Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today - August 25, 2008

Out of Asia

NIU anthropologist Dan Gebo
on quest to find primate origins

NIU anthropologist Dan Gebo is part of a small team of paleontologists who have received a grant of $350,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue expeditions in northern China in their quest to find primate origins.

Gebo is a world renowned expert on the biomechanics and evolution of primates. He and colleagues Christopher Beard of Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and Meng Jin of the American Museum of Natural History in New York traveled to China this summer for the first of three field seasons funded by the NSF grant.

“Human evolution clearly started in Africa, but we’re looking for primates in a much earlier time period, long before humans appeared on the planet,” Gebo says. “We’re basically trying to find the oldest primates on record. Most people think primates originated in Africa, but we believe the fossil record suggests that the origin and early evolution of primates may have been confined to Asia. That’s why we’ve spent the last 10 years working there.”

Very little is known about primate evolution during the Paleocene Epoch – 65 to 55 million years ago. The Paleocene was a warm period on the planet, when rainforest animals would have been highly mobile and capable of crossing land bridges to other northern continents.

“There were no ice caps at this time,” Gebo says. “In the Arctic Circle, there were actually rain forests.”

The oldest primate evidence on record is generally believed to be a fossil recovered in Morocco. It could be in excess of 55 million years old, but there is some ambiguity over its age. Gebo said he and his colleagues have identified a single fossil tooth from China that is likely as old.

“It might even be older,” he says. “We can only date our fossil by looking at the fossils of other animals in the stratified section of rock where it was recovered.” 

The researchers are focusing their work on sites in northern China, where the age of the sediment corresponds with the Paleocene. This past summer’s fieldwork yielded a number of fossils but no primate bones, Gebo said.

Fossils of Paleocene-era primates are particularly difficult to find because they were diminutive creatures. In 2000, Gebo led a research team that announced the fossil discovery of 45 million-year-old, thumb-length primates. Recovered from the fissure-filled sediments of a limestone quarry in China, the fossils represent the smallest known primates, with one species estimated to have weighed only 10 grams.

Small change

NIU physicists help shed light on properties
of superconducting nanostrips, nanowires

NIU physicists are shedding new light on nanoscale superconducting materials, demonstrating how their properties change when the materials are reduced to a single dimension.

Recent NIU graduate Jiong Hua, now a joint NIU/Argonne National Laboratory postdoctoral research associate, is the lead author on the latest research, published in the Aug. 15 issue of the prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters.

Other authors on the paper include NIU Physics Professor Zhili Xiao and his Ph.D. students Suhong Yu and Umeshkumar Patel, as well as Argonne scientists.

“It is extremely difficult to publish an article in Physical Review Letters, which has strict criteria not only for the importance and validation but also the broad interest of the results,” Xiao said.

“This research article is based on Jiong’s dissertation work and was submitted while he was still a student here,” Xiao added. “I am very proud of him. Before Jiong joined the physics department, he had been specializing in electrical engineering at NIU. However, he became one of the best physics graduate students and was the first recipient of the NIU/Argonne Distinguished Graduate Fellowship.”

The behavior of materials at increasingly smaller length scales is a dominant theme in modern physical science. The last decade has seen the discovery of qualitatively new behaviors in metals, in semiconductors and in magnets as scientists’ ability to fabricate and probe samples at small-length scales evolves.

The team of researchers studied how the properties of a superconducting material change at the nanoscale. When a magnetic field is applied to isotropic materials at normal-size scales, their properties remain unchanged with changing field direction. But if a material’s dimensions are reduced, for example to an incredibly thin film, its properties become anisotropic, which means they depend on the direction of an applied magnetic field.

Because thin film is easy to fabricate, theories on anisotropic properties of a thin film have been tested intensively. However, very little research has been done on the properties of materials with two reduced dimensions, such as nanostrips and nanowires, because they are extremely difficult to create.

