navigation content contact

Northern Illinois University
CalendarPhone BookCampus MapsN I U SearchA  to Z IndexN I U Home
Northern Today

May 7, 2007, Northern Today Abridged

From beneath Antarctica’s Ross Sea, scientists retrieve
pristine record of continent’s climate cycles

NIU scientists participating in an unprecedented geologic drilling project in the Antarctic – its aim to ultimately shed light on global warming trends – say the first of two drilling seasons was hugely successful.

NIU’s Ross Powell, a professor of geology, is co-chief scientist of the Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) Program, which concluded its first field season in January. Geologist Reed Scherer also is among the 150 scientists participating in the international effort.

Long cores of sedimentary rocks recovered by ANDRILL from below the bed of the Ross Sea beneath the Ross Ice Shelf allow researchers to peer deeply into the past to a time when Antarctica was a warmer, more inviting place.

Frequent climate fluctuations in Antarctica have been so extreme over the past 5 million years that the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating slab of ice the size of France, oscillated in size dramatically, and perhaps even disappeared for periods of time when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may have been smaller, according to ANDRILL scientists.

Studies of the cores could provide scientists with glimpses into the planet’s future if predictions of global temperature increases are accurate. Either way, researchers say, data from the cores will help create more accurate climate models for predicting future trends.

“We recovered a superb, unique geologic record that scientists will be using as a benchmark for decades to come as we wrestle with trying to predict how global warming will impact the world’s oceans and our lives,” Powell said.

Powell and Tim Naish, of New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington, served as co-chief scientists for the first season of the $30-million ANDRILL Program. A second drilling operation will begin at another location next fall (during the Antarctic spring).

Filled with an abundance of information about Antarctica’s ice sheet and climate history, the newly recovered rock core stretches more than a kilometer (three-quarters of a mile) in length. It tells the story of episodic changes of the Ross Ice Shelf and the ice sheets feeding it, with more than 50 oscillations in the ice margin over the last 10 million years.

Some intervals when the ice shelf disappeared were probably during past times when our planet was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it is today – “much like it is predicted to be in the next 50 to 100 years by many climate models,” Naish said.

“If we’re going through this 2- to 3-degree (Celsius) warming in the next century, as has been predicted, we want to get a sense of how the ice sheet will react – and how fast it will react – by looking at what it has done in the past,” Powell added. “The world was only about 5 to 6 degrees warmer (Celsius) on average when there was no ice on the Antarctic at all. A couple degrees change can lead to quite dramatic changes across the world.”

The National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, is providing about $20 million in support of the project, which is a focal point during International Polar Year (IPY), a worldwide campaign of polar education, field research and analyses.

“ANDRILL is one of the crown jewels of our International Polar Year portfolio,” said Thomas Wagner, program director for the U.S. Antarctic Program’s geology and geophysics program. “It embodies the spirit of IPY with its international partnerships and scientific focus on the role of Antarctica in the global system of climate.”

At a site on the Ross Ice Shelf, ANDRILL operators melted an access hole through 85 meters (278 feet) of ice and dropped the drill bit through another 840 meters (2,755 feet) of seawater, before coring 1,285 meters (eight-tenths of a mile) below the seabed on the continental shelf.

The core will reveal information about water temperatures and ice-sheet and ice-shelf dynamics over about the past 10 million years.

A massive ice sheet covers Antarctica today, while ice shelves, fed by fast-flowing streams of ice within the ice sheet, are large floating bodies of ice. Ice shelves are extremely sensitive early indicators of climate change. The Ross Ice Shelf is the world’s largest ice shelf and is prone to increased melting from warming oceans. Scientists believe its demise would be an important precursor to eventual collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

About 90 percent of the world’s ice volume is in the Antarctic. The disappearance of even its smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet could raise worldwide sea levels by an estimated six meters (20 feet).

“By studying the core, our scientists can tell when ice was grounded and sitting directly on the seabed, when the Ross Ice Shelf was fully over the site and floating in the water, when there was open water with icebergs, and when there were no icebergs,” Powell said.

The greatest detail in the core covers a period from 1 million to 5 million years ago.

“By integrating this critical new climate information from the core into ice sheet computer models, we should be able to say just how extensive was the loss of ice in West Antarctica during warmer times in the past,” Naish added.

NIU’s Reed Scherer is a micropaleontologist who specializes in the study of fossil diatoms – microscopic single-celled algae that live in surface or shallow waters, evolve rapidly and are eventually deposited on the ocean floor. The variety of diatoms, which leave behind glass-like shells that accumulate over time in layers, is a key indicator of past water temperatures.

“The core is amazing,” Scherer said. “It’s better than we had hoped for. We got a long and very important geologic time sequence that has not been obtained before from under the ice shelf. It contains some pretty amazing stories that will be revealed with time.”

The scientists were surprised to find such large volumes of fossil diatoms in the cores. The presence of the fossilized one-cell creatures, some of them previously unknown to science, confirms that large areas of the Ross Ice Shelf have previously melted and were replaced with highly productive open waters.

