours, information sessions and appointments coordinated through a newly created Undergraduate Admissions website allow students to see campus, ask questions and do all the things they would have done in person before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Prospective students can now engage with the Office of Admissions virtually through online information sessions, virtual campus tours, group chats and one-on-one appointments with Admissions counselors.

Through the expanded options, NIU’s counselors continue to meet students where they are in a personable way, said Quinton Clay, director of Admissions.

In many ways, the newly created virtual environment puts additional tools in the hands of both counselors and prospective students, he said.

Students can choose between information sessions in English and Spanish, those designed specifically for transfer students, as well as those geared toward prospective students who are the first in their families to go to college.

Along with group chats, prospective freshmen and transfer students also can set up one-on-one virtual appointments with Admissions counselors.

Quinton Clay, director of Admissions

“I think this is certainly one of those things that has been, if anything, a bright spot in some very tough moments I think all of us are going through,” Clay said. “It’s meaningful to find ways to connect, and I think we each value and appreciate human interaction a little more than we have before.”

NIU already had some virtual options and had intended to expand those. The recent pandemic accelerated those efforts, Clay said.

Reactions from both prospective students and staff have been enthusiastic, with students remaining attentive and engaged in the virtual interactions, he said.

Students are encouraged to get comfortable as they interact informally online, while browsing through the university’s many available online resources.

“This generation likes to multitask and loves to use several mediums at once,” Clay said. “This is the perfect opportunity, and it’s completely appropriate for these conversations.

“From firsthand experience, I’ve seen how impactful this can be. I’ve seen it work.”

Along with the virtual information sessions and appointments, prospective students can check out NIU through a variety of virtual tour options: a flyover of campus, an in-depth walking tour or a tour designed specifically for parents or families.

The new site also features videos and a glimpse of huskiesofNIU on Instagram.

Date posted: April 6, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU amplifies virtual options to engage prospective students

Categories: Centerpiece Faculty & Staff First-Generation Prospective Students Students

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order to close nonessential businesses and the statewide mandate for residents to shelter in place has changed life as we know it, but there is one thing that remains unchanged.

Members of DeKalb County Unites meet online to discuss ways to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In DeKalb County, we come together to help our neighbors. In good times or challenging times, DeKalb County unites.

In response to the coronavirus and the unprecedented challenges that come with the pandemic, a group of Northern Illinois University (NIU) and DeKalb County leaders have banded together to form DeKalb County University and Neighbors Investing Together for Economic Success (DeKalb County UNITES), a task force focused on helping small businesses remain viable during this period of restrictions and economic uncertainty.

“As an anchor institution in the community, NIU has a deep commitment to ensuring the economic viability and quality of life in DeKalb County,” said Rena Cotsones, NIU associate vice president of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development. “Small businesses are the heart of any community, and they need help right now.”

Cotsones and Cohen Barnes, president of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation and owner of SundogIT, are co-chairing DeKalb County UNITES. The group is reaching out to businesses and local residents to urge them to direct their purchasing power to small businesses in DeKalb County. They have also created an online source that provides small businesses with updates, resources, tools and tips for getting through the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our business community employs our neighbors and family members, they support our schools and our nonprofits, and they provide products and services that help define what a great county we live in,” Barnes said. “They are a vital part of the lifeblood we call DeKalb County; they are in crisis right now and need all of us, no matter in how small a way, to do our part.”

Cotsones shared the sentiment.

“Many are struggling to keep their employees employed and paid,” Cotsones said. “DeKalb County UNITES is developing strategies and moving to quick implementation to support them in these efforts.”

Community members can go to the DeKalb County UNITES website to keep up to date with the latest resources. A webinar is planned for Friday, April 3, at 10 a.m. and will be the first in a series to help small businesses as they navigate their way through these uncertain times.

“As a small business owner, I am going through my own COVID-19 trials and tribulations with my organization on a daily basis,” Barnes said. “We have heard from a lot of organizations that knowing there is a group out there who is doing everything they can to drive additional business to those small businesses during this time is great. Just knowing that helps.”

Date posted: April 1, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on DeKalb County UNITES in response to COVID-19

Categories: Centerpiece Community Engagement Faculty & Staff

What are DeKalb County public health professionals doing to stem the tide of COVID-19? How many cases are there in DeKalb? What can you do to protect yourself and your community?

Join us for an online discussion with DeKalb County Health Department professionals on Wednesday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. This virtual STEM Café is brought to you by NIU STEAM, in the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, and is free and available to the public.

Hear from the DeKalb County public health professionals who are in the trenches of the battle against COVID-19: Public Health Administrator Lisa Gonzalez, MPH; Director of Community Health & Prevention and Emergency Preparedness Cindy Graves, RN, MSHA; and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Melissa Edwards, MPH.

Learn how the DeKalb County Health Department is responding to COVID-19, including:

  • Planning and collaborating with community partners.
  • Notifying others about potential cases.
  • Investigating cases.
  • Informing the community about protective measures. 
  • Getting information out to the public.

Access the online meeting just prior to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1. On a computer, the Chrome browser works best, and you will be asked to download the Adobe Connect app. For tablets and mobile phones, go to your app store and download the Adobe Connect mobile app before attending. You will be able to listen to the speakers and will have a chance to type in your questions.

The DeKalb County Health Department offers a full array of public health programs and is certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health. For the latest public health information, visit the DeKalb County Health Department website.

Northern Illinois University STEM Cafés are sponsored by NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. For more information, visit NIU STEAM or contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or email [email protected].

Date posted: March 30, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on Online NIU STEM Café: DeKalb County Health Department responds to COVID-19

Categories: Community Faculty & Staff Homepage Parents Students

On Saturday, Feb. 29, the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) held its first Engineering Open House in 2020, which was attended by 135 prospective high school and transfer students with 241 parents and guests for a total of 376 visitors. They were welcomed by Dean Donald Peterson in the auditorium, who gave an overview of the college, then they heard presentations by the department chairs and alumni to learn more about each major. Student ambassadors gave tours of the Engineering Building and the Engineering Technology labs at Still Hall. Faculty were present to provide their perspectives on the prospects for careers in engineering and degree programs offered by CEET.

Feedback collected in exit surveys from guests was very positive. Overall, 91% rated the event excellent or very good and 97% said either they themselves or their student would likely apply to NIU’s CEET. Of guests who attended tours at the Engineering Technology Department, 100% said overwhelmingly that they found the department visit to be “exciting,” and 81% are now considering enrolling in Engineering Technology more seriously after the visit. In fact, 78% said there is more than a 50% chance that they will enroll (or recommend someone to enroll) in Engineering Technology.

In addition to coming from across the Chicagoland area, prospective students came as far as Oregon, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan and Peoria, Illinois. Three groups of Illinois high school students came with their teachers from Proviso West High School in Hillside, Harvest Christian Academy High School in Oswego and Rock Valley Community College in Rockford. Two high school science teachers attended from Oswego East High School to see what CEET can offer students, as did the engineering department chair from the College of DuPage.


Date posted: March 4, 2020 | Author: | Comments Off on Engineering Open House hosts 376 guests

Categories: Engineering and Engineering Technology Homepage Parents Prospective Students