Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today - November 19, 2007

NIU researchers get $2 million grant
to create online scientific inquiry game

Top secret intelligence reports indicate aliens have infiltrated the human race with plans to conquer the planet.

Using advanced technology, the aliens can appear as humans. For decades they have published compromised research in various fields and used advertising blitzes to turn humans into mindless consumers.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to identify faulty research and deceitful researchers, thereby exposing the alien creatures and their diabolical plan.

Sound like a new video game? In a sense, it is.

You’ve just read the synopsis for Operation ARIES, an online educational game being developed by researchers at NIU and several other top institutions. The aim is to create a learning tool that will teach scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills to students by leveraging the so-called “thumb generation’s” passion of video games.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded $2 million to NIU over four years for development of the educational game. Keith Millis, an NIU professor of psychology, leads a team of 11 researchers on the project, including five other NIU faculty members.

“Students love to play video games,” says Millis, a cognitive psychologist who specializes in reading comprehension. “We need to harness that interest and use it in the classroom.”

Operation ARIES, an acronym for Acquiring Research Investigative and Evaluative Skills, will make use of a computer-animated “intelligent tutor,” powered by software with components of artificial intelligence. The tutor will teach vital concepts of scientific inquiry, hold conversations with students and immerse them in engaging problems that incorporate aspects of psychology, sociology, chemistry and biology.

Led by the animated tutor, or “guide agent,” students will evaluate case studies in search of faulty science and teach the skills they learn to an animated apprentice agent, a strategy that promotes deep learning. Students also must interrogate aliens, an application of critical thinking skills.

Points will be awarded based on each user’s progress, giving the learning sessions the feel of a serious game.

“It takes time to learn these skills, and we’re taking seriously the challenge of trying to keep students engaged and interested over a course of weeks or more,” Millis says. “We want to make the game intellectually challenging, while at the same time fun and engaging.”

The project responds to a serious crisis for educators and policymakers: American students are not learning scientific inquiry skills. In 2005, fewer than one in five high school seniors nationwide scored at the proficient level in science. U.S. science education lags well behind other nations.

“While packaged as a game, what we’re really building here is a sophisticated tutoring system that eventually will be accessible to high school and college students online,” Millis says. “We think it will be effective. The tutoring system will employ well-established learning strategies, including reflection, reciprocal teaching, self explanation, active response and dialogue interactions.”

The researchers hope the educational game will spur interest in scientific fields, but students stand to gain in other ways as well.

“We’re lacking courses that teach critical thinking skills, particularly in high school but also at the college level,” says Co-Project Director Anne Britt, an NIU cognitive psychologist with expertise in advanced-literacy skills, such as argument and comprehension.

“One of our challenges is to see whether the scientific inquiry and critical-thinking skills taught by Operation ARIES can be generalized across disciplines, from biology to chemistry, for example,” she says. “But we also hope these critical thinking skills will transfer to everyday life. These skills are necessary to help consumers look discerningly at advertisements that use pseudo-scientific language or even to aid voters as they scrutinize the claims of politicians.”

Intelligent tutoring systems are known to be effective. ARIES will provide for one-on-one tutoring. The system will keep track of what the student knows and follow the “Goldilocks Principle,” presenting new problems that are neither too easy nor too hard.

“Intelligent tutoring systems are not as good as one-to-one human tutoring, but they have been shown to boost student performance levels by a grade level,” Millis says.

Millis hopes to have the educational game operational within two years and up on the Web within four years. Students at NIU will test the system. Millis thinks ARIES will hold a key advantage over standard textbooks.

“Deep learning requires an effortful process of being engaged in the materials and using them. And with Operation ARIES, students will be required to apply what they learn.” Millis says. “Using a textbook doesn’t do that.”

Other NIU co-project directors include Joe Magliano and Katja Wiemer, both professors in the Department of Psychology. Amanda Durik and Patty Wallace, also from the Department of Psychology, and Jon Miller, a professor of biological sciences, will write content for the tutor. 

Co-project directors at other institutions include psychologists Art Graesser of the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis and Claremont McKenna College Professor Diane Halpern, former president of the American Psychological Association. Other research team members include Kimberly Lawler-Sagarin, a professor of chemistry at Elmhurst College; Danielle McNamara from the University of Memphis, and Sara Gilliam, a Ph.D. student who has won awards for her tutoring work at New Mexico State University.