The world-class nanofabrication facilities at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials enabled the scientists to study the physical properties in strips and wires. Through collaborating with Argonne scientists, the NIU research team developed a new approach to achieve high quality superconducting nanostrips by utilizing the advantages of both electron-beam lithography and focused-ion-beam milling techniques.

“Our team studied samples of the transition metal superconductor niobium,” Hua says. “We found that, with a one-dimensional strip, the angular dependence of the resistance and the transition from normal state to superconducting state differs from that of a three-dimensional bulk sample and a two-dimensional thin film in the presence of a magnetic field.”

The team interpreted this confinement effect as a size-dependent exclusion of the magnetic field by a superconductor at the nanoscale.

“The research is important in the field of nanotechnology,” Xiao said.

“Small superconducting wires and strips are highly desirable as potential interconnects in future electronic nanodevices since they circumvent the damaging heat produced by energy dissipation in a normal nanoconductor,” he added. “Information on their anisotropic properties in the presence of a magnetic field is crucial in designing the devices because current-flowing electric circuits produce a magnetic field.”

CHANCE’s Leroy Mitchell to retire

Each spring, NIU’s CHANCE program hosts a reception for its students who achieved a 2.5 grade point average or better in the fall semester.

Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and even “street folks from the neighborhood” flock to the Carl Sandburg Auditorium to hear the names called and to watch the shining stars walk to the stage. They cheer. They weep. They glow with gratitude.

The Rev. Leroy Mitchell, director of CHANCE since June 16, 1980, loves it all.

“They put on Sunday clothes and come to the university for the day,” Mitchell says. “It’s always good to see their faces and to see the possibilities they see for their children.”

Mitchell officially retires Friday, although he has pledged to remain at CHANCE through the fall semester while a search for a new director takes place.

All are welcome to an open house celebration in his honor from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.

“You can’t replace Leroy Mitchell,” says Shevawn Eaton, director of NIU’s ACCESS program. “We can certainly fill the position with someone who will be competent and do a good job, but as far as the essence of what Leroy is – his warmth, his caring, his generosity of spirit – you can’t replace that. There’s only one.”

Mitchell came to NIU from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., where he worked in a similar educational opportunity program.

He already knew about CHANCE and its unparalleled institutional funding and commitment. The simple opportunity to avoid the annual fight for federal dollars made it a dream job.

But the “phenomenal concept” drew him to DeKalb as well.

CHANCE recruits students, most of whom never thought they could come to college, and offers them the comprehensive support of counselors and tutors from Day One through Graduation Day. Many are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

All are tested during orientation or in the days just before school begins to assess their strengths and weaknesses in English, math, literacy and communication/speech. Most will take at least two of those fundamental classes; some take all four and some take none.

Professors who teach the four CHANCE fundamentals are “past outstanding,” Mitchell says. At his urging, some have presented at conferences.

The number of counselors has doubled from five to 10, and members of the CHANCE staff continue to try any idea put forth that might improve their services.

Of course, there are numerous success stories. Some CHANCE graduates are doctors, lawyers and even teacher. Mitchell chuckles at an e-mail from one alumna who politely declines an invitation to speak to new students because of her busy schedule: She’s working in Washington, D.C. and “making six figures.”

Another alum came to CHANCE after his priest pleaded with Mitchell.

“He told me, ‘He needs to get out of here or he’ll be dead in a year,’ ” Mitchell says. “And then he said, ‘He doesn’t know how smart he is.’ ”

That proved true. The student earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, remained here to complete master’s degrees in biology and history and then finished a doctorate in biology at the University of Illinois. He’s now a professor at Yale University.

“It really is gratifying. These kids come through so much in life, and they just grow here,” Mitchell says. “It really is a credit to the university. If we can educate these kids – these disadvantaged kids who come from the very bottom – then we can start to see some changes in society and culture. It’s past satisfying.”

Mitchell entered the world of educational opportunity at State University of New York-Buffalo. He was teaching junior high school when his alma mater offered him a job in financial aid for its new educational opportunity program.

