Share Tweet Share Email

Altgeld Hall in winterAlmost immediately upon my arrival at NIU, I set forth Ethically Inspired Leadership as one of the pillars that would support all of my administration’s efforts on behalf of the university. Key to delivering on this commitment is to be clear and transparent in our response to issues raised about our stewardship of university resources. For that reason, I would like to address two recent concerns raised in social media about the use of funds in the president’s office.

First, a question has arisen regarding my wife’s (Dr. Dana Stover) travel on behalf of NIU for a total of $4,600 over the last two-and-a half years. In fact, Dana does travel to work for the university (without compensation). From time to time she accompanies me, and works alongside me, as we meet with current and potential donors on behalf of NIU to raise money to support our students, faculty and staff. Such travel is common practice for presidents’ spouses/partners in higher education, and reimbursement of her travel expenses for such work is covered in my contract, signed by the NIU Board of Trustees, and has been common practice with previous presidents.

Questions were also raised about seat upgrades. To clarify that issue, twice during the time in question, Dana’s typical coach seat had to be upgraded to ensure that she could be booked on the proper flight. The total cost was $94.

Dana plays a crucial role that many other university president’s spouses/partners play, namely working in the community and across the university to build relationships, serve on boards, engage with students and donors, volunteering her time for all of these activities. Her prior career as a faculty member and administrator has prepared her well for this role, and she has done it enthusiastically and with great success.

Additionally, a question also was raised regarding travel reimbursements of about $2,800 to Magaly Rodriguez, a former affiliate employee. In this instance, the university’s payment for her travel was not appropriate. When that error was recognized last July, steps were taken to recoup the funds from Ms. Rodriguez.

An instance like the one described above was among the reasons that I implemented an examination and overhaul of the longstanding financial procedures in the president’s office. For the past year we have been engaged in the same process re-engineering that is taking place in departments across campus. As a result, we have streamlined operations and made our dealings more transparent. We have benefited greatly from budgets more accurate than those that were in place when I arrived. This also has allowed us to monitor our activities more closely and reduce spending dramatically.

These changes in bookkeeping and budgeting are two examples among many aimed at making Northern Illinois University a model institution when it comes to issues of both financial sustainability and ethical leadership. My focus going forward is to navigate us through the budget impasse, coming out of it as a stronger, more financially viable institution for the long haul while focusing on our keystone goal of student career success.

Together forward,


Date posted: February 10, 2016 | Author: | Comments Off on President Baker: Clearing the air on travel

Categories: Latest News


NIU students participating in the Remember Chicago Winter Giveaway included (back row from left) Wale Adetunji, Donnell Singleton, Amirius Clinton, Dexter Matthews, (middle row) Tatyanna Duke, Jasmine Ivy, Jakia Dase, Bernadette Chatman, Tondi Bailey, (front row) Raven Bryan, Yannick Koua, Shaka Ford and Ciera Williams

A group of about 20 students from Northern Illinois University returned to the Chicago communities from which they graduated high school to participate in The Remember Project’s second annual Winter Giveaway on Dec. 16.

The students represented a variety of campus organizations such as the Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities, B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S., E.B.O.N.Y. and WOMEN.

Those groups conducted winter clothing drives on campus during the fall, and then gathered on Wednesday in Chicago to sort the gear by gender and size and distribute it to families in need. They provided winter clothing to about 250 people.

Afterward, members of the group helped the St. Sabina Catholic Church (where the event was held) feed and greet nearly 2,500 people who were treated to a hot meal thanks to a donation from BJ’s Market and Bakery.

“This was our second annual Winter Giveaway, and it was a true success,” said Randiss Hopkins, a senior at NIU who is studying jazz piano and community leadership. “Our collaboration with St. Sabina was a big part of that success and we look forward to partnering with them on other events in the future.”

Hopkins founded the Remember Project in the fall of 2013 at NIU. He had noticed that many of his fellow Chicago high school graduates had moved into leadership roles at the university, and he created the organization to get them to redirect some of their energy and skills back into the communities where they grew up.

Since he created the Remember Project he has recruited other Chicago area students attending nearly 25 different universities across Illinois and around the nation to participate in the project. Their next planned event will be their One Voice initiative this spring when members of the group will visit schools throughout Chicago urging students to pursue higher education.

