History of the College

NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Milestones

1959

  • Reorganization of Division of Instruction creates university’s first three colleges: the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). CLAS includes the following departments: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, English, Foreign Languages, History, Journalism, Library Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, Social Sciences and Speech.
  • M.A. degrees approved in English, Social Science, History and Speech
  • M.S. degrees approved in Earth Science, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, mathematics, Physics

1960

  • Alexander Popov appointed the first dean of CLAS

1961

  • The Department of Social Sciences is replaced by the Departments of History, Economics, Political Science, Anthropology and Sociology, Journalism (previously a part of English), Psychology (previously a part of Education) and Philosophy.
  • NIU becomes a Peace Corps training site for Southeast Asia

1962

  • Ph.D degrees in English and History approved
  • Public Administration program established
  • Watson Hall built 
  • Center for Southeast Asian Studies approved

1963

  • John Skok appointed dean of CLAS
  • M. A. degree in Philosophy approved

1965

  • Richard C. Bowers appointed dean of CLAS
  • University Press created; first book published is Lucien Stryk’s

1966

  • Ph.D. degree in Chemistry approved
  • Ph.D. degree in Psychology approved

1968

  • Ph.D. degree in Economics approved
  • Ph.D. degree in Political Science approved

1968

  • Reavis Hall built
  • Zulauf Hall built (originally named Reavis-Watson East); College offices move in
  • Cole Hall built (originally named Reavis-Watson Lecture Hall)

1969

  • Theatre arts moves from speech department to College of Visual and Performance Arts
  • Montgomery Hall built
  • M.S. degree in Anthropology approved
  • M.A. degree in Journalism approved
  • M.A. degree in Sociology approved

1970

  • Paul S.  Burtness appointed dean of CLAS
  • University enrollment is nearly 23,000; CLAS has 17 departments and centers
  • Spring brings protests movements to campus, anti-war, anti-racism demonstrations.

1973

  • Psychology–Mathematics Building built (later renamed Psychology-Computer Science Building)

1974

  • Communication Disorders moves from speech department to College of Professional Studies

1975

  • Major budget cuts to college result in faculty terminations
  • Students form Committee for Quality Education to support CLAS in budget battle

1976

  • College institutes a Bachelor of General Studies degree

1979

  • James Norris appointed dean of CLAS

1980

  • College forms Office for Social Science Research, located at Rice Hotel in DeKalb (renamed the Social Science Research Institute in 1982)
  • Women’s Studies minor approved

1981

  • Women’s Studies Program offers first courses

1985 

  • Plant Molecular Biology Center established

1986

  • Center for Latino and Latin American created and housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

1989

  • Graduate Studies certificate in Women’s Studies approved; Program offices move to Reavis Hall

1993

  • College adjusts workloads and numbers of classes offered in response to budget limitations and the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s “Priorities, Quality, and Productivity” initiative

1994

  • Multi-Cultural Curriculum Transformation Institute for faculty organized by the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, the Center for Black Studies, and the Women’s Studies Program

1995

  • Frederick L. Kitterle appointed dean of CLAS
  • Commemoration of university’s centennial

1996

  • Women’s Studies Program initiates annual conference for young women

1997 

  • Center for Southeast Asian Studies becomes one of nine federally-funded National Resource Centers for study of the region

1998 

  • Latino Studies Building constructed to house Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and the Latino Resources Center

2000

  • Davis Hall Observatory upgraded

2005

  • Joseph E. Grush appointed acting dean of CLAS
  • Graduate concentration in Latin American Studies approved

2006

  • Christopher K. McCord appointed dean of CLAS

2009

  • CLAS is largest of NIU’s colleges, comprised of 17 departments, two divisions, and ten research and interdisciplinary centers spanning humanities, mathematical and natural sciences, and social sciences. All 17 departments offer undergraduate and master’s degrees and 11 offer doctoral degrees.

Deans of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Alexander I. Popov
Alexander I.  Popov

1960-1962    

John Skok
John Skok
1963-1964   

Richard C. Bowers
Richard C. Bowers
1965- 1969  

Paul S. Burtness
Paul S.  Burtness

1970-1979  

James D. Norris
James D. Norris
1979 -1995 

Frederick L. Kitterle
Frederick L.  Kitterle
1995-2005 

Joseph E. Grush
Joseph E. Grush
2005-2006  

Christopher K. McCord
Christopher K. McCord
2006- present