Their stories reflected Mitchell’s memories.

“I identified with a lot of the young people,” he says. “I saw people trying to make a change in their situation, and wow, that was very exciting to me.”

Born in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., Mitchell became a part of the foster system. His foster parents, both of whom had third-grade educations, moved during the Great Depression years to White Plains, N.Y., from the South in search of a better way of life.

Mitchell, the next-to-youngest of the couple’s 12 foster children, was the only one adopted.

He’s carried on the good works of his parents: Mitchell and his wife, Veatrice, are parents of four. Three were adopted from the more than 50 foster children who’ve come through the Mitchell home.

The Mitchells also maintain a house of the Lord. They founded the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church – located at 1201 Twombly Road, it was DeKalb’s first African-American congregation – and Mitchell remains the pastor 21 years later. He’s managed to squeeze his pastoral duties into his lunch breaks.

Both jobs are a ministry, he says.

But after more than 40 years of 40-hour weeks, he’s ready to slow down and maybe travel. He’s also considering an offer to teach seminary courses as long as, he says with a laugh, that it doesn’t require 40 hours a week.

And, as Barack Obama makes his run for the White House, Mitchell says young African-Americans are dynamically “seeing the possibilities of what can come their way with education.”

“These kids are what I’ll miss most, watching their struggles to break out of cycles that are really not their fault – they just inherited them,” he says. “The most rewarding thing is when a young person says, ‘Thank you.’ They’re excited to be here, and we hope to keep them excited. It’s important they do well.”

NIU will miss Mitchell, Eaton says.

“This whole retirement has made me realize just what an incredible impact Leroy has had on so many people in the 28 years he’s been in DeKalb – as director of the CHANCE program, as a minister, as an adviser, as a friend,” she says. “Students have so many beautiful things to say about him and the influence he’s had on their lives.”

U.S. News ranks NIU public administration
third nationally for city management

The public administration program at NIU, which has produced about one -third of all Illinois city managers, continues to shine in national rankings.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) program third nationally in the specialty field of city management and urban policy.

That’s one notch better than NIU’s previous position in the magazine ranking of graduate schools. It’s also ahead of programs at all public and private institutions in Illinois and at such prestigious schools as USC, Syracuse and the University of North Carolina.

“Public Administration continues to be one of our premier programs at NIU,” said Provost Raymond Alden. “It’s also a program that has had a tremendous positive effect on the quality of life for people in the northern Illinois region and beyond.”

A division of the NIU Department of Political Science, the MPA program is one of the oldest in the state and is recognized internationally for its excellence. NIU faculty and alumni have played a major role in efforts to professionalize municipal staffs statewide and advance the national good government movement.

The university has a long tradition of working closely with Illinois communities, including the nearby Chicago suburbs, which are natural consumers of the MPA program’s graduates. NIU alums are at the administrative helms of such cities as Bartlett, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Deerfield, Hoffman Estates, Lake in the Hills, Oak Brook, Oak Brook Terrace, Rock Island, Rockford, Schaumburg, St. Charles, Streator, Warrenville, Western Springs and Willowbrook.

“Our program has flourished, thanks to strong efforts by our faculty, quality students, support from the university administration and support from our alumni, who have been very successful,” said Distinguished Teaching Professor Gerald Gabris, director of the NIU Division of Public Administration.

The U.S. News rankings, which came out this past spring, also ranked NIU’s MPA program 13th nationally in the specialty of public finance and budgeting.

“Our program is considered to be a well-rounded, with major strengths in urban management and financial management,” Gabris said. “Most of our students want to be city administrators. That’s our calling card.

“We also hope to further develop the non-profit management component of our program, for students who want to work for non-governmental organizations,” he added. “The demand is there.”

The Division of Public Administration boasts one of the top internship programs in the country, placing future city managers in suburban internship experiences. Throughout its history, the MPA program has had nearly a 100 percent placement rate. That means that within six months of graduation, nearly all of the graduates have landed jobs.