NIU students grab top prize in Chipotle advertising contest

For four NIU students and their professor, life isn’t just good. It is, as the advertising jingle goes, burritoful.

“Just the fax” – a video ad produced by communication majors Chris Darkes, Brittany Samson, Sara Honchar and Joe Giorgi – took top honors in Chipotle Mexican Grill’s student advertising contest, “30 Seconds of Fame.”

Chipotle announced two first-place winners last week. The NIU team of students will split the $15,000 prize with a student team from Chapman University. An additional $7,500 from Chipotle goes to each university.

Video entries from all 12 finalists, which included a second team from NIU, are posted at www.chipotle.com.

Members of Chipotle’s internal marketing team selected the winners, said Chris Arnold, Chipotle public relations director. Judges looked for creativity and originality, consistency with brand and production value. They found all of the above in “Just the Fax.”

The spot uses no dialogue while telling the story of a famished officer worker (played by Darkes) whose Chipotle burrito order arrives in a rather unconventional way.

“We like the focused approach it took on promoting one element of our business, that being the fax-ordering capabilities,” Arnold said. “We thought the production value was really top notch, and the subtle humor really fit our personality and culture. It was a really good spot across the board.”

Arnold said Chipotle representatives, who will visit campus to deliver the prize money, don’t have specific plans for how the first-place ads might be used.

Last year’s winning spots were displayed during the holidays on the big screen in New York City’s Times Square. One of the spots also ran during the BCS championship football game, and some were used in movie-theater advertising.

The idea for the “Just the Fax” entry came to Darkes in a dream, he said. The NIU students filmed their ad in the Experiential Learning Center in the College of Business.

“We had a really good feeling about our spot,” Darkes said.

“It’s a huge thrill,” added Sara Honchar. “I was confident we had done a really good job, but I had no idea.”

Communication Professor Laura Vazquez, who advises the NIU Student Film and Video Association and teaches media production, could hardly contain her exuberance. The NIU students were competing against peers from universities with larger advertising and video-production programs.

“We’re up there with the top dogs – and we’re winning,” Vazquez told students who had gathered for a conference call with Chipotle reps to announce the contest results.

“Steak dinners on Vazquez,” one student chimed in.

Make that steak burritos.

Art education students return to Chicago
to paint Thanksgiving parade’s street logo

Most people spend the wee hours of Thanksgiving Day either in the warmth of their kitchens preparing turkey … or snug in their beds dreaming about turkey.

A couple dozen NIU art education students will mark that time instead with paint brushes and floodlights.

For the second consecutive year, the Chicago Festival Association has recruited the School of Art students to paint the official logo of the McDonald’s® Thanksgiving Parade onto State Street between Madison and Washington. And just to make the experience more memorable, temperatures are expected to dip just below freezing.

“We’ll bring a lot of hand warmers,” said an eager Casey Klemp, a junior art education major from Downers Grove who serves as president of NIU’s National Art Education Association chapter. “This will be a whole new experience.”

“I’m really excited to hang out with the art ed crew outside of class,” added Abby Mansell, a senior from Elmhurst. “It will be a great experience to paint the mural, and it will be fun to see the logo on TV behind the announcers.”

The students can begin work at 10 p.m. Wednesday when the street officially closes to traffic. A smaller copy of the logo divided into grids serves as their guide.

Although they essentially have several hours to paint the 30-foot-by-50-foot logo, last year’s 12-member student crew completed the job by 2:30 a.m. A half-hour later, with still hours before daylight and the 8:30 step-off of the parade, the tools and supplies were cleaned up and packed away and the 17 gallons of paint were dry.

Supplies all are provided by the Chicago Festival Association, which also pays for some hotel accommodations for the students and delivers some much-needed late-night pizzas.

NIU’s connection to the parade is art education alumna Carole Jo Fremouw, the association’s event manager.

Fremouw invited students from her alma mater to participate last year on short notice, but the results impressed everyone from Fremouw’s colleagues to the Chicago television crews who watched the painting take shape.

The painted street logo “provides such a great visual element” for marchers and TV and in-person viewers alike, she said.

“We hope this partnership with NIU continues for many years. They did such a phenomenal job last year,” Fremouw said. “The students just blew us out of the water. We couldn’t believe how quickly they did it, and how professional and gracious they were. Here we thought they’d be working well into the morning, and they were done just after 2 o’clock.”

