Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today Extra - January 16, 2008

Chicago consultant, NIU alumnus
appointed to NIU governing board

John R. Butler, founding partner in the Chicago-based strategic consulting firm Butler-Anderson, LLC, and holder of two NIU degrees, has been appointed to the governing board of his alma mater.   

Butler, 38, brings a long history of NIU involvement to his new role on the university’s Board of Trustees:  He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern; served two terms as student regent under NIU’s previous governing body, the Board of Regents; and spent seven years as an assistant professor and director of forensics in NIU’s Department of Communication. 

“We are delighted to welcome John back to NIU in this important role,” President John Peters said. “He is a passionate advocate for students and for programs that strengthen NIU’s teaching and learning environment. His experience in public higher education and professional work in organizational advocacy will serve NIU very well at a critical time in our university’s history.”

Butler earned a bachelor’s in political science with a minor in black studies and master’s in rhetorical studies, both from NIU. He went on to earn his doctorate in rhetoric and communication with an emphasis in public argument at the University of Pittsburgh. His current work focuses on strategic planning and advocacy for large, multi-employer organizations such as labor unions, contractor associations, benefit funds and apprenticeship programs.

“I am very grateful to be so welcomed by my fellow board members and President Peters, and excited about the opportunity to use my background and skills in support of my alma mater,” Butler said.

Butler said he is very interested in and encouraged by NIU’s strategic planning process – particularly in its emphasis on teaching and learning. “Our students expect excellent teaching, and, as a former student and faculty member at NIU, I understand this expectation and the challenges faculty members face when striving to provide the best they have to offer,” he said. 

“Encouraging quality interaction among students and between professors and students requires ongoing dialogue about the nature of high-quality learning, and how students and professors can maximize the potential of curricular and co-curricular strategies for learning.”

Butler is equally passionate about diversity as a core institutional value: While serving as student regent in the early 1990s, he spearheaded efforts to infuse the undergraduate curriculum with broader perspectives. Among the results of that campaign is NIU’s Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, a program that celebrated its 14th year in 2007.

“I am a person who believes that culture matters – that race matters, that national origin matters, that gender and sexual orientation matter – and NIU has distinguished itself by endeavoring to talk about these issues in and out of the classroom, and working to make all people feel welcome on the NIU campus,” he said.

To that end, Butler also helped lead a campaign in the late 1990s that called on the City of DeKalb to end housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and later gender identity. The city’s Human Rights Commission ultimately adopted such changes to its ordinance – a move that helped NIU win national recognition in 2006 as one of the country’s most-welcoming universities for gay and lesbian students. 

“Public universities play such an important role in our society,” Butler said. “People look to institutions of higher education for leadership on a wide range of issues, and NIU has always accepted that responsibility in a very forward-thinking way. It is one of the many reasons I feel so honored by this appointment, and I pledge to do my best to uphold that tradition.”

Trustee Butler’s resume is available on the NIU Board of Trustees Web site at

Annual MLK peace march scheduled for Thursday

The NIU and DeKalb communities are invited to participate Thursday, Jan. 17, in the 19th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. March for Peace and Justice, beginning at 4 p.m. at Stevenson Towers North.

The march will end at the Holmes Student Center with BET’s Jeff “Cousin Jeff” Johnson delivering the keynote address in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium. A reception will follow the event in the Holmes Student Center Art Gallery.

Marchers are encouraged to carry their organizations’ banners during the march. The event is sponsored by the NIU NAACP chapter, Campus Activities Board and Student Association.

Operating Staff seeks nominees
for Outstanding Service Awards

Nominations for the Outstanding Service Award are now being accepted.

Presented each year to up to four NIU Civil Service employees, the objective of this award program is to recognize individual Civil Service employees who have demonstrated outstanding service and have made significant contributions to the university community.

A $1,500 award, which is considered taxable wages and subject to payroll deductions, and a plaque will be presented to each recipient of the award at the Annual Operating Staff Service Awards Banquet in Spring.

Nomination packets must be received in Human Resource Services no later than 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28.

For details, including nomination forms, visit

NIU Athletics announces faculty/staff night at Convo

NIU Athletics will host faculty/staff night at the Convocation Center as the Huskies battle Miami (Ohio) with tip-off set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30.

All NIU faculty and staff are invited to purchase up to two tickets for only $2 each, and cheer on the men’s basketball team. Call the Convocation Center ticket office at (815) 752-6800 and mention this promotion to receive the special ticket price.

CLA workshop will help leaders appreciate personnel

The most expensive and expansive asset of a governmental organization is its human capital.

“Managing Personnel and the Human Capital of Your Organization” is a two-part workshop that will help leaders better appreciate and under­stand this strategic component of any service organization. Part I is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 31.

The sessions will explore and explain why the management of governmental employ­ees is somewhat unique. How does employee recruitment, selection and retention actually work? Do these techniques matter? How do you find and select the right people? What are the ramifications if you don’t? Why are management employees different? Are they worth the money?

Leaders will learn to appreciate the impact of described but misunderstood concepts such as organizational culture and silent leadership. Are all the pieces or your organization in place, or in the right place?

Greg Kuhn, senior research associate with NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies, will present the workshops. Part II is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 14.

Registration and more information about CLA and its upcoming workshops are available online.