While job placements can’t be accomplished through accolades alone, the U.S. News rankings serve as important indicators to employers. They are also extremely competitive.

“We compete quite well against universities that spend a lot of money on their programs. Most have developed entire schools of public administration,” Gabris said. “We hope to eventually move in that direction as well, creating a school of public and international affairs at NIU.”

Students, parents, volunteers enjoy smooth Opening Day

After Opening Day 2007, any opening day without tornado sirens would have been an upgrade.

Well, organizers of the 2008 event got their wish and a whole lot more. The worst that the gray skies of Aug. 21 could muster was an occasional half-hearted sprinkle, and those few rain drops were not enough to mar one of the smoothest Opening Days on record.

“People were amazed at how quickly they were getting from the parking lot to their rooms,” said Mike Stang, executive director of Housing and Dining, who spearheaded the committee that oversaw the event. “It was a nice steady stream of students throughout the day. We never had a really big back-up of cars on the road or students in front of the halls.”

In all, more than 3,300 students arrived at the residence halls and got settled into their new homes. Most of those were whisked from the parking lot to their rooms with hardly any delay.

“From the moment we arrived in front of Douglas Hall, our car was unloaded and we were up in my son’s room fully functioning in less than 30 minutes,” e-mailed one pleased parent. “When I say fully functioning, I mean clothes put away, supplies put away, bed made and my son felt so comfortable and ‘at home’ that he basically said there wasn’t really any reason we needed to stick around, he was just fine. That says a lot, especially entering into a whole new adventure in your life.”

The key to such success, Stang said, was the 1,500 volunteers who made the day run smoothly.

“The volunteers were great,” Stang said. “We have reached the point where a lot of the faculty and staff who come out are veterans of the process – we even have students and annuitants who are starting to volunteer year after year. All of those experienced hands really pay off.”

The success of the day continued long after the last of the 140 golf carts used to haul student belongings had been parked and put away.

Attendance at the Great Huskie Bash, the welcome barbecue in Central Park, was well attended with an increase in both student attendees and vendors, Stang said. Later that night, more than 400 students attended a “block party” sponsored by the Residence Hall Association in the Chick Evans Field House where they danced, played laser tag and got acquainted.

“It was great to see everything go off without a hitch,” Stang said. “We don’t have a whole lot of rites of passage on campus, but I think Opening Day has become one of those. It’s a great way to welcome students to the NIU community. We are very grateful to the hundreds and hundreds of students, faculty and staff who help us make it work each year.”

In all, the day was a dramatic improvement over a year earlier, when torrential rains washed out not only part of the move-in process but also the Huskie Bash and, ultimately, all of the following day as campus was closed because of flooding.

NIU Foundation seeks proposals for Venture Grants

The NIU Foundation is calling for proposals for its annual Venture Grants, which be awarded this fall. 

This year, the Foundation has altered its Venture Grant program to support the university’s strategic planning initiatives. Grant awards will be selected based on their potential to advance two of the plan’s major imperatives.

  • Preserve, strengthen and extend NIU’s teaching and learning environment
  • Strengthen and extend NIU’s global/regional impact

“We recognize the tremendous efforts invested by the academic community in the strategic planning process and wish to provide grant funding to help gain traction on important new initiatives,” Foundation President Mallory M. Simpson said.

In FY 2009, the Foundation expects to make just two awards for a total of $50,000. 

New FY Application Schedule

To be considered for FY2009 grant awards, proposals must be received in the Foundation Office in Altgeld Hall 135 by Monday, Oct. 6.

All faculty and staff from units within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, the Division of Administration and University Outreach, and Intercollegiate Athletics are eligible to apply. Awards will be announced in mid-December.

Even with the grant program’s new focus and direction, one thing remains the same: the NIU Foundation’s goal of supporting NIU faculty and staff in their commitment to excellence in teaching, learning, and in effecting positive change in the larger community.