Afterward, she said, the students can enjoy a little sleep at the hotel before joining other parade fans “front and center” at the grandstand.

Behind the floodlights and the bright lights, however, are plenty of lessons for the future art teachers.

“I think I’ll learn more about organization: how to organize 30 people on one project, and how to provide people with things to do the whole time without getting in each other’s way,” said Mansell, who will graduate in the spring and plans to teach art in high schools. “That’s probably going to be a challenge, so I think I’ll come away with an experience that will transfer directly to a high school class: a lot of problem-solving has to be done.”

Klemp said the parade painting is just the latest in a series of learning opportunities the School of Art provides its art education students.

NEAE students, working with faculty adviser Mira Reisberg and visiting professor Kryssi Staikidis, have made protective talismans for Hope Haven and next semester will make sock puppets with children at the homeless shelter and ceramic bowls for the Empty Bowls project, raising money to feed the hungry.

“This teaches kids that they can apply artwork outside of their classrooms,” Klemp said, “and in their communities.”

“Our students already do a lot of teamwork, but this just reinforces that ethic, and the ethic of giving back to the community,” Reisberg said. “Our students really learn how to connect with community, how to use art to benefit community and how to develop art skills and techniques that are meaningful, that give service to help others and that challenge them as well.”

“This gets them really excited because our program is very connected to art as visual culture, so the idea of painting together a logo for the Thanksgiving Parade has a lot of meaning for them,” Staikidis said. “They get to go into the city. They get to participate in an activity in urban area and bring attention to NIU as well as bridging community and camaraderie with their classmates. They feel special.”

More than 400,000 street-side spectators are projected for the 2007 McDonald’s® Thanksgiving Parade that travels north on State Street from Congress to Randolph.

WGN-Channel 9 will air the parade live and in high definition from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22. Superstation WGN also will broadcast the parade nationally to approximately 72 million cable homes, making it one of only three parades in the country covered live, in its entirety, on a national television broadcast.

For more information about the McDonald’s® Thanksgiving Parade, contact the Chicago Festivals Association at (312) 235-2217 or visit www.chicagofestivals.org.

Marketing’s Weilbaker, Political Science
honored for work in international education

NIU’s Division of International Programs is recognizing Marketing Professor Dan Weilbaker as the Outstanding International Educator for 2007 for his contributions to international education through teaching, research, public service and student service.

Additionally, International Programs is honoring Political Science as the Outstanding International Department for 2007, recognizing its significant contribution to internationalization efforts across campus.

The award winners were named at an International Education Week reception last week.

Weilbaker initiated the first study abroad program in the Department of Marketing at NIU in 2001, when he created a sales-specific short-term program at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. The program has become reciprocal since then and was expanded to include the University of Applied Sciences in Austria. Students from both Ireland and Austria come to NIU in the summer for a short-term program in sales.

Additionally, Weilbaker established semester-long exchanges with both universities and is working to bring international faculty to NIU for visiting appointments. He has served as a visiting professor at universities in the United Kingdom and in Italy. Weilbaker also conducts research into selling across cultural boundaries and global account management. 

“With these varied experiences abroad, Dan has infused international perspectives into the professional sales and marketing curricula in the College of Business, thereby helping his students who cannot study abroad to gain international understanding,” said Deborah Pierce, executive director of International Programs.

Faculty members in the Department of Political Science specialize in such topics as international security studies, the politics of Thailand and Indonesia and politics and development in the Muslim world. With graduate programs in Comparative Politics and International Relations, the department also attracts to campus strong scholars with international interests, including Department Chair Christopher Jones and Danny Unger as well as new hires Kikue Hamayotsu and Y.K. Wang.

“Because of the strong interests of department faculty throughout the years in international research, particularly Southeast Asian issues, the Department of Political Science played an active role in creating both the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Division of International Programs,” Pierce said. “The department continues to maintain productive connections to both groups.”

A number of political science faculty members have won Fulbright fellowships in recognition of their outstanding international research, including Daniel Kempton, Gregory Schmidt, Dwight King and Professor Emeritus Clark Neher. King currently serves as director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, a post formerly held by Neher.

