Northern Illinois University

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Northern Today - January 22, 2008

NIU gets $1 million NSF grant to take
45 science teachers on field trips to Mexico

Over the next five years, NIU will take about 45 middle and high school science teachers on geologic field trips to Mexico, aiming to bring back culturally relevant and exciting lessons for Hispanic students.

The National Science Foundation is providing more than $1 million in funding for the effort through its Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences program. NIU piloted the Mexican field experience in 2006.

As many as 15 teachers from school districts with large Hispanic populations will be accepted into the program for field experiences in the summers of 2008, 2010 and 2012. They will travel to either the Yucatán Peninsula or the Mt. Popocatépetl volcanic region near Mexico City.

The NIU project seeks to diversify the professional experiences of science and social studies teachers who play a large role in the academic lives of young Hispanics.

Hispanics are the largest, fastest-growing and youngest ethnic group in the country. Yet they have been the most underrepresented in science and math courses at the high school and college levels. They are particularly underrepresented in the geosciences.

“To inspire the next generation of scientists, teachers must reach out to young students with culturally relevant lessons,” said NIU Professor Kathy Kitts, who is co-director of the field experience project and also coordinates certification of science teachers in the university’s Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences.

The application period for this summer’s trip to the Yucatán will open in February. The summer program runs 21 days, from June 25 to July 15, and includes training on campus at NIU before and after a two-week trip to Mexico.

Teachers will meet with Mexican educators and top scientists, while touring regional geologic features and conducting field activities. Teachers also will be required to participate in six workshops throughout the course of the year and in a follow-up course on the NIU campus in the summer of 2009. The follow-up components will further delve into diversity issues, literacy and assessment techniques and identity development of students and teachers.

Each participant will earn six graduate-level course hours and receive a minimum stipend of $2,000.

“NIU is providing a number of educational support services to ensure that participants will be able to implement newly learned lessons and strategies in the classroom,” Kitts said. “We’re confident based on our pilot program that the teachers will be successful. They have the potential to reach an exponential number of students, hopefully providing inspiration to pursue careers in science.”

Teachers who participated in the 2006 pilot program traveled to the Mt. Popocatépetl volcano, which looms more than 17,000 feet over the Mexico City region’s 20 million inhabitants. There the teachers conducted geologic work and evaluated the risk of future ash falls, lava flows and mudflows.

The group also participated in discussions on local water issues and natural disaster risks with faculty from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. The field experience additionally included visits to Cholula, the largest pyramid in the Americas, the bottom of which is covered by a lahar (mudflow); to Los Humeros, a geothermal field with baths fed by sulfurous springs; and to Puebla Central School, the equivalent of a U.S. middle school.

“I can show students I care, I can tell them I care, but studying their homeland made them believe that I care,” said Amie Thompson, an eighth-grade science and social studies teacher who participated in the pilot. “I demonstrated my genuine interest in them and their culture.”

Thompson said about 90 percent of her students at Simmons Middle School in Aurora are from Mexico or of Mexican descent.

“When we discuss volcanoes and other earth science topics, I can refer to knowledge gained on my trip, and everyone sits up a little straighter,” Thompson said. “They make connections they wouldn’t make if I weren’t connecting with them. The difference is amazing. They are anxious to tell me about their homes and to hear about the experiences I had.”

Participants in theYucatán field experience will travel to the Spanish colonial town of Valladolid and embark from there on a tour of geologic features in the Yucatán Peninsula. Those features will include karst topography, characterized by caves and cenotes (freshwater lakes occupying depressions in limestone), as well as lagoons, salt pans and both healthy and threatened beaches, reefs and wetlands.

The group also will visit a road cut that makes visible a blanket of rubble produced by a large asteroid that collided with the planet and is believed to have caused the extinction of dinosaurs.

“The Yucatán is a beautiful area. Actually, it’s what Illinois might have looked like 450 million years ago,” said NIU geologist Eugene Perry, co-director of the field experience project. He has conducted research in the Yucatán for more than two decades.