Applications and forms are available online. For more information, contact Judy Schneider at (815) 753-1389 or e-mail

Community School to debut children’s choir

August 25, 2008

Calling all young singers: The NIU Community School of the Arts debuts a new children’s choir for ages 8 to13 beginning in September.

Mary Lynn Doherty, faculty member in the NIU School of Music, is the choir director. Assisting and accompanying is Travis Erikson, choir director for the DeKalb High School.

The choir meets from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Sept. 17 in Room 171 of the Music Building. No audition is required.

The mission of the CSA Children’s Chorus is to develop the musical skills and understandings of children in the greater DeKalb area through the study and performance of high quality choral music of different genres. Through the choral music experience, students will build important musical and life skills.

“I enjoy seeing the excitement and joy children can have when they sing together in an ensemble. It’s inspiring to be a part of the process of introducing, learning and perfecting great music,” Doherty said. “Giving a good performance is important, but the day-to-day rehearsal process is often where you see the most growth and development in the kids.”

A children’s music specialist, Doherty has taught in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois at the K-12 and university levels. Most recently, she was director of music education and associate conductor of the Chicago Choir Academy, a charter school in Chicago. This choir school, founded by the Chicago Children’s Choir, is the only public choir school of its kind in the country.

Doherty plans to build on the past two summer choral camps she has organized at NIU in 2007 and 2008. She also will build on the work of Randy and Carol Stubbs, founders of the Northern Illinois Children’s Chorus that was retired several years ago.

“When children work together toward a common goal, they learn valuable life skills that remain with them as they grow. Not only will they develop strong musical skills; through this experience, children will have a better understanding of the world and their place in it,” Doherty said.

“Singing is an expressive activity, and allows for children to communicate with others in positive ways,” she added. “We are lucky to have excellent music programs in our schools; however, this choir will give students wonderful musical opportunities that they will not get anywhere else.”

Doherty said children will enjoy singing in the chorus because they will have the opportunity to sing interesting and challenging music, give special performances and meet other performers, all in a supportive and encouraging environment. 

The CSA Children’s Chorus is one of many ensembles and classes offered by the NIU Community School of the Arts in fall. The program is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Teachers are faculty and students in the NIU School of Music and Art. 

For more information, call Renee Page at (815) 753-1450 or visit


Brian Fuchs, a building service foreman in Building Services, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, in Aurora. He was 59.

FIT Club begins for fall

FIT classes being Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Those interested in joining FIT, or continuing their membership, should report at noon Tuesday, Aug. 26, to the FIT office (Room 127 of Anderson Hall) for medical screenings. Screenings must be completed before participating in any activities. If Tuesday is not convenient, call (815) 753-0335 to schedule an appointment.

Community School of the Arts
ready for fall classes, ensembles

Classes, lessons and ensembles in music and art begin in September at the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Programming is designed for children, teens and adults. Private lessons are available on all instruments, as well as in art and theater. Teachers are NIU students and faculty as well as community teachers.

The public is invited to the annual open house from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, to learn more about the many arts opportunities available in the NIU Community School of the Arts. The event is held in the lobby of the concert hall in the NIU Music Building.

Free parking for the open house is available in the lot immediately adjacent to the Music Building on the south side.

Information and registration – 3 to 5 p.m.

Staff and teachers are available to answer questions about music lessons, classes and ensembles scheduled for fall and spring and to take registrations.

Free sample lessons – 3 to 5 p.m.

Free 15-minute sample music lessons are available. To reserve a slot, call the office today at (815) 753-1450. There is a limit of one free sample lesson per person. 

Free sample classes – 3:05 - 4:05 p.m.

3:05 to 3:20 – Around the World Class for ages 3 to 8
3:30 to 3:45 – Prelude Class for ages 1 to 3 and Piano Players Class for ages 6 to 8
3:50 to 4:05 – Development Class for ages 3 to 5

More information about these classes is available at or by calling (815) 753-1450. Please call by August 25 to reserve space; there is no limit to the number of sampler classes, but a parent must accompany each child. 

Talk – 4:10 p.m.