Date posted: December 18, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU’s Remember Project spreads holiday cheer in Chicago

Categories: Community Students Uncategorized

NIU President Doug Baker and SVCC President Scott Hellmich, sign agreements Tuesday that create new pathways to degrees for SVCC students.

NIU President Doug Baker and SVCC President Scott Hellmich sign agreements Tuesday that create new pathways to degrees for SVCC students.

A pair of new agreements between Sauk Valley Community College and Northern Illinois University will make it easier for SVCC students to earn college degrees that will set them on the path to career success.

In a ceremony Tuesday, the two institutions signed a new degree completion program that will allow some SVCC students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Technology degree from NIU without leaving the region. They also celebrated a reverse transfer agreement put in place last month, which will allow NIU students who previously attended SVCC to apply credits from the university toward the completion of their associate degree at the community college.

“Post-secondary education is a powerful force for career advancement, and a skilled workforce helps the region maintain its competitive advantage,” NIU President Doug Baker said. “Both NIU and SVCC are committed to providing affordable access to high-quality educational opportunities, and we are delighted to partner with them on these initiatives, which eliminate barriers and foster innovative educational pathways between levels of higher education.”

Online Degree Completion for Engineering Students

The agreement signed Tuesday is aimed specifically at SVCC students who have earned an associate of applied science in electronic engineering technology, heating refrigeration and air conditioning, multicraft technology or sustainable technologies.

An NIU engineering studentStudents who earn associate of applied science degrees now can complete remaining general education and B.S. program prerequisites at SVCC or NIU before taking their final 30 hours of technology courses with NIU, either online or at the university’s DeKalb campus. Upon completion of that work, students will graduate with a bachelor of science in technology with an emphasis is applied manufacturing technology from NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

“This is a great program for place-bound professionals who are working or already have their AAS degree,” said Cliff Mirman, chair of the NIU Department of Technology. “It allows them to take classes online, at their own pace, to earn a bachelor’s degree, which ultimately opens up many opportunities for career advancement.”

The online component features recorded lectures by NIU faculty, the opportunity to interact with faculty and an array of online materials that enrich the learning experience, Mirman said.

Promod Vohra, dean of the engineering school at NIU, hailed the program as a boon to the Illinois economy. “Engineers are the catalyst of innovation,” Vohra said. “We are excited about programs like these because they help ensure that our region will remain a vital player in the global economy by creating new engineers.”

SVCC adjunct professor Steven McPherson commented on the connection between the program and the expansion of local industry. “This program presents an excellent opportunity for industrial technology students at SVCC to continue their education and increase their value to our local industry. It also provides a great resource for local industry to help expand their trained workforce through a local program.”

For more information, contact Stacey Deegan at (815) 753-9943 or [email protected] or Academic Advising at SVCC at (815) 288-5511 or [email protected].

Reverse Transfer Agreement

Sauk Valley Community College logoAlso Tuesday, leaders from the two institutions celebrated a memorandum of understanding signed last month that will allow eligible NIU students who transferred from SVCC without associate degrees to earn the two-year degree using credit from NIU courses.

“It is a wonderful tool that allows students to demonstrate to future employers and graduate institutions their determination to excel, and another example of how institutions of public higher education in Illinois can collaborate to deliver high-quality, affordable education,” Baker said.

“These programs create crucial two-way communication between our institutions, providing a win-win for students at both SVCC and NIU. SVCC students can complete their credentials with us while pursuing their academic endeavors at four-year institutions like NIU,” SVCC President David Hellmich said.

A 2014 NIU Center for Governmental Studies report to the Illinois Community College Board found that an Illinois community college education increases earnings for workers, add skills to the state’s workforce and boosts the state’s competitiveness. An Illinois community college graduate can expect a total lifetime earnings gain of more than $570,000 – a 44 percent increase over the average total lifetime earnings of those not completing a community college program.

Date posted: October 15, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU, Sauk Valley create new pathways to degrees

Categories: Degree Completion Programs Engineering and Engineering Technology Faculty & Staff Latest News

NIU President Doug Baker

NIU President Doug Baker

Last night our community was tested by a cruel hoax. The bomb threat, which temporarily shut down campus, was one of several this week made against colleges and universities in the region. It resulted in a great deal of inconvenience and frustration for our entire university community.