“In each gram of this rich material, there are probably about 500 million diatoms,” Scherer said. “Nothing like this record has ever been recovered from the continental shelf. It’s truly remarkable.”

Both Powell and Scherer are associates of NIU’s Analytical Center for Climate and Environmental Change within the university’s Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences. Research on the ANDRILL core also will involve post-doctoral scientists and graduate and undergraduate students at NIU.

It will take years for scientists from across the world to unravel the many mysteries of the core, which is being stored at Florida State University’s Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility.

They are now working to correlate the new information to what was occurring in the climate in other parts of the world. Other climate records include deep-ocean geologic cores, which provide climate information from other parts of the world, and global sea-level records, which can be inferred from sedimentary deposits and erosion surfaces on continental shelves.

Antarctica New Zealand, which develops, manages and administers the country’s Antarctic activities, ran the on-ice drilling operations and logistics on behalf of the ANDRILL partner nations – the United States, New Zealand, Italy and Germany. The ANDRILL Science Management Office at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln coordinated U.S. science planning.

Twenty to gather for annual institute
to multiculturally ‘transform’ courses

In the 13 years since NIU launched the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, nearly 200 courses have been reborn.

But the need for the annual institute and its work remains as critical as ever.

Michael Gonzales, who helped to create MCTI in 1994 and is chair of this year’s task force, says college courses that skirt issues of multiculturalism are “dated.”

Multiculturalism is the inclusion of scholarship, theory, concept and fact of cultures that historically have been under-represented in all educational arenas.

“For example, because of the nature of the current Middle Eastern conflict, we need to know more about Islam,” Gonzales says. “One of the things we’ve tried to do in the institute in recent years is to provide a forum to communicate some of the cultural and religious values of Muslim students that you many need to know as an instructor.”

The answer is simpler than knowing the Koran or the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, he says. It is important to know, for example, something about the dates of important religious holidays and issues of appropriate dress.

“I don’t think it’s about political correctness at all,” he says. “It’s about being a responsible instructor. If you want to be effective in the classroom, you have to be able to communicate with all of your students.”

NIU’s 14th Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, scheduled for next week, features keynote speaker Barbara Love. All panel sessions are open to the public.

Love, a professor of education who specializes in social justice facilitation and design at the Amherst campus of University of Massachusetts, speaks from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center.

A DVD presentation of “Mirrors of Privilege” is scheduled for 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, in the Heritage Room.

Other open sessions in the Heritage Room include:

  • past participants (10:45 a.m. to noon Monday, May 14)
  • cultural diversity (1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Monday)
  • race and ethnicity (9 a.m. to noon Wednesday)
  • LGBT and gender (9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, May 17)
  • social class (10:45 a.m. to noon Thursday)
  • religion (9 a.m. to noon Friday, May 18)

Closed sessions challenge each participant to weave the ideals of multiculturalism and the lessons of the panels into a syllabus he or she brought.

“We give them the opportunity to hear directly from students from a variety of diverse backgrounds regarding their experiences in NIU classrooms,” Gonzales says, “and we create safe environments for people to have frank discussions with one another and to exchange ideas about their experiences.”

Robin Moremen, director of undergraduate studies in NIU’s Department of Sociology, says the institute “is a grassroots effort to reach students through the faculty.”

Faculty who willingly embrace the need to see diversity and multiculturalism as important issues will pass that on to their students, Moremen says.

“The feedback we’ve gotten from the faculty participants is that they did not always have an idea about the magnitude of the impact they’ve had by transforming their courses until they actually engaged in the process,” she adds.

“They found the students were more engaged in the material. More students were able to recognize issues related to them. White middle-class students were brought to a greater sense of understanding. The more exposure they have to a multicultural curriculum, the more prepared they’re going to be to deal with 21st century society.”

Moremen has been involved for more than a decade as a participant, a presenter and a task force member.

“I am a middle-class, educated white woman who feels that one of the important issues that needs to be addressed is making other people from backgrounds similar to mine realize how important it is not only to see the disadvantage and the oppression that many people from minority backgrounds have,” she says, “but also how people like myself benefit from white skin color privilege, from social class privilege, from education privilege. By not recognizing systems of dominance we maintain systems of oppression.”

Gonzales, who is director of Latino and Latin American Studies, says the institute appeals to a wide variety of faculty. Even professors outside the humanities and social sciences have students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, he says.

All participants must give presentations in the fall on the course transformations.

“When I go to those and hear someone say, ‘Well, this has made me a better teacher,’ or ‘I’ve gotten so many good ideas about how to improve my course’ or ‘I’ve gotten inspiration on how to create a new course,’ that for me is very important,” Gonzales says.

“There are also instances when colleagues have said that participating in the institute has caused them to think more introspectively about fundamental questions of race, culture and gender,” he adds. “When people say those kinds of things, it’s very satisfying.”