“Is Suzuki Right For You?” by Ann Montzka-Smelser. Learn more about this approach for teaching a young child to play violin, piano or guitar. Montzka-Smelser is the director of the Suzuki violin program at NIU. The talk takes place in the Recital Hall of the NIU Music Building.

Scholarship aid is available for students 18 and younger in financial need. Application forms are available by calling the office or in the display area outside Room 132 of the Music Building. The deadline for applications for fall scholarships is Friday, Aug. 29.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University. More than 600 community people from nearly 50 towns and cities travel to DeKalb for lessons and classes.

Application forms are available by calling the office at (815) 753-1450 or online at The NIU Community School of the Arts is located in Room 132 of the Music Building.

Open labs offered to teach about MyNIU Faculty Center

As the new semester gets under way, the NIUConnect/MyNIU team reminds faculty and instructors that the new student information system is up and running for Fall 2008. All faculty and instructors assigned to a Fall 2008 course now have access to view their class rosters via the faculty self-service page in MyNIU

Learn more about the Self-Service Faculty Center by attending one of the MyNIU Faculty Center open labs being held in Room 100 of Altgeld Hall from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Sept. 3, and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4. Faculty are invited to come and go in an informal lab setting; stay for a few minutes or longer to become familiar with the MyNIU Faculty Center pages.

A user guide for faculty self-service can be found at, or call the ITS Helpdesk at (815) 753-8100 for additional assistance.

Kishwaukee Concert Band to begin fall rehearsals

The Greater Kishwaukee Area Concert Band will begin rehearsals Wednesday, Sept. 10, for its seventh season.

Rehearsals are held every Wednesday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Huntley Middle School Band Room, located at the corner of South Seventh and Taylor streets in DeKalb. John Hansen is the conductor for the all-volunteer band.

The band is open to anyone 18 or older who has played a wind or percussion instrument in the past and enjoys keeping up their skills. No auditions are necessary.

Four concerts will be presented this year: Sunday, Oct. 19; Sunday, Nov. 30; Sunday, March 15; and Saturday, May 2.

For more information, call Sue at (815) 899-4867 or John at (815) 825-2350.

Nominations sought for Lincoln Laureate

An outstanding undergraduate senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is chosen annually to receive the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award. The University Scholarships Committee is requesting assistance in identifying the student graduating during 2008-2009 (August 2008, December 2008 or May 2009), who will be NIU’s recipient of this year’s award.

Lincoln Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in both curricular and co-curricular activities. The NIU Student Laureate should have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and should have demonstrated leadership in extracurricular activities.

The person selected will represent the university at one of the most distinguished gatherings in the state, a special ceremony held in late October or early November in the House of Representatives of the Illinois State Capitol. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich (or his designee), president of the academy, will present each Student Laureate with a Lincoln Academy Medallion and a check for $150. The ceremony will be followed by a luncheon. Nominator(s) of the recipient also will be asked to represent the university at this event.

Please be selective in your nomination: The person selected from NIU to receive this award should be the university’s most outstanding undergraduate senior student.

The nomination form and any supplementary pages should be returned to the Office of Scholarship Coordination/Scholarship Services, 245K Swen Parson Hall, by noon Friday, Sept. 12, for the nomination to be considered by the selection committee. 

Community School offers Art Express on Saturdays

The NIU Community School of the Arts’ popular Art Express is free to children of staff, faculty and students. This class begins Saturday, Sept. 13, and runs for five weeks. The class is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m.

This innovative and hands-on program encourages creative thinking in children ages 4 to 12. Teachers are students in an advanced art education class working under School of Art faculty supervision.

More information and a registration form are available online at or by calling (815) 753-1450. Students and employees of NIU should indicate their status at the top of the form. Although the tuition fee of $30 is waived for children of NIU staff, faculty and students, a $15 program registration fee and the form should be sent to the NIU Community School of the Arts in Room 132 of the Music Building.