In light of those events, I want to underscore three key points.

First and foremost, I want to thank you, the students, for your cooperation in relocating to the Convocation Center and other safe locations outside of campus. Coming together as a community in these circumstances demonstrates your care, concern and commitment to one another.

Second, I want to acknowledge that too many messages were sent last night. Our goal was to make sure that every single student knew exactly what was going on at all times. Unfortunately, some texts and emails were sent multiple times while others were delayed. We realize that this created confusion and frustration. We learned from this experience and are already making changes that will improve the system.

Third, I want to stress the need for all students, staff and faculty to sign up for emergency notifications. Despite the issues encountered last night, this event underscores the importance of clear and open communication during a time of crisis. We want and need for each student, faculty and staff member to sign up for these alerts so that they have the best possible information to guide them when trouble arises. We are committed to streamlining and improving that process so that information is provided in a more focused and efficient manner going forward.

You can sign up for emergency notifications through MyNIU. Family members also can receive updates if you provide their mobile phone number(s) in MyNIU. Complete directions are available online.

Again, thanks for your cooperation last night. Have a good (and safe) weekend.


Doug Baker

Date posted: October 9, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Reflecting on last night

Categories: Latest News Safety Students

Northern Illinois University is pleased to announce a major gift from longtime donors Bob and Cathy Rothkopf. Because this gift will be endowed, it will provide a significant scholarship every year. “NIU is an important part of our lives” said Bob Rothkopf. “We want to ensure that hard-working business students have the support necessary to succeed in school and in life.”

The Robert and Catherine Rothkopf Leadership Scholarship will provide a minimum award of $3,000 per year for students majoring in management or business administration.


Bob and Kathy Rothkopf

In 1967, Bob received his bachelor’s degree in management and returned to get a master’s degree in 1973. He worked his way through college as a commuter student while also raising a family. Cathy received her associate of arts degree from Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Illinois University.

The Rothkopfs had distinguished and successful careers in business. Bob spent 45 years in the automotive and metalworking industries. He started in 1965 at Chrysler Corporation and held a variety of positions in manufacturing and sales, culminating as President of Elco Industries Industrial Products division, Camcar and Semblex Corporation, where he retired in 2010. Bob is also serving as an adjunct professor in the NIU College of Business.

Cathy spent 40 years in the finance and accounting industry, beginning her career at McGladrey & Pullen in Burlington, Iowa. Like Bob, she worked her way through college. Cathy spent the majority of her career with A.G. Edwards & Sons, now Wells Fargo Advisors as Vice President – Investment and is a certified financial planner (CFP) with several securities licenses.

“The NIU College of Business was a foundation for me. It was a place that provided me with the leadership skills I needed to start my career. The care I received during that time from other students, staff and faculty was especially important to me while I juggled family, school and work,says Bob Rothkopf.

Dean of the NIU College of Business, Denise Schoenbachler, said that this most recent gift builds on the Rothkopfs history of supporting NIU students.

“Bob and Cathy are two of the most committed alumni I have encountered in my nine years as Dean. From providing valuable advice, mentoring students, and teaching classes, they are always there for us.  I’m delighted that they are endowing their scholarship so that future generations of NIU students will be touched by the Rothkopfs’ legacy,” Schoenbachler said,.

Date posted: September 17, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Rothkopf gift to support management students

Categories: Alumni Business

Go Huskies!While enrollment at Northern Illinois University declined slightly this fall, the quality of students admitted improved as did retention rates for continuing students.

The university’s official 10-day count showed an enrollment of 20,130 students. That is a decline of about 2.3 percent, the smallest dip in enrollment since 2010.

“We are not where we want to be, but there are encouraging signs of progress,” NIU President Doug Baker said.

One of the most positive signs was continued improvement in retention of students.

The one-year retention rate for freshmen improved by one percentage point to 72 percent, which built upon last year’s leap of 5 percent in that category. In addition, the two-year retention rate for the fall 2013 freshmen class also increased by 5 percent, a substantial improvement over the fall 2011 and fall 2012 new freshmen numbers. Both the one-and two-year retention rates represent four-year highs.