“The eastern coast of Mexico from Cancun south was largely a remote area until about 1970, when it started to become a major tourist destination,” he added. “We hope to give teachers a feel for Latin culture while also examining the impact of population growth and the accompanying environmental problems. In the end, they’ll build their own personal curriculums that reflect Mexican geology, as opposed to typical textbooks in this country that focus on U.S. geology.”

Other NIU faculty members participating in the project include Francine Falk-Ross (literacy education), M. Cecil Smith (educational psychology), Lisa Yamagata-Lynch (cohort development), all in the College of Education, as well as Penny Billman (internal assessment) in University Outreach.

For more information on the Mexican field experience, contact Kathy Kitts at or Eugene Perry at

Science magazine’s top breakthroughs
of 2007 include NIU connection

The work of a team of scientists that included NIU physicist Michel van Veenendaal is cited by Science magazine as being among the top 10 scientific research breakthroughs of 2007.

Working at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source, a facility that produces the most powerful X-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere, the researchers shed light on the interplay of electrons at the interface between ferromagnetic and superconducting oxides.

The surprising findings uncover a potential path for manipulating superconductivity at the atomic scale, opening up a new area of investigation into ways of designing nanoscale superconductors. The work by van Veenendaal’s team and several other research teams examining similar phenomena came in at No. 5 on the Science magazine list of breakthroughs of the year.

“Sixty years ago, semiconductors were a scientific curiosity,” the magazine noted. “Then researchers tried putting one type of semiconductor up against another, and suddenly we had diodes, transistors, microprocessors, and the whole electronic age. Startling results this year may herald a similar burst of discoveries at the interfaces of a different class of materials: transition metal oxides.”

The magazine goes on to say, “With almost limitless variation in these complex oxides, properties not yet dreamed of may be found where they meet.”

Van Veenendaal’s team was led by Jacques Chakhalian of the University of Arkansas. Their research was originally published in the November issue of Science (Orbital Reconstruction and Covalent Bonding at an Oxide Interface).

“We discovered that the electrons at the interface are not really where you expect them to be,” van Veenendaal says. “I am currently trying to find out whether we can obtain orbital and spin switching at the interface of transition-metal oxides. I expect that many more exciting effects will be found at the boundaries between these materials.”

Japanese artist brings glimpse of spring to wintry DeKalb

“I watched the cherry blossoms falling, and I thought, ‘I wonder if they’ll bloom again next year.’ ” – artist’s statement, Ayomi Yoshida

Volunteers sit, stand and kneel throughout the Rotunda Gallery of NIU’s Art Museum, carefully pushing tiny squares of razor-thin paper onto sage-green walls.

Each of the 100,000 squares holds a sakura cherry blossom hand-printed with mica, a silicate mineral that makes each blossom shimmer. The paper itself, called gampi, is translucent and delicate with a silky quality.

The blossoms appear so real, and the installation itself seems so enveloping, that the gallery feels like a tranquil park or orchard.

Guiding the artists from the wall are dark branches, made of vinyl but digitally reproduced from paintings. Guiding the artists from alongside and behind is Ayomi Yoshida, whose vision and creation transports her and its visitors to that lovely Japanese spring only 10 months ago.

Yoshida’s fascinating installation, “Yedoensis,” opens Thursday, Jan. 24, and will remain in bloom through Friday, March 7. A gala reception begins at 4:30 p.m. The title is the scientific name for sakura trees, which were cultivated from wild cherry trees in the Edo period (1603-1868).

Then, as in life, the blossoms will disappear.

“She wants people to be struck by the transient beauty of the installation, in the same way as they would by cherry blossoms. When cherry blossoms flower, it’s like a sudden blizzard of soft petals,” said Helen Nagata, an assistant professor in NIU’s School of Art, translating for Yoshida. “But the blossoms have a temporal quality. They come down.”

“As the earth’s temperature rises, the blossoms that used to flower in April are now flowering in March. … We believe these flowers will always bloom every year, but could it be that sakura will suddenly stop flowering in the near future?”