Department faculty are becoming more active as well in study abroad, notably through the NIU at Oxford program and a new program for summer 2008, “The Political Economy of Thailand.”

NIU will hold ‘Muggle Ball,’
winter academy for Harry Potter fans

Attention Harry Potter fans of all ages: Get ready to dance the night away, and feel free to dress up as your favorite character from the book and movie series.

The public is invited to attend a Muggle (Yule) Ball from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in the auditorium of Altgeld Hall.

Musical entertainment will be provided by the Remus Lupins and Sound Force VDJs. Light refreshments will be served, and a fog machine will add to the ambiance of the event.

Activities will include a Harry Potter raffle, silent auction to benefit the NIU Friends of the Library and drive to collect new and gently used books for children and young adults in DeKalb County. People attending the event will receive one raffle ticket for each book they donate.

To purchase tickets for the Muggle Ball at $5 each, call (815) 753-5200 or email Mark Pietrowski, external programming coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at pietrowski@niu.edu.

That same day, NIU will host a Winter Muggle Academy for students from noon to 5:30 p.m., and a New Ideas Conference from noon to 5 p.m. for teachers wanting to incorporate the J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series into their classrooms. Visit www.niu.edu/CLASEP online for cost and registration information on both events. Children of NIU employees will receive a $15 discount.

The Winter Muggle Academy is modeled after Hogwarts, the fictional school of witchcraft and wizardry where Harry Potter comes of age, and is geared for students in grades 4 through 12 who have a passion for Potter.

As at Hogwarts, students will be sorted into houses. They’ll participate in book discussions, analyze the movie adaptations and take part in several imaginative hands-on activities.

All academy participants will have free entry to the Muggle Ball that evening.

“More and more people are recognizing the literary value of the Harry Potter series,” says Karley Adney, who is directing the Winter Muggle Academy.

Adney is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She regularly teaches a Harry Potter-themed writing class and has presented and published on both the series itself and ways in which it can be used in the classroom. She co-directed NIU’s celebrated inaugural summer Muggle Academy in 2006, and repeated her success this past summer.

“I am very excited to have Karley bring this great learning experience to students and teachers once again this year and to have a great holiday event for the community,” Pietrowski says.

Adney will lead the New Ideas Conference, where educators will discuss the literary importance of Harry Potter, learn how to introduce the series in their classrooms and develop interdisciplinary lessons. Participants will earn five continuing professional development units and also gain free entry to the Muggle Ball.

For more information, call the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming at (815) 753-5200 or e-mail pietrowski@niu.edu.

The NIU events are not endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported, directly or indirectly, by Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Harry Potter® book publishers, or J.K. Rowling and her representatives.

Students, recent alums encouraged
to apply for dream scholarship

Bradley Bond, associate dean of the Graduate School at NIU, is working to get the word out on a potential dream scholarship for top students.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship Program will award about 40 scholarships to seniors and recent graduates planning to attend graduate school for the first time starting in fall 2008. The annual scholarship competition is open to individuals who have received an undergraduate degree within five years of their projected entrance into graduate or professional school.

Awards cover the cost of tuition, living expenses, fees and books. The maximum annual award is $50,000, and the maximum length of time that a student can receive the scholarship is six years. The scholarship is transportable to any program, anywhere in the world.

“This is a great scholarship,” Bond said. “That sort of money – as much as $300,000 over six years – can take a student to almost any university.”

Students can apply at the Cooke Foundation Web site: http://www.jackkentcookefoundation.org. However, they must also be nominated by their undergraduate alma mater. A university fellowship committee will review the NIU applicants. From that pool, the committee can only nominate one NIU student or alum.

“We sent one name forward last year, but we did not get many applications,” Bond said. “We want students to be aware of this scholarship so that we have as strong a pool of candidates as possible.”

The scholarships are awarded to high achievers with financial need. Bond advised interested students to look through the materials on the Cooke Foundation Web site.

“Students will need to devote some time to the application, which requires some writing on their part,” Bond said. “It would also be helpful for them to look at the list of recipients in the last few years. They can see the type of students the foundation has recognized in the past with its scholarships.”

NIU’s internal deadline for applications is Feb. 14.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation that helps young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. Cooke was perhaps best known as the long-time owner of the Washington Redskins professional football team.