“We have invested a lot of effort into improving every aspect of the student experience and it is paying off,” Baker said.

The university’s efforts to attract higher achieving students also paid dividends. All of the key quality indicators – class rank, grade point average and composite ACT score showed improvement. With that increase in high-achieving students came significant growth in the university’s honors program, where enrollment surged by nearly 100 students, an increase of 31 percent.

“All of those things are very positive signs,” Baker said. “It demonstrates that we are gaining traction in the marketplace. High-achieving students are recognizing that NIU provides a high quality academic experience. Those students are more likely to thrive in their studies, persist to graduation, and help us draw more high achievers. Success breeds success.”

Go Huskies!The university’s efforts to attract more international students also bore fruit.

The 321 undergraduate international students on campus this fall represents a 48 percent increase from two years ago (up 23.5 percent from last year) while the number of international graduate students has climbed by 43 percent over that period (up 11 percent from last year). As a result, the current international student enrollment of 1,211 represents an all-time high.

“Attracting more international students to campus is a point of emphasis,” Baker said. “Bringing students from around the world to our campus not only enhances our enrollment, it also creates a richer, more diverse learning environment. I look forward to this trend continuing for some time.”

Changes in demographics have reduced the number of high school students statewide, making competition to recruit college-bound much steeper. At the same time, tuition increases in Illinois have made out-of-state schools more attractive to some students. NIU has held the line on the total cost of attendance (tuition, room and board) flat for the last two years and intends to do so for the foreseeable future, Baker said.

He is hopeful the many steps taken by NIU will have a positive effect on enrollments.

“We have a new director of admissions, and over the past year, we have implanted an almost complete overhaul in the way that we market ourselves to students. We are doing a better job of making potential Huskies aware of the opportunities that await them here,” Baker said. “The better they get to know us, the more they will want to start their path to success at NIU.”

Per the 10-day count numbers, the total undergraduate enrollment for the university this semester is 15,027.(down 2.6 percent). The graduate enrollment is 4,850 (down 1 percent) and the law school enrollment is 253 (down 8.3 percent).

Date posted: September 9, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU releases 10-day enrollment count

Categories: Latest News

NIU President Doug Baker

NIU President Doug Baker

President Doug Baker and a team of Northern Illinois University’s senior leaders delivered an upbeat message during a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium.

Despite challenging times, they said, things are looking up.

“There are a lot of universities that would love to be in the position that we’re in,” Baker said. “I’m here to tell you that we’re going to get through this, and we’ll be bigger and better on the other side.”

The session touched upon issues ranging from budgeting, to increasing enrollment, to international agreements that will increase diversity on campus to program prioritization.

It also included an open question-and-answer session.

One audience member asked Baker, in light of the budget impasse in Springfield, how long the university will be able to meet its payroll. He responded that leadership is confident that NIU will make it through the academic year, even if the legislature fails to agree on a budget during that time – a circumstance that he considered highly unlikely.

When asked about the outlook for pay increases, Baker said that finding money to better compensate employees is a priority, but one that is dependent upon circumstances. “Last year, not furloughing anyone was a priority,” Baker said, noting that the university had to find ways to plug a $15 million hole in its budget picture, and did so without layoffs.

Going forward, he said, the chances of a pay increase hinge largely upon how much funding the university receives from the state, how much we enhance our enrollments and how well we control our expenses. There has been discussion of what shape such a plan might take, he said, and current thinking is that any increase would likely be weighted more heavily toward those on the lower end of the pay scale.

In addition to Baker, four members of the university’s leadership team provided updates on specific areas:

Al Phillips, Vice President of Administration and Finance

Al Phillips

Al Phillips

Phillips touched upon the difficult financial situation in which the university is functioning.

By now, he said, the university should have long since known what its appropriation would be and be developing, or even implementing, spending plans. Even so, he sounded a tone of guarded optimism.

“We are looking at this as a bridge year,” Phillips said. “We will get through this.”

Phillips outlined four areas of emphasis for his division going forward.