Yoshida, the granddaughter, daughter and niece of accomplished and legendary Japanese artists, is most famous for her work with red circles. She designed the only permanent installation on display at Target Corp.’s Minneapolis headquarters as well as limited-edition gift wrapping the retailer sold in 2006. A second series will become available in May.

This venture represents a new direction in her art, one inspired by her surroundings and her situation.

When Jo Burke began planning last year for this spring’s exhibit – “National/International Consciousness in Japan: Self, Place, and Society during the Nineteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries” – the director of the NIU Art Museum knew she needed a contemporary component.

Nagata and Helen Merritt, a professor emeritus from the School of Art, gave Burke a list of artists that included Yoshida.

“When Jo saw my work, she said, ‘This is it.’ She knew I was the artist she wanted,” Yoshida said.

Yet even though Yoshida agreed to come, she knew she wouldn’t have time to complete one of her installations in red. Those require more than two years.

Last August, when she visited the gallery to study its spaces and measure its walls, she thought of the sakura cherry blossoms. She thought about the months her installation would appear.

“It is not possible to see sakura cherry blossoms in the Chicago area. Because the latitude of the region is so far north, it is too cold here for sakura trees to grow. There is, however, a good chance that the temperature of Chicago will also rise year by year due to rising temperatures around the world and become an environment where sakura trees might grow in the near future. By that time, Japan may be a desert.”

Yoshida and her husband, woodcarver and sculptor Bidou Yamaguchi, arrived at NIU in December to begin their work.

They brought with them a two-person crew that has assisted with four of Yoshida’s installations over the last five years and currently have a team of three students and a technical assistant working on site. Yamaguchi, who serves as a manager and supervisor of sorts, also brought his camera to document the project. The couple also are maintaining a blog at

With a steady stream of curious observers and generous helpers passing through, Yoshida has found their questions and comments stimulating.

“The installations are a process, and whenever she’s making them, that is her time and space to think of the message of the work and all its meanings, and then to reflect on that,” Nagata said. “She always anticipates they will not turn out the way she’s imagined them and that they will become something more than what she expected.”

Her work is joined by “Ukiyo-e Prints from the Richard F. Grott Family Collection,” “Revisiting Modern Japanese Prints: Selected Works from the Richard F. Grott Family Collection” co-curated by Nagata and Merritt, “Japanese Pottery from the Richard F. Grott Family Collection,” curated by Merritt.

The Tsukasa Taiko Drummers will give a traditional Japanese drumming demonstration during the reception at 5:15 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24. The Tsukasa Taiko drum ensemble will perform later that evening at 8 p.m. in the Music Building’s Boutell Memorial Concert Hall.

Selections from Grott’s donation and family collection also display the fundamental differences between Japan’s ukiyo-e tradition of the Edo period (1615-1867) and modern 20th century prints. The exhibitions will introduce technical and thematic features of the traditional multicolor woodblock prints created through publishers who brought together the expert skills of carvers, printers and designers.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the west end of the first floor of Altgeld Hall. The galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours. Exhibitions are free; donations are appreciated.

For more information, visit or call (815) 753-1936.

Tennessee Williams play to receive
world premiere with NIU’s SummerNITE

Chicago seems an unlikely place for Tennessee Williams to call home, but a noted scholar of his work maintains that the playwright’s career essentially began and ended there.

“Williams has gotten a reputation as being a Southern playwright, and that is not true. He is an American playwright,” says David Kaplan, curator of the acclaimed Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, Mass.

“His national reputation began with the production of ‘Glass Menagerie’ in Chicago in December of 1944. Right after it opened, there was a huge snowstorm. Two Chicago critics took it upon themselves to keep the production alive by writing about it, and that is why it came to Broadway. His reputation was made in Chicago,” Kaplan adds. “As a result, throughout his life, Williams had a very strong relationship and a positive relationship with showing new work there. The Goodman Theatre essentially created a home for Williams at the end of his life where he could work and where he developed his last full play.”

