Todd Gilson, Ph.D.
Director for University Honors
As the director of the University Honors program it is my job develop and facilitate a unique college experience that fosters both the sense of a tight knit community and provides benefits afforded by a large-scale research university. Furthermore, not only do I preach this doctrine, I model it to students in my sport psychology and sport sociology seminar classes by a being knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging professor, while also directing student research that has led to national presentations and peer-reviewed publications.
My current research focuses on the link between key psychological constructs that help distinguish highly successful leaders and performers from less successful ones. To best answer this question, I have worked with dozens of NCAA athletic institutions and U.S. Army ROTC programs around the country. The lessons acquired about confidence, resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges are woven into interactions I have with students in the University Honors program.
I earned my doctorate in kinesiology from Michigan State University; a master’s degree in human performance from Oregon State University; and bachelor’s degree in sport management from Ohio Northern University. Come stop by Campus Life Building 110 to learn more about how the University Honors Program can help you succeed!
Jes Cisneros, Ed.D.
As Assistant Director of the University Honors Program, I am responsible for all aspects of advising students through our program’s curricular and co-curricular experiences. Most of my direct advising role focuses on working closely with junior/senior level students as they enter the second half of the program and prepare for their senior Honors Capstone Projects.
I love to teach, and occasionally offer an Honors section of EPFE 201 (Education as an agent for change) or EPFE 321 (History of American Education) in the Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations of Education. I’ve taught sessions to visiting students from Argentina (in Spanish!) and to students from China. I’ve also taught the ILAS 399 Honors Seminar ‘Technology & Society.’ I also serve as the faculty advisor to the NIU Veteran’s Association, and the Honors Student Association.
Prior to starting my college education, I served in the U.S. Marine Corps. After earning my AA degree at Modesto Junior College, I transferred to the University of California at Santa Cruz, where I earned my B.A. in history. I came out to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to earn my M.A., and finally, an M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. in Educational Technology, Research and Assessment from Northern Illinois University. "Educational technology" aside, I very much consider myself a historian who happens to focus on education, technology, schools and the process of schooling in America. As such, I have presented at and been involved with the American Educational Research Association and History of Education Society. My work has been published in both educational technology as well as history of education journals.
I always look forward to facilitating the best possible educational outcomes for our students and to keeping in touch once they are University Honors Alumni! Stop on by for advising or just to chat. I’m always happy to see you!
Jason Goode, M.A.
Associate Director of Scholarships, Programming and Assessment
In November 2012, I joined the University Honors Administrative team as the Assistant to the Associate Vice Provost. I am a high-level management support professional who develops, recommends and implements appropriate goals, policies, procedures, assessment and long-term planning related to national scholarships, fellowships and academic awards and recognitions for the University Honors Program’s academically motivated student body. In addition to these duties, I serve as the University Honors Program’s liaison to the Office of Scholarships, the Office of Financial Aid and the diverse array of honor societies at Northern Illinois University (NIU).
Prior to joining University Honors, I worked in NIU’s Office of Student Academic Success as a Student Success Specialist (SSS). I was responsible for working with students who were in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This position was new to the campus and I helped brand the identity of the SSS through piloting a version of the Absence Tracking Program with an emphasis on English 103, English 104, and Communication 100. I also launched Soup & Success, now known as edible education, a program that provides students with lunch as they engage in sessions related to time management, reading strategies, public speaking, financial aid, scholarships and test anxiety. As part of the team, I helped advance the development and piloting of a new advising tool created for NIU by the Educational Advisory Board. I have also co-hosted brown bag discussions and training sessions related to Mapworks.
I am a proud NIU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a focus on media production and a master’s degree in communication focusing on media studies. In addition to my full-time work with the University Honors program, I am also working to earn a doctorate in adult and higher education with a focus on higher education and student affairs.