The first was to control spending. Currently, he said, the university spends about $110 million a year on goods and services. A 10 percent reduction in those costs, he said, would yield $10 million in savings that could be used for other purposes, such as paying salaries.

Increasing efficiencies by improving processes will be another point of emphasis. For example, Phillips said, his division is creating a new office to streamline the process of getting a contract approved – something that currently takes up to 74 separate steps.

“The goal is to find ways to save costs and resources while cutting down on the frustration as we work through our challenges,” he said.

Phillips also said his division is working to implement a five-year budget cycle so that departments can plan into the future, rather than year to year, while also looking for ways to increase university revenues that extend beyond tuition and fees.

Eric Weldy, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Eric Weldy and Dani Rollins

Eric Weldy and Dani Rollins

Weldy reviewed numerous changes within his division during the past two years, all designed to improve how well the university attracts and retains students.

In particular, he described the two-day orientation process implemented this summer for incoming students and their families.

“It gives us more time to show case our campus and its resources and it allowed students and their families to build closer connections to campus,” he said.

Moving forward, he said, the goal is to turn NIU’s enrollment management area into one of the best nation.

Dani Rollins, Director of Admissions

As the sixth director of admissions in the past six years, Rollins praised her staff, which has remained intact throughout those changes. Providing those individuals with training and support has been a key to helping her implement changes that she believes are starting to turn the tide of declining enrollment numbers for the last several years.

Among those initiatives have been efforts, working with the NIU Division of Marketing and Communications, to revitalize all of the print publications that her department shares with students. “We became over-reliant upon email and other electronic communications with potential students and their families. They still like to get a piece of paper in their hands, especially when it is first-generation college students,” Rollins said.

Lisa Freeman, Executive Vice President and Provost

Lisa Freeman

Lisa Freeman

Freeman updated the audience on the Program Prioritization process.

A lot of the groundwork for that process has been laid over the past year as various working groups and shared governance committees collaborated to develop evaluation criteria, process elements and task force membership, she said.

This fall, program experts will author narratives for all programs under review, which will then be handed over to the task forces in the spring.

Those groups will analyze programs using institutional data and submitted narratives in the context of the adopted criteria, and make recommendations regarding resource allocation to the reviewed programs. These recommendations will be used to inform the university’s budget process, as well as to inspire programs to pursue opportunities to enhance quality and increase efficiency.

“The feedback from this process will inform the budgeting process and allow us to align our resources with the things that really matter,” Freeman said.

Freeman said the Program Prioritization website is a key resource for information about the status of the effort, including information on the programs being evaluated, times and dates for training for those writing program narratives, and a source for answers to frequently asked questions.

Faculty and staff also can use the website to ask specific questions that might not be in the FAQs.

Date posted: September 3, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Town hall gives a glimpse of NIU’s future

Categories: Latest News

Wendy Bostwick

Wendy Bostwick

An NIU professor earned a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health to launch innovative research targeting issues affecting bisexual women’s health and well-being.

Wendy Bostwick, associate professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies (NUHS), Public Health and Health Education programs, was awarded the $371,538 grant to pursue her research into the health effects of micoraggressions on bisexual women.

Microaggressions are brief, commonplace exchanges, often unintentional, that can be demeaning or degrading to someone’s identity.

In her previous research, Bostwick learned something interesting that led her to pursue further study into microaggressions: Bisexual women did not report the high levels of discrimination often associated with health problems such as anxiety disorders and depression. However, they suffered from more physical and mental health issues than others in the LGBT population.

“Bisexual women experience a different kind of discrimination – a more subtle form that accumulates over time. It’s not one off-handed comment, it’s constantly hearing those messages not just from strangers, but from family, friends, partners, the media, the larger society,” Bostwick said.

These comments – microaggressions – aimed at bisexual women might include remarks that assume a woman is confused about her identity, statements that she should just “make up her mind,” or comments that assume all bisexual women are hypersexual or promiscuous.

For her study, Bostwick will work with 125 women from the greater Chicago area, with a specific focus on women of color who have been under-represented in this type of research. Study participants will fill out a survey each day for 28 days. Questions will include whether they experienced microaggressions that day, as well as questions about substance abuse, moods and other life factors.