This year’s participants, who will receive $1,000 each upon completion of the institute and the demonstrated transformation of their courses, are:

  • Gulsat Aygen, English
  • Robert L. Carter, Teaching and Learning
  • Kerry Chermel, Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • John Hansen, Marketing
  • Beverly Henry, Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences
  • Jeanne Jakubowski, English
  • Dennis R. Jones, Technology
  • Madelyn Kerback Anderson, Communications
  • Karen Kjellquist-Gutierrez, Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Yih-Wen Kuo, Art
  • Patricia Lahorra-Rickert, English
  • Reinaldo Javier Moraga, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Jane Njue, Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences
  • Ron Parrish, Management
  • Mira Reisberg, Art
  • Diane Rodgers, Sociology
  • Linda Saborio, Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Sammy Vavroch, Leadership, Psychology and Foundations of Education
  • Jui-Ching Wang, Music
  • Mark Van Wienen, English

For more information, call (815) 753-8557 or visit

Sorensen accepts dean’s position at University of Hawaii at Manoa

Christine Sorensen, dean of the Northern Illinois University College of Education since 2002, will leave DeKalb at the end of July for a similar position at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The largest and oldest UH campus, Manoa offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees alongside its strong and vital research program. Sorensen will serve as dean of its College of Education, which houses two significant research centers with considerable grant funding.

Sorensen guided the NIU College of Education through years of lean state funding and tightened budgets into more prosperous times of partnerships, innovation and improved assessment.

“My life’s philosophy always has been, ‘You’ll be where you’re supposed to be,’ ” Sorensen said. “Hawaii is a place my husband and I have always wanted to be.”

NIU President John G. Peters places Sorensen “among the nation’s most knowledgeable leaders in the areas of teacher preparation and K-12 school partnerships.”

“She has provided invaluable leadership for our P-20 (pre-school through graduate school) task force, working closely with deans from four other colleges to create seamless transitions for students as they progress to each new level of education,” Peters said.

“Her legacy at NIU also includes a local school district partnership that created a jointly-run elementary school where new teaching methods are tested and pre-service teachers receive hands-on classroom experience well before their student teaching placements,” he added. “Chris Sorensen has made a difference at NIU, and we will miss her energetic leadership.”

Sorensen’s NIU career began in 1996 as an assistant professor in the curriculum and instruction department.

Her star rose quickly.

The Iowa native became an assistant chair by 1997 and was named associate dean in 2000. She stepped in as acting dean eight months later and permanently assumed the top job July 1, 2002.

Since then, Sorensen has built a legacy of partnerships across departments, colleges and
school districts.

The university’s P-20 initiatives took a national stage in 2004 at the Association of Teacher Educators Summer Conference in Cambridge, Mass. Sorensen and four other deans presented the project, and their healthy collaboration became “the talk of the conference.”

“People can’t believe a group of deans gets along so well,” Sorensen said at the time. “We have a lot of respect for one another, and we trust each other. We’ve learned the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.”

Sorensen also wrote the $5 million federal grant that funds Project REAL, a partnership between NIU, the Rockford Public Schools and Rock Valley College to enhance teacher quality and student performance in Rockford’s District 205.

Faculty, staff and administrators in five colleges have become extensively engaged in the project, which among its many developments is a week-long summer experience on NIU’s campus for Jefferson High School students who are not necessarily college-bound. The goal is to engage them in math, science and technology experiences in hopes of changing their aspirations.

The dean also participates on the coordinating committee for the Wright School project, a partnership school between NIU and the DeKalb Public Schools.

Inside the walls of her own college, she long has promoted a mission of “Shaping the Future with PRIDE” to the faculty and staff. Progress is good on all fronts: partnerships, research, innovation, diversity/development and evaluation.

  • The college is a partner with the Illinois State Board of Education, the Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Resource Center in a federally funded initiative to recruit and train bilingual teachers.
  • Working educators can earn doctorates through alternative deliveries taken into the school districts where they work. Students with associate’s degrees can complete their bachelor’s degrees in elementary education through their community colleges.
  • All of the college’s classrooms were remodeled into technology-rich environments. State-of-the-art laboratories were developed, and money was invested in adaptive technologies to serve students with special needs.
  • First-year faculty are required to attend a semester-long course on incorporating technology into their curriculum, and all faculty can take advantage of professional development opportunities regarding technology.
  • The College Leadership Educational Opportunity, which will begin this summer, is a year-long program for as many as a dozen senior faculty. The participants will interact across department lines, learn more about college and university operations and discover potential opportunities for faculty leadership roles.
  • David Walker was hired as the college’s assessment director. Walker is setting a priority on creating a consistent flow of data and assembling an implementation team comprised of faculty, staff and administrators to assist in gathering, reviewing and depositing programmatic data.

“I think I’ve moved the college along,” Sorensen said. “Every day we’re a little bit further along.”

She hopes her successor will “encourage new ideas and try to build on our strengths.”

Among the challenges: the upcoming NCATE accreditation process, scheduled for 2009, and assembling a solid leadership team during a time of many new faces.

Associate Dean Carol Logan Patitu arrived last month. Paul Kelter, new chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, is coming in July. Lemuel Watson, chair of the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education and former acting associate dean, is leaving. Wilma Miranda, longtime chair of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, is retiring.

“There are wonderful people here. They care about what they do and they work hard to serve the students,” Sorensen said. “We have a wonderful team, and they work together extremely well. The new person is going to have to build a new team.”