The relationship will continue posthumously in February, when Kaplan and NIU’s SummerNITE will present the world premiere of “The Day On Which A Man Dies.”

Written in 1959 but never produced, the play opens Friday, Feb. 1, at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield Ave., which is two blocks south of Wrigley Field at Sheffield’s intersection with Clark and Newport streets.

Audiences will experience an evening choreographed exactly as Williams intended, with paintings created and destroyed during the performance, a set made of paper and actors covered in paint. They will witness a famous American painter and his mistress argue violently, reconcile, make love and finally betray one another.

Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays (Feb. 1 and 8) and Saturdays (Feb. 2 and 9) and 7 p.m. Sundays (Feb. 3 and 10). The running time is about 70 minutes, and there is no intermission. All tickets are $15 and are available online at or by phone at (800) 838-3006.

Kaplan, who serves as director and designer, is a longtime friend of Christopher Markle, head of performance in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance and the artistic director for SummerNITE. The four-member cast includes NIU student Sean Patrick Walsh.

Alex Gelman, director of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, says the invitation to produce the world premiere was remarkable enough for SummerNITE to make a rare wintertime appearance.

“A university is a place of teaching, and it’s a place of learning. The learning part comes from existing truths and discovering truths. Who would not jump at the opportunity to do a play by one of the greatest masters of the stage – ever – that no one’s ever done? How do you not do that? When given the opportunity, in large part thanks to Christopher Markle’s professional reputation, we jumped at the chance,” Gelman says.

“Anybody who’s not a specialist but thinks that they know Tennessee Williams’ work will be amazed,” Gelman adds. “This is not what we typically associate with him. This is not ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ This is not ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’ This person strove, learned, challenged himself, worked in forms that were not in his comfort zone, shall we say, and that’s striking. Plus, it’s a fascinating piece theatrically.”

The play first came to Kaplan’s attention two years ago.

Allean Hale, a scholar from Champaign-Urbana, discovered its existence within “a stray comment” she read in an old interview with Williams and tracked it down to a folder in the UCLA library, its pages unnumbered and not in order. Handwritten by Williams, its title page categorizes it as “Finished 1960.”

Although Williams revisited the basic story in 1971 with a different script and title – a work that was produced in 2001 at the White Barn Theater in Connecticut – the upcoming SummerNITE production is the world premiere of the original text. Editor Annette Saddik, who determined the proper flow of the pages, will publish the text this spring.

Kaplan says the publisher and editor knew his work as a director and suggested he direct the play at the Tennessee Williams Festival he curates. “I thought it was something so special it should be done on its own, and Chicago made sense to me, given the energy of the actors there and the city’s connection to Williams,” he says.

“This particular play, I think, is very significant among Williams’ work. This is not something he wrote when he was older. It’s not something he wrote when he was young. This is something he wrote at the height of his powers,” he says, mentioning “Sweet Bird of Youth” and “The Night of the Iguana” as its chronological contemporaries.

“What excites me about the play is what excites me about Williams in general: He is a shaman. In the writing of his plays, he is a visionary who is reporting on a world that he sees, and in the words that he uses to describe that world, we share those visions ourselves,” he adds. “This is a very clear example of that in its use of stage directions, in its use of raw color and in its use of Japanese stage techniques that we now understand are very avant-garde Japanese performance art techniques.”

Indeed, Kaplan says, Williams dedicated “The Day on Which a Man Dies” to Yukio Mishima, a post-WWII Japanese homoerotic novelist.

The action takes place in a Tokyo hotel room, meanwhile, and the theatrical imagery draws on the Japanese “Noh,” a 14th-century form that combines dance, music, storytelling and acting, and “Gutai,” a Japanese art form inspired by Jackson Pollock.

“There’s a sequence where the painter gets down on the canvas and moves the paint around with his whole body. He’s covered with red paint. It looks like he’s been hit by a car, and that’s when his mistress comes in,” Kaplan says. “There’s a sequence where he walks into the room like that, trying to have a calm conversation with the Japanese lawyers, and it looks like he’s covered in blood.”