NIH logo“This innovative study is well positioned to help us better understand the unique stressors that contribute to physical and mental health disparities among bisexual women,” said Tonda Hughes, professor and associate dean for Global Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of Bostwick’s collaborators on thus study.

The NIH recognizes the importance of Bostwick’s work as well. The NIH is among the most prestigious funders of health-related research in the world. The application process is hyper competitive with thousands of applicants. Bostwick’s project was one of a handful to receive funding.

Bostwick hopes her research will lead to better care outcomes for bisexual women.

“We can then provide information to therapists, doctors, social workers and substance abuse counselors on how to intervene to correct and prevent health disparities in the future,” Bostwick said.

Bostwick joined the NIU faculty in 2009.

She completed her master’s and Ph.D. in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and did post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Institute of Bisexuality, among others. Her research has been published in prominent internationally circulated journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Date posted: September 1, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mental health of bisexual women focus of NIU study

Categories: Campus Highlights Faculty & Staff Health and Human Sciences Humanities Research

Former NIU student Erik Curry (now in medical school at SIU) and Barrie Bode pipette samples from cancer cells for analysis.

Former NIU student Erik Curry (now in medical school at SIU) and Barrie Bode pipette samples from cancer cells for analysis.

Why have we not cured the diseases we call cancer after decades of intensive research? How much progress have we made? What is “precision” or “personalized” medicine, and how does it apply to the underpinnings of cancer biology?

These are some of the important questions that will be addressed by Barrie Bode at the next NIU STEM Café: “Combating Cancer in the 21st Century: Where are we in the Fight against Cancer?” The talk will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30 at Fireside Grille, 49 Sugar Ln, Sugar Grove, Ill.

Bode, chair of the NIU Department of Biological Sciences, has extensive experience with the complex nature of cancer biology and therapeutics because of his work researching cancer and teaching biochemistry, molecular biology and physiology. In 1993, he set up and ran the Surgical Oncology Research Laboratories at Harvard Medical School.

Since 1997, his research on the nutrient transporters in driving the growth of cancers has been funded by the National Cancer Institute.

“I would like to convey the complexity of the collection of diseases termed ‘cancer’ to the public,” Bode says. “People may be surprised to learn that cancer is not a single disease, and that the historical concept of ‘curing’ all cancers is yielding instead to a management mindset by clinicians and cancer biologists.”

An image of human liver cancer cells from Bode’s laboratory.

An image of human liver cancer cells from Bode’s laboratory.

Another key issue Bode will address is funding for cancer research.

“Federal funding has not kept pace given the budget challenges we face. The national cancer research budget is 1 percent of the national defense budget. We really need an honest conversation as a nation about how we will support progress in this area moving forward.”

Guests are invited to join in the discussion and bring questions for Bode.

NIU’s monthly STEM Cafés are one of many programs offered through NIU STEM Outreach, part of the award-winning NIU Center for P-20 Engagement. In addition to STEM Outreach programs and events, the P-20 Center has developed the STEM Read, Economic Education and [email protected] programs, which aim to engage the community in lifelong learning.

STEM Cafés are free and open to the public. Food and drinks are available for purchase from Fireside Grille. For more information, call (815) 753-4751 or email [email protected].

Date posted: June 24, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on STEM Café add science to your summer: Combating Cancer in the 21st Century

Categories: Communiversity Latest News


Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita is suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, which has robbed him of his memory. NIU researcher Matt Wilson is studying whether Mikita’s career might have helped cause it.

One of the few sad sidebars to the Chicago Blackhawks’ run to the 2015 Stanley Cup has been that former Hawks great Stan Mikita has been completely unaware of the excitement.

Mikita has been diagnosed with a condition known as Lewy Body Dementia, a brain condition that has robbed him of virtually every memory of his playing career – and of every other aspect of his life.

Doctors are unsure if the thousands of brain-rattling hits he took during his career contributed to the condition, but NIU researcher Matt Wilson hopes to someday help answer that question.

Wilson, a hearing scientist in the NIU Department of Audiology, is one of the few researchers in the nation studying the cumulative effect of violent collisions on the brains of athletes.

Far from being an advocate for eliminating sports such as football or hockey, he says his goal is to protect the players and make the sports safer.