In Hawaii, Sorensen will head a college known as the state’s largest preparer of teachers.

The College of Education at UH-Manoa is the only nationally accredited teacher preparation program in Hawaii and is ranked among the top 100 graduate schools in education in U.S. News and World Report.

More than 1,500 students, two-thirds of whom are graduate students, are enrolled in programs at the baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate, master and doctoral levels. More than 500 collect degrees each year, about half of which are graduate degrees. About 100 post-baccalaureate certificates in secondary and special education are awarded annually.

The college also is home to about 250 students from neighboring islands who are targeted specifically by statewide teacher preparation programs.

Major award for Lincoln/Net project is bittersweet

Key member of digitization team died as a result of March auto accident

The Lincoln/Net Web site produced by NIU Libraries has won a major national award for excellence, but the honor is a bittersweet one for library staff members who are mourning the death of colleague Tara Dirst, a major contributor to the online project.

During a formal ceremony held a week ago at the Yale Club in New York City, Gettysburg College presented Drew VandeCreek, creator of Lincoln/Net and director of University Libraries’ digitization unit, with the 2007 Electronic Lincoln Prize.

The $10,000 award is given for significant contribution in new media to scholarship about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era. The Lincoln/Net site is located at

Dirst, a 33-year-old NIU alumna who worked on Lincoln/Net from its inception seven years ago, died April 8 as the result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident on a snowy Friday afternoon in early March.

She was returning from her lunch break, having gone home to feed her 10-month-old daughter, when the accident occurred on Annie Glidden Road near Dresser Road.

“Tara was an incredibly talented, intelligent person whose contributions went far beyond being assistant director of the Lincoln/Net project,” said Mary Munroe, interim dean of University Libraries. “She was a musician, a historian, a librarian and a person who understood technology. In addition, she was a wonderful friend and mentor to most of the students and faculty she worked with. She will be irreplaceable.”

VandeCreek said Dirst, technical coordinator for the digitization unit, was a vital member of his team and would have accompanied him to the award ceremony in New York.

The Lincoln/Net Web site focuses on Abraham Lincoln’s life before the presidency. It contains interactive maps, more than 3,000 images, hundreds of video and sound files and in excess of 30 million words of searchable text, including Lincoln’s speeches and writings prior to his presidency.

Used frequently by scholars, educators, students and the general public, the site attracts thousands of unique visitors daily from across the world.

“The concept of Lincoln/Net was my idea, but its execution and creation as an online resource was almost entirely Tara’s work,” VandeCreek said. 

“Tara had a real multiplicity of skills,” he added. “I could tell her how I wanted something to look and she delivered it. She was a very important part of what we do and a wonderful colleague.”

Dirst first came to NIU as a student, earning her bachelor’s degrees in history and political science, as well as a master’s degree in history. Additionally, she received a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Dirst met her husband, Kevin Sommerfield, while they were students at NIU. They were married in 1998.

“I don’t think I ever met anyone more proud to have gotten their degrees from NIU,” VandeCreek said. “Tara really liked her home institution and was a big advocate for NIU. She had a national reputation in her field and represented the university very well.”

A gifted musician who played piano, guitar and saxophone, Dirst arranged the recordings of a number of sound files for the Lincoln/Net Web site using 19th century sheet music. She played on some of the tracks. She also had a teaching certification in social studies which she put to use creating lesson plans for educators visiting the site.

A memorial is being established for the education of Dirst’s daughter. Contributions can be made to the Kiera J. Sommerfield Education Fund in care of Anderson Funeral Home Ltd., P.O. Box 605, 2011 S. Fourth St., DeKalb, IL 60115. For information, call (815) 756-1022.

Convocation Center becoming entertainment destination

When the laughing and the cheering for Larry the Cable Guy finally died down last Thursday, it marked the end of the most successful semester to date for the NIU Convocation Center.

Between January and May, the facility played host to sold out concerts for rocker John Mayer, country-western superstars Sugarland, alt-rockers the Goo Goo Dolls and performance artists Blue Man Group.

Not too shabby for an arena that sprung up from a former corn field just a little more than five years ago.

“Five years is not that long, and we have come a long way,” says John Gordon, director of the Convocation Center. “Back then, we were out knocking on doors asking promoters to give us a shot. Now they’re calling us with some of their best acts. We are averaging more than 200 events a year.”

Helping the arena take its place as an entertainment destination is its flexibility, Gordon says.

“Acts today are looking for venues like the Convocation Center. Few performers can fill 20,000 seats; they want places than can accommodate 5,000 to 10,000 people. We provide that,” Gordon says. “The flexibility of the facility means we can accommodate shows throughout that range and provide them an appropriate venue, from a fairly intimate entertainment experience to arena rock spectacle.”

The spring line-up demonstrates that quality. The John Mayer show drew 8,000 fans, while Sugarland brought in 5,000 and the Goo Goo Dolls and Blue Man Group about 4,200 each.

The Convocation Center is also very adaptable as far as the type of acts it recruits.

