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March 24, 2011

NIU will award honorary degrees this spring to Argonne National Laboratory Director Eric D. Isaacs, Farm Credit Administration CEO Leland A. Strom

Eric D. Isaacs
Eric D. Isaacs

Leland A. Strom
Leland A. Strom

DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University will confer honorary doctoral degrees this spring to Eric D. Isaacs, director of Argonne National Laboratory, and Leland A. Strom, chairman of the board and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration.

Members of the NIU Board of Trustees voted today to award the honorary degrees to Isaacs and Strom during the spring Graduate School commencement ceremony, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, in the NIU Convocation Center.

“Dr. Isaacs and Mr. Strom are outstanding public servants and distinguished residents of Illinois who have made great contributions to their respective fields of science and agriculture,” NIU President John G. Peters said. “It is only fitting that NIU pay tribute to their careers in this exceptional way.”

“Northern Illinois University awards a select number of honorary degrees to recognize the accomplishments of individuals who have excelled in fields of endeavor valued by the university and made significant contributions to society,” said Lisa C. Freeman, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at NIU.

“Both Dr. Isaacs and Mr. Strom are dedicated to solving complex societal problems,” Freeman added. “NIU is privileged to honor Dr. Isaacs for his dedication to solving the grand scientific and engineering challenges related to energy technologies, and Mr. Strom for his commitment to sustaining agricultural systems and food security.”

Before becoming Argonne director in May of 2009, Isaacs served as deputy laboratory director for programs, with responsibility for leading the laboratory’s strategic planning process and overseeing the laboratory-directed research and development program as well as its educational programs.

Earlier, he distinguished himself as director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne and as professor of physics in the University of Chicago’s James Franck Institute.

During his 13-year tenure at Bell Laboratories, he was a member of the technical staff, director of the Materials Physics Research Department and director of the Semiconductor Physics Department.

He earned a Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988 in the area of magnetic semiconductors.

Isaacs is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the author or co-author of more than 140 scientific papers and presentations.

“Dr. Isaacs is internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of experimental condensed matter physics, and he has been a strong supporter of undergraduate, graduate and faculty physics programs at NIU,” Freeman said.

Strom, active in the agriculture industry for more than 30 years, was appointed to a six-year term on the FCA board by President George W. Bush in 2006. He was designated chairman and CEO in May of 2008.

He also is a member of the board of directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation, responsible for ensuring the timely payment of principal and interest on obligations issued on behalf of FCS banks.

From 2000 to 2006, he served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Advisory Council on Agriculture, Labor, and Small Business, and in the early 1980s with Northern F.S., Inc., a farm service and supply cooperative serving farmers in northern Illinois.

Strom has also held leadership roles with the Illinois Farm Bureau and Kane County Farm Bureau.

The third-generation owner of a family farm that produces corn and soybeans in Kane County, Strom studied business administration at NIU and agriculture business at Kishwaukee College.

“Mr. Strom currently has national and international responsibility for protecting and managing the assets of our agricultural industry. His work has also included consulting worldwide with developing nations in the process of establishing secure food and agriculture systems,” Freeman said. “However, he remains connected to Illinois and his family farm in Elgin.”

In receiving honorary degrees from NIU, Isaacs and Strom join distinguished company.

The list includes former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert; former Argonne directors Robert Rosner and Hermann Grunder; author and physician Abraham Verghese; historian Arthur Schlesinger; U.S. Sen. Paul Simon; poet Gwendolyn Brooks; astronomer Carl Sagan; and Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Media Contact: Joseph King, NIU Media Relations & Internal Communications
Phone: 815-753-4299
Email: joking@niu.edu