“I am the biggest football fan that there is,” says Wilson, 30, of Genoa, who grew up near Pittsburgh rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers. “My goal is to make the sport safer and to help preserve it.”

Toward that end, he has teamed with a neuropsychologist to hold clinics for coaches, parents and athletes at DeKalb County high schools to educate them on how to recognize and treat concussions, and the importance of conservative, complete treatment.

“Parents, coaches, players all need to better understand what a concussion is and how to deal with it. Dealing with it wrong can have long term consequences. However, if you treat it right the first time, your chances of getting back out on the field are much better,” Wilson says.

He is also recruiting athletes from those sports (and others) to participate in his research, which strives to gauge the long-term effects of repeated jarring impacts to the head, whether they cause concussions or not.

He hopes that insights gained through his work will improve treatment of the injury, as well as illuminate why some people seem particularly vulnerable to concussions while others seem to seem almost immune. He also hopes it will help establish whether there are any links to diseases like Lewy Body Dementia.

Photo of a brainPotential research subjects should be:

  • Athletes between the ages of 14 and 35.
  • Half of the subjects selected will be athletes who play a contact sport (football, rugby, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, etc.)
  • The remaining half will be athletes who play non-contact sports (baseball, softball, tennis, track, golf, etc.) and who have never been diagnosed with concussions.
  • All subjects should be competing in their sport during the time of the study.

Participants will be asked to provide a brief medical history, with an emphasis on any past concussion diagnosis.

Afterward, they will perform a series of computer-based tests that measure visual and verbal working memory, reaction times and the ability to pay attention. Each also will be given an EEG brain scan and a hearing test. Testing will be conducted at the NIU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic in DeKalb, Ill., with each subject undergoing testing three times – once prior to their athletic season, once during and once after.

Testing is conducted at no cost to participants. In fact, participants will be reimbursed for mileage and receive a stipend. Each session will last two to two-and-a-half hours.

All data gathered is considered private and is not shared with coaches or others.

Also, Wilson does not diagnose any potential injuries or prescribe treatment.

“It’s not my place to tell people whether or not they should continue playing,” he says “I will, however, educate parents and athletes. If they wish. I can help them become better at recognizing when a concussion may have occurred, and share information on how best to deal with it. But I am not in a position to be making decisions or recommendations. I am a scientist, not a medical doctor.”

Wilson is available to speak about concussions to groups of athletes, coaches and parents. He can be reached at (815) 753-7366 or via email at [email protected].

Date posted: June 17, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU researcher seeks athletes for concussion research

Categories: Communiversity Digital Signage Faculty & Staff Health and Human Sciences Research


NIU President Doug Baker and McHenry County College President Vicky Smith celebrate a new transfer program that will allow qualified MCC graduates to earn bachelor’s degrees in business administration
by taking night classes at NIU-Hoffman Estates.

Northern Illinois University and five northwest suburban community colleges have teamed up to offer a new path for students seeking degrees in business administration.

The agreement was unveiled Friday at NIU-Hoffman Estates with representatives from NIU, Elgin Community College, William Rainey Harper College, College of Lake County, McHenry County College and Oakton Community College on hand to sign and celebrate.

The program is designed primarily to meet the needs of non-traditional students who are unable to attend classes during the day because of work or family commitments. It marks the first time that the NIU College of Business has offered students the opportunity to complete all upper-level degree coursework offsite and at night.

“This makes an NIU business degree attainable for individuals who otherwise could not pursue one simply because we didn’t offer classes at a time or place that fit their schedule,” said Lori Marcellus, director of undergraduate studies for the College of Business. “

The program arose out of a conversation between NIU President Doug Baker and presidents from the consortium of community colleges. Many students were in need, they said, of high-quality, affordable business degrees to help them land jobs or advance in their careers – but they could not commit to a standard college schedule.

Recognizing the broad benefits of such a program, Baker worked with the NIU College of Business to set things in motion.

“An educated workforce is critical to growing our region’s competitiveness,” Baker said. “Expanding baccalaureate completion opportunities, improving transitions and providing students with incentives for degree-completion through compacts such as this help move our state toward these goals.”