In addition to big name bands, there have been events such as the Lipizzaner Stallions, circuses and even Sesame Street Live.

In one memorable weekend, the Convocation Center hosted a Monster Truck rally on Friday night, cleared out the trucks and the crushed cars in time to set up for a women’s basketball game on Saturday afternoon and set up for a second Monster Truck event Saturday night. “That weekend was a true testament to the quality of our staff,” Gordon says.

That weekend also illustrates how those who run the facility strive to satisfy a wide range of entertainment tastes, which NIU Student Trustee Andrew Nelms says makes it popular with students.

“With 25,000 students, they have a broad base of people to appeal to and please,” Nelms says. “I think they do a great job of scheduling diverse acts.”

A less-known use of the venue is large-scale conferences. For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Chicago book several events at the Convocation Center each summer, drawing more than 6,000 people to the facility for multi-day conferences.

Such events are an important source of revenue, not only for the Convocation Center, but also for area hotels and restaurants.

“Naturally, we love it when they book events like that. When you have 6,000 people in town and only 800 rooms, business is good for everyone,” says Vicky Torres, chair of the DeKalb Sycamore Hotel Association, who names the annual Farm Show as another event that fills local hotels. 

“The arena has been a wonderful addition to the city,” agrees DeKalb City Manager Mark Biernacki. “It is one of the things that make DeKalb a destination point. Events at the Convocation Center mean increased spending at hotels, restaurants, bars and gas stations, and that helps keep our local economy strong. It’s good for the entire community.”

The facility is also fulfilling its primary role as a central headquarters and showcase venue for Huskie Athletics. The building hosts men’s and women’s basketball games, wrestling and volleyball matches and gymnastic meets. It is also home to the offices of all Huskie sports except football.

“The Convocation Center has an immeasurable impact on all 486 of our student athletes, who use it on a daily basis,” says Jim Phillips, associate vice president/director of athletics at NIU. “It has certainly been the crown jewel of our athletics facilities and it represents our commitment to excellence, not just in athletics, but for the university as a whole.”

It is also a popular venue for high school sports. Events such as the annual grudge match between the basketball teams of DeKalb High School and Sycamore High School draw more than 5,000 spectators. This year’s Illinois High School Supersectional games drew a rafter-rattling crowd of 8,000 screaming fans.

Of all of the events the Convocation Center hosts over the course of a year, it takes special pride in putting on a good show for commencement exercises.

“People enter the building that day as students and leave as alumni. We like to make that final student experience a special one,” says Gordon.

For this weekend’s spring commencement, when most students graduate, the Convocation Center staff coordinates three ceremonies, each hosting about 7,000 people, over the course of a single day.

“That third group has no idea that 14,000 people have already been through the facility that day. We really pride ourselves on making it a special day,” says Kevin Selover, the assistant director in charge of marketing.

“The Convocation Center is a wonderful venue for commencement,” says Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver. “It has allowed us to make commencement more of a university-wide event. As the families of students come into the building, I hear a lot of people saying, ‘Wow, I never knew there was anything like this at NIU.’ I hear the same thing at job fairs and high school sporting events. It’s just a terrific facility.”

Christopher Jones named Academic Fellow
to Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

Political scientist will travel to Israel for seminar on combating terrorism

Christopher Jones, chair of political science at NIU, will travel to Israel late this month with about 40 leading U.S. academics for an intensive 10-day program providing a window into how the country combats terrorism.

Jones is a U.S. foreign policy and national security specialist. He learned earlier this month that he was accepted as an Academic Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C.

As an FDD Fellow, he will participate in the educational trip to Israel focusing on the threat of terrorism to democracy. Taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, the course of study takes place in the classroom and in the field with lectures by academics, diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and politicians from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States.

Fellows also will visit military bases, border zones and other security installations to learn the practical side of deterring terrorist attacks. The goal of the program is to offer information to teaching professionals about the latest trends in terrorists’ ideologies, motives and operations.

“There’s an academic component to the program but also a component where we will be exposed to practitioners,” Jones said. “The Israelis are viewed as being on the cutting-edge of global anti-terrorism and counterterrorism methods.”

He said his students in political science ultimately will benefit.

“This opportunity provides a good way to add fresh practical information into the national security and foreign policy courses that I teach at NIU,” Jones said. “Students appreciate it when you can tell them what’s happening on the ground. And the experience will create a basis for comparative analysis between U.S. and Israeli counterterrorism activities.”

FDD is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that seeks to educate Americans about the terrorist threat to democracies worldwide.

NIU’s Amy Levin writes the book
on local (sometimes quirky) museums

Amy Levin loves museums, but it is not the sprawling, columned variety that most pique her curiosity.

“I adore small and quirky museums – you might say I collect them,” says Levin, an NIU English professor whose new book underscores the importance of such institutions.

“Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of History in America’s Changing Communities” (AltaMira Press) assembles a collection of essays that provide a window into museums that are slightly off the beaten path.

They range from the New York East Side Tenement Museum and the Freakatorium in New York City to Old Cowtown in Wichita, the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Girard Collection of Folk Art in Santa Fe.