Kudos

Foreign Language Residence Program celebrates 35th anniversary

More than 70 alumni attended the 35th anniversary celebration of NIU’s Foreign Language Residence Program (FLRP), held on campus Nov. 9-10.

The weekend’s events included a reception, a tailgating tent sponsored by alum Ralph Strozza and a banquet. FLRP alums from as far as California traveled to NIU to reconnect with their friends and remember old times.

Housed in the B-Wing of Douglas Hall, the FLRP provides students with a 24-hour living-and-learning setting and has served as a national model. It is the oldest program of its kind in the Midwest and the oldest residence program at NIU. 

The program offers students the opportunity for an immersion experience in French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. On average, 50 students participate in the program each year.

The Foreign Language Residence Program was founded in 1972 by the late D. Raymond Tourville. At the Nov. 10 banquet, Tourville’s children were presented with a plaque honoring their father’s legacy.


College of Education recognized

The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) has listed NIU’s College of Education as an NCATE/ACEI nationally recognized program in elementary education.

The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) is the oldest professional organization in the world dedicated to the development of the whole child, from birth to early adolescence. Founded in 1892, ACEI is an organization of teachers, teacher educators and parents whose primary purpose is to promote the inherent rights, education, and well-being of children in the home, school and community.

ACEI publishes the award winning publication Childhood Education, as well as the Journal of Research in Childhood Education. More information is available at http://www.acei.org.

President, Mrs. Peters host annual holiday luncheon

NIU President John and Mrs. Barbara Peters have announced their annual holiday luncheon for the NIU community, a festive tradition for all friends and colleagues of the university.

This spirited event to celebrate the joy of the holiday season is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. A buffet lunch will be served.

Contact Ellen Andersen at (815) 753-1999 or via e-mail at ellena@niu.edu for more information.

Winter ‘Toolkit’ online

The Office of Assessment Services presents the Winter 2007 issue of Toolkit, its quarterly “nuts and bolts” e-newsletter. Toolkit is specifically designed to assist the NIU community with practical assessment issues in a user friendly format.

This issue features a look at the Voluntary System of Accountability approach to measuring student engagement; suggestions about how to effectively utilize survey data; and a video interview with Richard Holly, associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Also featured is a brief look at the Annual Assessment Update results, and the final installment of the Problem-Solving Analysis Protocol series.

Back issues are posted on the Assessment Services Web site under Toolkit. Contributions to the newsletter are welcome at any time. The deadline for submitting articles for the next issue is Wednesday, Jan. 2.

What’s cooking at Ellington’s?

On the menu at Ellington’s this Tuesday: Fuego, a spicy infusion of international cuisine.

Fuego features spicy corn chowder and cayenne stuffed mushrooms for starters, vegetarian stuffed tomatoes and pork tenderloin medallions with apricot salsa for entrees and chocolate tort and mini fruit goblet for desserts.

Seating is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with service until 1 p.m. The cost is $8 per person. Ellington’s is located on the main floor of the Holmes Student Center. Call (815) 753-1763 or visit www.ellingtons.niu.edu to make reservations.

Christian prayer lunch scheduled for Nov. 20

The Christian Faculty and Staff Prayer Luncheon is scheduled for noon Tuesday, Nov. 20, in the East Room of the Blackhawk Cafeteria.

Participants may bring a lunch or purchase one there. All are welcome.

Glassblowing demo, sale set for Nov. 27, 28

The NIU Chemistry Club invites the public to its annual glassblowing demonstration at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, in Faraday West 200.

It will be the last chance to see chemistry department glassblower Dan Edwards ply his trade. Edwards will retire in the coming year.

A glass sale will be held after the demonstration, when items made by Edwards will be available for purchase. They will include Christmas ornaments, icicles, dragons, hummingbirds and beaker mugs. The sale will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the lobby of Faraday West.

“This is always a popular event in the community,” said Professor David Ballantine in the NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It’s a great opportunity to get in some early holiday shopping. What’s even better is the modest pricing. Many of the items Dan makes could be sold in novelty shops for two or three times what we charge.”

Proceeds will help support various activities held by the NIU Chemistry Club. The club is a student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society and pre-professional program that promotes the chemistry field to undergraduate students.

For more information on the demonstration and sale, contact Ballantine at (815) 753-6857 or dballant@niu.edu.