The location and time-frame of the classes are the only two things that distinguish the program from the experience of a traditional transfer student who attends two years of classes at a community college and then enrolls at the university’s flagship campus in DeKalb, Marcellus said. In either instance, she said, students must complete the same set of coursework, meet the same standards for entrance into the college and receive all upper-level instruction from NIU faculty.


NIU President Doug Baker watches Elgin Community College President David Sam sign
the agreement. Five community colleges were included.

Details are still being worked out, but the Hoffman Estates program likely will be designed along the lines of an MBA program. Cohorts of students will progress together through a tightly defined curriculum. Semesters will be condensed, and classes offered year-round, so that students can complete their upper-division work in as little as two years, attending classes nights and perhaps weekends.

The program could start as early as this fall, but will require a minimum enrollment of 20 students.

It might take a semester to raise awareness and get students into the pipeline, Marcellus said.

Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the NIU College of Business, is excited to get the program up and running.

“We are very excited at the opportunity to provide this opportunity,” Schoenbachler said, noting that the program will be much less expensive than similar offerings from private or for-profit programs. “This is a great opportunity to make a difference in our region and improve opportunities available to people who live here.”

The community college presidents at Friday’s event were similarly excited at what the program will mean to their students.

“Whenever we can forge a partnership that removes barriers for our students and facilitates their pathway to completion, we can and should celebrate,” said Oakton Community College President Margaret B. Lee. “I am grateful to my colleagues at Oakton and in our partner institutions who worked on all of the details that brought us to this day and this agreement.”


Date posted: June 15, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on NIU teams with community colleges to streamline business transfer process

Categories: Business Campus Highlights Communiversity Degree Completion Programs Engagement Faculty & Staff NIU Hoffman Estates

Vector golden figure 1

Graduates of NIU’s graduate program in accountancy had the top pass rate in the state on the CPA exam in 2014.

Students who graduated from NIU with master’s degrees in accountancy this spring have a tough act to follow.

Recently released data from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy show that their predecessors in the class of 2014 posted the highest CPA exam pass rate for any graduate-level program in the state.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the 125 students who earned master’s degrees in accountancy from NIU last year passed all four sections of that certification exam on their first try.

“That is an amazing accomplishment for those students, as well as a testament to the quality of our faculty and the program that they have developed,” says Jim Young, chair of the Department of Accountancy in the NIU College of Business.

Those earning bachelor’s degrees in accountancy from NIU also fared well last year, with 54 percent of them passing all four facets of the exam. Together, the combined performance of graduates from the two programs earned NIU the second best overall pass rate in the state, trailing only the University of Illinois.

The overall pass rate on the exam nationally, for all first-time takers, was 49 percent.

In retrospect, says Young, there was no hint that NIU’s master’s class of 2014 would perform so well on the exam. “We always attract a strong class, comprised of graduates from our own program and many of the other top programs across the country. This group fell right in line with that.”

Furthermore, he says, there was no new emphasis on preparing for the exam last year.

The 30-hour, one-year program followed a similar format that for the last two decades has earned it a spot in the top 10 to 20 graduate programs in the country, according to the Public Accounting Report’s annual survey of accountancy educators. Last year, Tax Talent ranked NIU’s graduate program ninth in the nation and its undergraduate program 11th.

Business concept: CPA on digital background“It’s not as if we ‘teach to the test,’ ” Young says. “We focus on critical thinking, communication and leadership in addition to accounting and business knowledge. The exam is the first career milestone for any CPA, but our goal is to prepare them for their career, not just the test.”

The program excels on both fronts.

While the 2014 results are difficult to beat, graduates of the program have a long history of outstanding performance on the exam.

Furthermore, NIU students graduating with master’s degrees in accountancy typically have multiple job offers. Many are recruited by the “Big Four” international accounting firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG), with the rest typically finding positions at other prestigious international and national firms, including BDO, Grant Thornton, Crowe Horwath and McGladrey.

“The performance of our graduate students last year is amazing, but the best endorsement of the program is the fact that the best firms in the world compete to hire our graduates,” says Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the NIU College of Business. “That is a testament to the quality of the education our students receive, and the faculty who provide it.”

Date posted: May 22, 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Accountancy grads rank atop state on CPA exam

Categories: Business Latest News