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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
March 1, 2005
DeKalb — Four members of the Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) at Northern Illinois University have been chosen to receive the university’s Presidential Awards for Excellence.
The recipients are Joanne Dempsey, president and executive director of the Illinois Council on Economic Education; J. Daniel House, director of the Office of Institutional Research; Lori Marcellus, director of undergraduate studies in the College of Business; and Judy Skorek, assistant director of the Women’s Resource Center.
They will be honored at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, in the Clara Sperling Sky Room in the Holmes Student Center. The awards ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m. Each will receive a plaque and $1,500 in appreciation for their outstanding contributions to NIU.
Refreshments will be served, and the reception is open to all.
Additionally, the Gary Gray Award will be presented to Deborah Haliczer, director of employee relations in Human Resource Services. The award, based on service to the SPS Council, honors the late Gary Gray, a past member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences advising staff and the SPS Council.
Bosses who enjoy the hearty support of their employees are doing something right: Witness the signatures of all seven of Joanne Dempsey’s Illinois Council of Economic Education staff on one of her nomination letters.
“Joanne thinks people first,” the letter states. “She has created an open environment in our office where staff is encouraged to be creative, take on new challenges and participate in staff development opportunities. Joanne always has her door open.”
“Whether it is a student employee who needs personal encouragement, financial support or a listening ear, or a civil service or SPS employee needing the same,” echoes John Lewis, associate vice president for NIU Outreach, “Joanne is always there.”
Dempsey, who became director of the council in 1995, earlier served as associate director of the Center for Economic Education at Bradley University and assistant director of Southern Illinois University’s center.
She has full responsibility for programmatic, financial and administrative work of ICEE, including board development, fund raising and oversight of affiliated centers. In 2003, contributions surpassed $1 million.
Her work also established reserves to maintain ICEE during lean times, earned a $420,000-per-year Illinois Board of Higher Education grant to create the Illinois Global Economics & Finance High School and launched a statewide economic poster competition in elementary schools.
J. Daniel House
NIU counts on Dan House – literally.
As director of the Office of Institutional Research since 1994, House directs research studies and offical reporting of university data to the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the preparation of reports for the university on topics such as enrollment, student characteristics and achievement, and retention/graduation.
His knowledge of underrepresented student populations, including Latinos, Native Americans and students with disabilities, has prompted enhanced programs and services for such groups. In the late 1990s, House’s descriptions to NIU administrators of the growing Asian-American population on campus triggered activities that culminated in the establishment of the Asian American Center.
“Dan’s work impacts nearly every corner of the university and beyond,” says Denise L. Rode, director of Orientation. “Just in our unit alone, Dan’s services are invaluable. He helps us project and interpret trends.”
House, who came to NIU in 1987, also is a prolific author and conference presenter, an active member of the SPS council, a teacher of graduate courses and a frequent guest lecturer.
“The fact that Dan recognizes and embraces such opportunities for continuing professional development,” says Sally A. Wakefield, assistant to the dean of the College of Business, “assures that NIU will maintain a competitive advantage in the area of institutional research.”
Lori Marcellus understands the true business of the College of Business: helping students learn and succeed.
Marcellus, director of undergraduate studies in business, earns praise for navigating students through “the maze of complex requirements.” Her work spans the coordination of high school open houses for the college through commencement ceremonies.
“She and her staff somehow manage to take highly diverse native and transfer student populations, evaluate their progress to date and their unique capabilities and interests, and design programs of study to prepare them for the successful completion of their academic careers,” says William J. Tallon, associate dean.
Marcellus, who began her NIU career in 1982 in Registration and Records, assumed her current job in 1993. She is highly regarded by advisers who serve NIU’s partner community colleges, and was instrumental in developing the BSBA program in Rockford.
Her revision of a policy that prevented students from declaring a specific business major before their junior year has strengthened the college, says academic adviser Rowene Linden, assistant to the chair of Accountancy.
“Some students did not matriculate to NIU because other Illinois schools were accepting students to a specific major program as freshmen,” Linden says. “The university and college became more competitive … (and) not only have enrollments increased, but NIU is attaining better students.”
Judy Skorek is known for working far beyond the 4:30 p.m. mark – and colleagues of the assistant director of the Women’s Resource Center know where she finds the time.
“Judy is the epitome of a staff member who thinks of customer service first and foremost,” says Margie Cook, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center. “She responds to people’s needs without thought to her own personal convenience.”
“As a rule, Judy meets with those who request her service over the noon hour, after work and on weekends,” adds Michelle Bringas, director of the Asian American Center. “Judy’s first concern is for the people she serves.”
Skorek, who came to NIU in 1979, contributed to drafting university policy concerning sexual harassment and sexual assault, is helping to craft polices and prevention concerning alcohol abuse by students, has assumed responsibility for developing assessment policy for her office and is the “star performer” in its career advisement and consultation.
The adjunct faculty member in the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education is pursuing a doctorate in counseling – an area her boss, Sharon Howard, calls a perfect fit.
“She has mediated more workplace disputes, and coached more women caught up in them, than I can remember – a service often requiring considerable courage.”
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