Levin serves as editor of “Defining Memory.” As the title suggestions, the book examines how local museums have both shaped and been shaped by evolving community values and sense of history.

“I noticed that while there are many books on major museums and museum theory, there is little in print on small museums,” Levin says. “That was the genesis of the book.”

Levin has herself visited dozens of local museums across the country, including such Illinois institutions as the Ellwood House in DeKalb and the Geneva History Center. The Ellwood House is mentioned in the book, and the Geneva museum is featured in an essay written by Elizabeth Vallance of Indiana University.

The editor and her contributors argue that local museums play a key role in defining America’s self-identity and should be studied as seriously as more national institutions. NIU Distinguished Research Professor David Kyvig, an expert in 20th century American history, wrote the book’s foreword.

“Amy’s collection of stories offers insight into the diversity of activities going on in local museums,” says Kyvig, who separately has authored of a series of guides to local history research. “I hope her book will be an inspiration to people across the country trying to improve the quality of local museum practice. Some of them are achieving great success, often with few resources and against daunting restraints. They are engaged in an important effort to preserve and explain American grassroots culture.”

While Levin serves as the book’s editor, she also wrote chapters on museums in lower Manhattan, including on the Museum of American Financial History, the Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian and the New York Police Museum. She thought she had completed her writing in early September 2001.

“Within 10 days, the museums I wrote about were closed, at the center of the worst terrorist attacks in American history,” Levin says. “Several years later, I was given additional funds to go back and write the following chapter, on how the museums coped with and presented 9/11.”

Levin has been teaching at NIU since 1995. She also coordinates NIU’s Museum Studies program and serves as director of the university’s Women’s Studies program. More information on her new book is available online.

NIU historian Stephen Haliczer featured
in Inquisition miniseries to air on PBS

Stephen Haliczer, distinguished research professor at NIU, will be prominently featured this week in the American premiere of a four-part docudrama, “Secret Files of the Inquisition,” on PBS.

Haliczer is one of the world’s top experts on the Spanish Inquisition and an expert on the history of the Roman Catholic Church. He appears frequently in on-camera interviews in the mini-series.

The first two installments will air at 9 and 10 p.m. respectively Wednesday, May 9, on WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago, with the final two episodes airing at the same times on Wednesday, May 16.

Encore high-definition episodes will be broadcast throughout the month as well. (See

According to its Web site (, the docudrama “tells a story of epic proportions and powerful themes of holy wars and crusades, of torture and terror, of the struggle for human rights and dignity.” Award-winning director David Rabinovitch created the docudrama, which is based on previously unreleased secret documents from European archives, including the Vatican.

Shot in Spain with Spanish actors, the miniseries contains historical recreations of events as well as interviews with noted experts on the Inquisition. The series already has aired to rave reviews in other parts of the world, including Europe, Australia and Canada.

“It’s a brilliant piece of work, and it’s quite unique in its approach, drawing upon and dramatizing material from actual case files,” Haliczer said. “It brings the Inquisition down to a very human level, showing its impact on communities, families and individuals.”

Haliczer said the filmmakers benefited greatly from the 1998 opening of sealed Vatican archives on the Inquisition. The vast archives hold a treasure trove of material, including records of the Roman inquisition and provincial tribunals, case files, related letters and financial and personnel documents.

During 2005, Haliczer spent several days in Vancouver being interviewed and filmed by Rabinovitch. He said the miniseries covers virtually the entire history of the Inquisition, a term that broadly refers to the tribunal or institution of the Roman Catholic Church for combating and suppressing heresy.

The first miniseries installment deals with the Medieval Inquisition that began in 1233 with the suppression of the Cathar movement. The second episode examines the great tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition, established in 1478. The final two installments are related to the Roman Inquisition, established in 1542 to combat the Protestant movement and deal with issues of censorship.

“Most people think the Inquisition ended hundreds and hundreds of years ago, which is certainly not the case,” Haliczer said. “The Spanish Inquisition ended formally in 1835, and the Roman Inquisition continues today as a department of papal government, known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith or CDF. It is still charged in the same way with promoting and safeguarding the Catholic faith, but the CDF’s primary responsibility today is to evaluate the orthodoxy of the work of Catholic theologians.”

In 2000, Pope John Paul II apologized for the sins committed in the name of the church through the ages. The current CDF undersecretary, the Rev. Joseph Di Noia, is interviewed in the mini-series. “He’s the highest ranking official of the CDF to ever appear on television in an inquisition documentary,” Haliczer said.

The NIU professor emeritus has written a number of books over the course of his career, including “Inquisition and Society in the Kingdom of Valencia” (University of California Press, 1990), one of the pioneering studies of a local inquisitorial tribunal.

His most recent book, “From Exaltation to Infamy; Female Mystics in the Golden Age of Spain,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2002. It uses Inquisition case files to compare women mystics punished by the Holy Office with those who were accepted by the wider society.

In recent years, Haliczer has changed his focus to developing simulations and games for learning and the commercial market.