Friends of NIU Libraries to host talk on Honest Abe

The Friends of NIU Libraries invites the public to attend a presentation titled, “The Interpersonal Intelligence of Abraham Lincoln,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the staff lounge on the lower level of Founders Memorial Library.

Robert Cotner, an independent scholar and member of the Caxton Club, will present the program. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call (815) 753-8091.

Civic Leadership Academy hosts workshop on conflict

Whether you are leading a team, dealing with the public or managing the cross-currents of organizational life, conflict management is an essential skill. “Understanding and Managing Conflict,” a workshop offered by NIU’s Civic Leadership Academy, will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29.

The course will cover innovative conflict techniques from the Conflict Unraveled Toolkit.

From the latest in brain behavior to new skills in bridging differences, you will be surprised and delighted by these trademarked techniques. Even if you have taken courses on active listening or win-win negotiation, you will discover new skills that will unlock your potential and make your life easier.

Andra Medea, author of “Conflict Unraveled” and the developer of the Conflict Unraveled Toolkit, will guide the group through practical hands-on learning. A faculty member at the Leadership Institute of Loyola University, Medea developed the system while teaching conflict management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Articles and interviews about her innovative techniques have appeared in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur and National Public Radio.

Registration is available online along with more information about CLA and its upcoming workshops.

Nehring Gallery extends ‘Art & Artifacts’ exhibition

The Nehring Gallery in downtown DeKalb is extending the exhibit “Art & Artifacts of WWII” through the end of November. The exhibit, which includes more than 50 WWII propaganda posters and artifacts, will be on display through Friday, Nov. 30, in lieu of the Holiday Artist’s Market.

Two rare original prints created for a poster design contest in 1942 at the New York Museum of Modern Art also are part of the exhibition. One of these winning submissions, “America, Step on It,” is a one-of-a-kind original oil painting from which later posters were based. Wright also has generously donated an original 1945 print of “7th Now … All Together” by C.C. Beall to be raffled off. Tickets for the raffle are for sale throughout the exhibition for $1 each or six for $5. All proceeds help support the Nehring Gallery.

“Art & Artifacts of WWII” is open and free to the public during regular gallery hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and by appointment.

Nehring Gallery is located on the second floor of the Nehring Center for Culture and Tourism in the historic First National Bank building on the corner of Lincoln Highway and Second Street in downtown DeKalb. The gallery is cooperatively operated by the DeKalb Park District and the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts Division of Outreach. An entrance accessible to all is located at the 111 S. Second Street entrance.

Human Resource Services to host annual blood drive

Human Resource Services will host its annual blood drive Wednesday, Dec. 5. It will be held in rooms HR166 and HR178 of the Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources section of the HR building.

The blood drive will run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Average time for blood donation is 45 minutes. 

Heartland Blood Centers will conduct the blood drive. HBC is a community blood center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides and delivers all blood products to local hospitals for total patient care. HBC works toward collecting more than 100,000 units of blood annually, and at least 1,900 donors are needed each week to meet this need. One blood donation can save up to three people since the pint is broken down into three distinct components – plasma, platelets and red blood cells.

Appointments can be made by calling (815) 753-6000. Walk-ins also are welcome, but appointments will be taken first. Donors should remember to bring a photo ID to the drive. Each donor will receive a free pair of “Drop Everything Donate Blood” boxer shorts.

LLI, Alumni Association sponsor winter field trip

NIU’s Lifelong Learning Institute and Alumni Association will sponsor a special inter-generational field trip, “Tails on the Trails,” Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

The event features Siberian Husky sled dogs in three activities: an Iditarod race demonstration, a presentation on the Iditarod’s history and the opportunity to meet and pet some friendly, lovable huskies available for adoption. In addition, there will be a one-hour guided coach tour of the beautiful winter landscape of Morton Arboretum.

This field trip is open to children 7 and older, so invite a grandchild, niece/nephew or a young friend to join you.

Details, including cost, departure times and registration, are available online.

LLI hosts trip to museum dedicated to U.S. freedoms

Join NIU’s Lifelong Learning Institute Friday, Feb. 8, for a visit to the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, the nation’s first museum dedicated to freedom and the First Amendment.

Through interactive exploration, visitors will gain a greater understanding of the struggle for freedom in the United States and the role the First Amendment plays in our daily lives.