I joined the University Honors Program in the summer of 2013. It did not take me long to realize that in my first position, as Office Support Associate, how much I love interacting with our students. Specifically, watching students progress through the program and sharing in their achievements is a truly rewarding experience. After holding that position for almost 3 years, I was promoted to Office Manager. In my current position, I am responsible for managing the office fiscal planning and monitoring the day-to-day operations of the office. I also coordinate some of our annual events, such as the welcome back BBQ, Honors Day and our Freshman Taft Retreat.
As a student, know that my door is always open. Feel free to stop in and ask questions or just say “hi” at anytime.
Assistant Director of Programming and Communication
As the Assistant Director of Programming and Communication, I work to organize co-curricular and extra-curricular programming (which includes social, academic, service and professional development activities) Honors students can take advantage of during their time at NIU. These events provide students in the Honors program the opportunity to broaden their horizons, share experiences with others, and become more involved. I also oversee communication of the program and work to aggressively promote Honors to internal and external constituents.
I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Hospitality Administration and minor in Dance Performance. Currently, I am pursing my Masters in Education in Kinesiology and Physical Education Department and hope to teach dance in a High School setting in the future. Along with working for the University Honors Program, I teach, choreograph and perform for dance studios and musical theatre productions in DeKalb and Sycamore.
David Ballantine, Ph.D.
Faculty Advisor to the Honors House
David S. Ballantine, Jr., received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1977 from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1983 from the University of Maryland at College Park. After several years as a researcher at the Naval Research Labs in Washington D.C., Ballantine joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Illinois University in 1989. He was awarded NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1998 and served as faculty advisor to the NIU Chemistry Club, an ACS Student Affiliate program, from 1998 through 2010. Ballantine has served as the coordinator for his department’s introductory and general chemistry program and has supervised the laboratory teaching assistants since 1998. Presently, he serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, a position that he has held since 2010.
Madelyn Anderson, M.A.
Faculty Advisor to the Honors House
Madelyn Kerback Anderson is an Instructor in the Department of Communication and has been teaching at NIU since 1992. A native of Wyoming, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Augustana College, Rock Island, and was graduated with distinction from NIU with a Master of Arts in Communication and a graduate emphasis in Women’s Studies. In the Honors program, she teaches a public speaking course with an emphasis in service learning. She has been Coordinator of the COMS 100 program, pre-COMS advisor, and Coordinator of the COMS 100 Speech Contest. In 2015 she was awarded the “Really Great Professor” Award by the NIU Honors program.
Prior to NIU, she acquired an extensive background in arts administration. She worked for a Boston-based performing artist agency, as a graphic artist for newspapers in the west and midwest, and was a contributing writer to the Augustana Alumni Magazine. She was the Director of Audience Development at Augustana’s public radio station before being named the Director of Cultural Events for the College. During this time, she received statewide recognition from the Illinois Arts Council for being the top presenters’ grant recipient. She was appointed to the IAC’s Presenters’ Development Panel and conducted on-site evaluations of performing arts venues throughout Illinois. While at NIU, she has provided long-time volunteer support for local organizations including the Sycamore Music Boosters for whom she developed the “SHS Music Hall of Fame” program.
Faculty Advisor to The Luminary
Liz Denius is the Communications Manager for the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and has worked at NIU since 2006. After receiving a B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois, she began her career as a night police reporter/obituary writer for The State Journal-Register in Springfield, eventually becoming the editor of the weekend magazine. She later edited Student Lawyer magazine for the American Bar Association in Chicago before moving to San Diego to work as an editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Sunday Homes section. Returning to Illinois in 1995, she worked as a copy editor for the Naperville Sun and as a freelance editor for clients including Microsoft, Copley News Service and Reader’s Digest. She was appointed Communications Manager in 2011. In that capacity, she writes and edits a weekly e-bulletin and annual newsletter, manages the Center’s website and social media, contributes stories to NIU Today and manages press inquiries among other duties. In 2013, she coordinated a year of lectures, films, exhibits and cultural events celebrating the Center’s 50th anniversary. She lives in Sycamore with her husband Mike and their three dogs, Tippy, Molly and Lottie. Her daughter Katie is a Biology major in the Honors program.