He is the developer of “Vatican: The Papal Election Board Game,” which gives players a glimpse into the day-to-day dynamics of the church – how it is organized, how members build status and ultimately how individuals move into leadership positions that enable them to be considered papal material. He also has developed a printed and digital timeline of Catholic Church history.

For more information, see

NIU’s deaf volleyball team scores big in tournament

Not all of NIU’s sports stars are playing in the official Huskies cardinal and black.

The 11 members of NIU/PHI (Program for Hearing Impaired) Deaf Volleyball Team are the champions of the Third Annual Harper College Deaf Volleyball Tournament held last month in Palatine.

Players Marie Kluss and Adam Wasilewski were named tournament “All-Stars” while Rebecca “Becca” Janssen and Dan Ujwary took MVP honors.

Sapphire Cage, Jeffrey Domaleczny, Helen “Hannah” Handschuh, LaShawn Morris, Alyce Robinson, Devin Rosentreter and Ryan Ruble rounded out the victorious squad.

Jenifer Montag, coordinator of services for students who are deaf and hard of hearing at NIU’s Center for Access-Ability Resources, and Maggie Cormier, counselor for the Program for Hearing Impaired, served as co-coaches.

“It was great. They did amazingly well,” Montag said. “The students like to have a good time, get together and spend time with classmates and fellow students in activities. Winning the tournament was just icing on the cake.”

The students practiced two hours every Sunday from the fall semester until the April 21 tournament, learning basic drills, practicing and running scrimmages. Cormier, who had been a member of the team during her college days, taught many of the drills.

Most of the students played in high school – the tournament also has a high school section – and already know the visual communication inherent in deaf volleyball, Montag said.

“Besides an audible ‘mine’ or ‘got it,’ they also do a broad hand movement to show they’re getting it,” she said. “When the ref calls foul, he either shakes the net or throws the white towel to stop the play.”

The tournament pitted NIU in a double-elimination round robin against Moraine Valley Community College, the University of Iowa and host Harper.

NIU split its match with MVCC, won both games over Iowa, split with Harper, took two games from Moraine Valley, split with Harper again and finally claimed victory in a tie-breaker.

A huge crowd was on hand to see NIU’s success.

“It’s a deaf community event. We saw alumni and friends of friends. Most of the volunteers are part of the deaf community. It’s very inclusive,” Montag said. “I love to see the students getting together, having fun and doing something as a team, and they achieved so much this year.”

Now a new challenge looms: NIU teams were tournament champions three straight years in 1999, 2000 and 2001.


NIU art professor Charlotte Rollman is the featured artist at the first juried invitational exhibition of the Bowery Gallery’s 2007 season.

Rollman’s show, called “Offerings for Mother Nature,” is on display from June 19 through July 7 at the New York City gallery. It features about 20 works on paper showcasing the landscape and the seasons’ varying elements.

The central theme of Rollman’s work focuses on the ever-changing elements of nature: earth, air, fire and water. As a plein art painter for several years, Rollman expresses her devotion to nature by using a rich palette of color and active mark-making influenced by her study of Eastern paintings and writing.

The opening reception, which coincides with the summer solstice, is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 21. The Bowery Gallery is located at 530 West 25th Street, 4th Floor, in New York’s Chelsea Art District.

More information is available online at

* * *

Student and professional staff members of NIU’s First-Year Experience and Orientation office swept several major awards at the National Orientation Directors Association Region V conference earlier this month in Waterloo, Iowa.

Abbey Wolfman, an assistant director completing her second year of service at NIU, was honored as Region V’s Outstanding New Professional. Wolfman also was elected to a three-year term as coordinator of the region, which includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

Senior marketing major Amanda Scott Born, a native of Freeport, Ill., was selected as the Outstanding Student Leader for the region. She also garnered an award for best communication skills in the conference’s Case Study competition.

Scott Born and Artice Weston Jr. presented a conference program titled “Professor Parsons Has Written on Your Wall: Inspiring Self-Awareness for Online Community Profiles.” Their presentation was voted by conference participants as one of the top five conference sessions. Weston is a senior speech-language pathology/audiology major from DeKalb.

* * *

NIU senior Viqar “Vic” Mohammad of DeKalb recently placed ninth overall in the 135th Interstate Oratory Contest, held this year in Santa Fe, N.M.

The Interstate Oratory Contest is the nation’s oldest speech tournament. Past participants have included the likes of William Jennings Bryan, Jane Addams and George McGovern.

Mohammad, a nursing major who has competed for the NIU forensics team for the last four years, qualified for the tournament by being named state champion in the open division of the Illinois Forensics Association State Tournament, held in March. 

At the national competition, he delivered his speech on the topic of ovarian cancer awareness.

“We were very pleased to see Vic make it to the semifinal round,” said NIU Forensics Team Coach Judy Santacaterina. “He did a fine job representing the State of Illinois.”

Physical Plant to hold annual steam outage

To perform maintenance and repairs on high pressure steam lines on campus, the Physical Plant and Heating Plant will hold its annual steam outage.

West Campus: from 9 p.m. Monday, May 14, through noon Friday, May 18, including all buildings west of Carroll Avenue, except Stevenson, and various other smaller buildings not served by steam. Domestic and heating hot water will not be available.

