Since 1987, Nancy Schuneman has served as the Office Manager of the Northern Illinois University Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), which has grown to become one of the major programs of its kind in the U.S. and internationally.
Over the years, she has welcomed, guided, and served five directors of that center and countless other faculty associates from various departments within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as from other Colleges and units at NIU.
Throughout Her position requires detailed knowledge of the programs that the CSEAS coordinates, including four major federally funded grants currently totaling about $1.5 million and 25 fellowships and assistantships. It also requires excellent interpersonal skills, given the diversity of associates and students involved in the programs. Nancy has excelled on all counts.
Officials in Washington, D.C. who supervise the grants know Nancy on a first-name basis because of the many calls she makes for information, exceptions, and extensions concerning the grants she administers. She is the voice of NIU in many federal offices, including the U.S. Department of Education. Officials trust her knowledge and professionalism, and her personal reputation has greatly contributed to NIU’s recognition as a consistently reliable national resource center.
A quality that stands out most for colleagues who have worked with Nancy is her sense of humor and penchant for reducing tensions and worries. One choice quote, which explains why she is valuable, and why so many admire and appreciate her, is her motto of “maintaining diplomacy in the face of university red tape.”
Her work ethic, according to those who know her, is also extraordinary. She performs far above and beyond the call of duty, often monitoring e-mails from home on weekends. In her own humorous words, which can be read on the SEA Center’s information page, she says, “My current research involves how to cram 24 hours worth of work into a 7.5-hour work day.” Colleagues assert that Nancy has become the “heart, soul and institutional memory of the Center.”