Alumni Association launches new membership program

The NIU Alumni Association has launched a new membership program. Open to alumni and friends, the program is an excellent way to show support for, and pride in, NIU. Members enjoy many benefits on campus and in the community.

Membership opportunities are available at two levels: Cardinal & Black and Legacy. Visit for more information.

Campus women’s groups host ‘Girls, Grills and Games’ event

The Women’s Resource Center, Women’s Studies and other campus women’s organizations will sponsor “Girls, Grills and Games” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

All campus women (and men as well) are invited to the lawn near the Women’s Resource Center, 105 Normal Road, for good food off the grill and fun games. Call (815) 753-0320 for more information.

Knitters invited to gather

Campus knitters – from rookies to crochet experts and everyone in between – are invited to the Fireside Lounge of Neptune Central from 9 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, for creativity, conversation and snacks.

Upcoming dates are Sept. 25, Oct. 30 and Nov. 20. Co-sponsors are the Women’s Resource Center and Alpha Phi Omega. Call (815) 753-0320 for more information.

Alumni Association plans travel to Hawaii, Northern Ireland

NIU’s Alumni Association has several exciting travel destinations coming up.

Celebrate the winter holiday season with a Hawaiian Escape. Warm trade winds and a traditional Hawaiian “Aloha!” await guests on this three-island touring itinerary. The islands of Maui, Hawaii and Oahu offer a vast diversity of landscapes, natural beauty and attractions.

Travelers also are invited to discover the jewels of Northern Ireland next spring. Don’t miss out on the charm and the zest that encompasses the Emerald Isle. Northern Ireland brings back the joy of touring with breathtaking Irish landscapes, historical forts and palaces, famous coastlines and ancient accounts that mingle myth and legend.

Visit for more information about these travel destinations.

Community Dance School opens registration for fall

Fall registration for the Community Dance School at NIU begins this week. Classes meet weekly from Monday, Sept. 8, through Saturday, Dec. 13.

The school is sponsored by the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education and is directed by Diane Rimmer. The Community Dance School’s mission is to reach all members of the NIU community and surrounding areas, teach fundamentals of various dance forms and to allow each individual to expand upon their own abilities. Its main focus is to explore the joy of movement through dance, instilling a strong appreciation and understanding for it.

Classes begin at age 4 and continue through teen and adult. Classes offered include creative movement, ballet, tap, Irish step dancing, jazz/hip-hop, modern as well as ballroom, Latin and swing. Students are taught by NIU faculty and instructors who hold degrees in dance education, have danced professionally or who are currently dance performance majors at NIU.

NIU faculty member Barbara Heimerdinger will teach the ballroom, Latin and swing classes.

Registration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, in Anderson Hall Studio, Room 130. For more information, call (815) 753-0277 or (815) 756-4092.

New tech development program
funds NIU’s commercial inventions

NIU innovators have less than a month to submit proposals to the Technology Transfer Office for the further development of inventions for entry into the commercial marketplace.

Friday, Sept. 5, is the deadline to apply for up to $20,000 to support development of novel applied technologies which have the near-term potential for licensing and commercialization.

The Technology Development Fund is a new program offered by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies to

  • promote further development of technologies with potential commercial appeal and for which the university has applied for intellectual property protection, or
  • expand research on promising new technologies near invention disclosure stage that boast short-term commercial potential but whose applications are not yet fully developed.

Exact funding guidelines and applications are available online at

The fund, which does not support basic research, has a limit of $50,000 for Fiscal Year 2009. Money awarded is available for up to one year and is not renewable. The proposed work must have a reasonable chance of being accomplished in one year.

Awards can be used only for technical support, supplies and contracted services directed to the funded projects. The money is not meant to supplement investigator’s salaries.

Members of the university’s Intellectual Property Committee will review the submitted proposals for commercial feasibility with the assistance of technical evaluators and will make recommendations for award to the interim vice president for research.

For more information, contact Rita Yusko, acting manager of the Technology Transfer Office, at (815) 753-9281 or