East Campus: from 9 p.m. Sunday, May 27, or Monday, May 28, through noon Thursday, May 31, including all buildings east of Carroll Avenue, except for various other smaller buildings not served by steam. Domestic and heating hot water will not be available.

Address any questions or concerns to Kevin Vines, chief engineer, at (815) 753-6090 or via e-mail at

Law Library announces hours for reading period, final exams

The David C. Shapiro Memorial Law Library has announced its schedule through June 1, which includes reading period and final exams.

Extended hours through Monday, May 14, are from 7:15 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 7:15 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays. The library is open from 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.

Hours from Wednesday, May 16, through Friday, June 1, are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The exception is Memorial Day Weekend, when the library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 26, and closed Sunday, May 27, and Monday, May 28.

Call (815) 753-0505 for more information.

Community School presents student recitals, concerts

The NIU Music Building will resound with all types of musical performances this month as many students in the NIU Community School of the Arts perform in recitals and concerts.

All recitals are scheduled in the Recital Hall unless otherwise noted, and many end with a gala reception. The recitals are free and open to the public.

May 7: The solo guitar and Suzuki guitar students of Eric Schroeder perform at 7 p.m.

May 9: CSA Sinfonia performs at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall. This is one of the best regional youth orchestras in the area and is directed by Linc Smelser. Admission to the orchestra is by audition only.

May 11: The violin students of Hannah Bridgeland perform at 6 p.m. followed by the senior viola and voice recital of Anna Bross. Bross studies viola with Ann Montzka-Smelser and voice with Angela Panzarella.

May 12: The Suzuki violin students perform solos and in groups beginning at 1 p.m. in the Concert Hall.

May 13: The CSJazz Band, under the direction of Johan Eriksson, takes the Concert Hall stage at 7:30 p.m.

May 15: The solo violin students of Jackie Moore perform at 6 p.m.

May 19: The solo cello students of Linc Smelser perform at 10 a.m.

May 21: The solo piano students of Suzuki teacher Marilyn Montzka perform at 4 p.m. 

Lessons, classes and ensembles in music, art and theater are offered for children and adults throughout the year. The summer semester begins Monday, June 18. For more information, contact Renee Page at (815) 753-1450 or visit

Academic Advising Center moves

NIU’s Academic Advising Center will move today to Adams Hall Room 404 and will have limited access the rest of the week.

Telephone numbers will remain the same, but the center will have a new fax number: (815) 753-2902. E-mail for more information.

Retirement party scheduled for CHANCE’s Linda Peterson

Linda Peterson, a CHANCE program counselor with 19 years of service, is retiring. A dessert reception will be held in her honor from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, in the Holmes Student Center Sky Room.

Join the CHANCE staff in expressing appreciation for Peterson’s commitment to making the best possible experiences at NIU for her students and extending best wishes upon her retirement.

Contact Adriana Moreno Nevarez at (815) 753-7094 or via e-mail at for more information.

Athletics to offer summer camps

NIU Huskie Athletics is offering summer camps focusing on a variety of sports, including athletic training, baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling. The camps are designed for youth of various ages.

Detailed information and registration are available online at

FIT Program announces summer registration dates

Registration for the summer edition of the FIT Program will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June, 12, through Thursday, June 14, in Anderson Hall 127.

All current and new members should attend one of the days to update paperwork and have their blood pressure taken. E-mail for any questions or information regarding the FIT program.

Volunteers needed to welcome new NIU students in August

Thousands of new and returning students will begin to arrive on campus at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, to start the fall semester.

The continued and valued support of the NIU family and DeKalb community is critical to transitioning this year’s incoming students and their families into the Huskie family.

Kelly Wesener, executive director for Housing and Dining, invites the university community to participate in this year’s Welcome Days, from Thursday Aug. 23, through Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Volunteers are needed to help the Division of Student Affairs at three events: Opening Day Move-In, Huskies Helping Huskies and House Calls. Please volunteer for one, two, or all three events.

Opening Day: Volunteers will assist students and their families, Thursday, Aug. 23, by driving golf carts of students’ belongings from family vehicles to the residence halls. Students also will volunteer by moving the new students’ belongings to their rooms. As a sign of appreciation, each volunteer will receive a free T-shirt to be worn Opening Day and a 50 percent discount for the annual Huskie Bash. The Huskie Bash will make campus come alive at 4 p.m. Thursday in Central Park.

Huskies Helping Huskies: Volunteers will be stationed at kiosks across campus Monday, Aug. 27, and Tuesday, Aug. 28, to answer students’ questions or direct them to a particular destination on campus.

House Calls: Volunteers will greet first-year students at assigned residence hall floors the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 28. The volunteers will welcome the students and answer any questions they have.

Volunteer registration is available at

Volunteers will receive additional information over the summer. Members of the NIU Operating Staff who wish to participate can request release from their regular duties. Staff participation is subject to supervisory approval and should not interfere with regular operational needs of the university.

For more information, visit or contact Joshua Johnson at (815) 753-7482 or via e-mail at