The museum’s ideal Michigan Avenue location gives individuals the opportunity to visit some of Chicago’s other nearby museums, or enjoy shopping along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile during the afternoon.

Details, including cost, departure times and registration, are available online.

PCSW seeking nominations of outstanding women students

NIU’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women is accepting nominations for the 2008 NIU Outstanding Women Student Awards. This recognition process, begun in 1980 as the Women’s Student Leadership Awards, is intended to foster the development of leadership among women students, both graduate and undergraduate.

The nomination deadline is Monday, Dec. 17.

For details regarding eligibility, criteria and the nomination procedure, visit http://www.niu.edu/women/pcsw/osa.shtml or call (815) 753-0320.

To access the nomination form, visit http://www.niu.edu/women/pcsw/nonform.shtml.

MCTI invites participants

NIU’s next Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute will take place the week of May 12, the Office of the Provost and the Committee on Multicultural Curriculum Transformation have announced.

Full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty, instructors and supportive professional staff are invited to participate in the institute, which assists participants in incorporating multicultural perspectives and content into their courses, improving communication with students and preparing alumni to participate in a diverse workplace and society.

Qualified faculty and instructional staff interested in participating in the institute are encouraged to apply for Multicultural Curriculum Transformation stipends. Each individual selected will receive a $1,000 stipend to support transforming existing courses or developing new classes that address multiculturalism. Faculty and staff on 12-month contracts can participate in the institute but are not eligible for the stipend.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 1; the review of applications will begin Jan. 15. Information about applications for the institute is available on the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Web site at http://www.niu.edu/mct/institute/application.shtml. Applications should be submitted electronically to mcti@niu.edu.

The institute features plenary sessions by prominent specialists, focused thematic discussions by NIU faculty and students, syllabi critiques, video presentations and small group discussions. The institute’s sessions focus on topics related to race, gender, social class, disabilities and sexual orientation. Plenary sessions and some panels are open to the public; small group sessions are restricted to participants.

Approximately 220 individuals have participated in the institute since its inception, and they have benefited from opportunities to learn about multicultural issues, share experiences and ideas and establish lasting professional relationships. Participants have made a significant impact on NIU’s programs at all levels across all colleges.

Contact Nakia Brown at (815) 753-8557 or via e-mail at mcti@niu.edu for more information.

SPS seeks nominations for excellence awards

NIU’s Supportive Professional Staff Council is requesting nominations for the Presidential Supportive Professional Staff Award for Excellence.

This award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the university. All Supportive Professional Staff are eligible. If you have previously nominated an individual, please consider re-nominating them.

Four awards will be presented, and each award will be for the amount of $1,500. In addition, each recipient will receive a plaque in recognition of their accomplishments. To be eligible to receive this award, an employee must be actively employed at the time the award is presented in April 2008.

The nominator is asked to address the following topics in a letter addressed to the SPSC Awards Coordinator:

  • Significant contributions made by this individual to the university, beyond the expectations for this position. (Consider service, significance of contribution to NIU, support and professionalism.)
  • Evidence of commitment to her/his professional development.
  • Nominee’s involvement with committees or organizations at NIU, or within their profession.

A completed nomination packet consists of the Nomination Referral Form and four letters: a nomination letter and three letters of support. The support letters must address the above topics. Only these four letters will be considered for each nominee. All nominations must include the nominee’s name and nominator’s name, title and department. Awards will be announced by President Peters in February, and the awards will be presented at a reception hosted by the President, scheduled for April 1. Nominators are responsible for submitting the complete set of nomination materials.

The Nomination Referral Form, nomination letter and letters of support should be sent to Deborah Haliczer, SPSC awards coordinator, and must be received in the Office of Human Resource Services, 1515 W. Lincoln Hwy, by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5.

There will be no extensions of the deadline. Direct any questions to Deborah Haliczer at (815) 753-6039 or by e-mail at dhaliczer@niu.edu.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve
in London with NIU Alumni

Treat yourself to a New Year’s getaway in London, where old English charm and endless sightseeing await.

This Alumni Association trip includes round-trip airfare, seven nights accommodation in London, ground transportation, daily breakfast, an energetic New Year’s Eve Party, a backstage tour of the Duke of York’s Theatre and two theater performances of your choice.

There is a limited amount of time to book your holiday trip. Visit the Alumni Web site or call (815) 753-1452 soon.