Color always played a prominent role for Williams, a friend of Pollock’s, who created oil paintings throughout his life. It began as early as the lighting instructions in “The Glass Menagerie,” Kaplan says.

“The stage is like a head. On one side of the brain is this; on the other side is that,” Kaplan says. “Doing what he asked, we have this wild, anarchic, swirling, red painted world. We have this very clean, high-fashion 1959 Tokyo hotel room in muted colors.”

Kaplan will take “The Day on Which a Man Dies” elsewhere after its SummerNITE premiere.

He has no plans to stage the play in conventional places, however.

“He was a painter – Williams himself – and he knew all about the process and theory,” Kaplan says. “I want this perceived as his artwork, and I think that would be clearer if it’s seen in a museum or a performance art space.”

Visit for more information about SummerNITE. For more information about Links Hall, visit

Grainger gift supports NIU’s new facility management program

Grainger, a leading supplier of facility maintenance products based in Lake Forest, Ill., last week contributed $15,000 to NIU to assist in the creation of professional development opportunities for facility managers across the region.

The program, to be known as the Certified Facility Manager Exam Review and Seminar Series, is being created through a partnership between NIU Outreach and the Chicago Chapter of International Facility Management Association.

“We are grateful to Grainger for its support of this program, and we look forward to working with the Chicago Chapter of IFMA to create a curriculum that will enhance career advancement opportunities and increase the earning potential for professional facility managers,” said Donna Mann, assistant director of non-credit programs for NIU Outreach.

The Grainger gift will be used to help market the program and to offset the cost of textbooks and course materials for students. The gift reflects an ongoing commitment to technical education by Grainger. The company has invested more than $370,000 in such programs over the last two years.

NIU Outreach has a history of successfully partnering with business organizations to offer professional development and certification prep courses. The Society for Human Resource Management has ranked NIU’s HR Management Certification Prep among the top 20 in the nation, while the Institute of Internal Auditors selected NIU as the first university in the world to offer its new instructor-led Certified Internal Auditor Review program.

NIU Outreach plans to start offering the Certified Facility Manager Exam Review and Seminar Series later this year. The seminars can be taken individually or as a series to aid in preparation for the CF Management exam.

“This is a one-of-a-kind program that will offer something for facility managers at all levels, from entry level professionals seeking to learn more about the functional areas of the business, to those preparing to sit for the CFM exam,” said Esther Diamond, president of the Chicago Chapter of IFMA.


Julia Oster, an information technology coordinator in the College of Education, died Sunday, Jan. 20, after a long battle with cancer. Oster, who was 47, joined NIU in 1982.

A visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at Anderson Funeral Home, 2011 S. Fourth St. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at Sycamore United Methodist Church, 160 Johnson Ave. A luncheon will be served at the church after the internment.

A memorial is being established for the education fund of Oster’s twin daughters, Elise and Jennifer, who are seniors at Bradley University.

NIU Athletic Board seeks opinions of faculty, staff

As the Athletic Board strives to provide a world-class experience for the members of the NIU community, the board is asking for participation in a brief online survey.

Click on and answer 10 questions as they pertain to your interests in NIU intercollegiate athletics. The survey should take only a couple of minutes to complete.

Vote for new OneCard design

The OneCard ID is about to undergo a face lift. Check out the new sample designs at and vote for your favorite.

The design with the most votes will become the new face of the NIU OneCard ID. Voting ends on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Retirement reception scheduled
for Graduate School’s Mitchell

Gail Mitchell, assistant vice president for technology transfer and development in Research and Graduate Studies, will retire after 25 years of service to NIU.

A reception is scheduled for 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, in the College of Law’s Thurgood Marshall Gallery in Swen Parson Hall.

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. Information about applications for the institute is available on the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Web site at Applications should be submitted electronically to

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 for more information.

Application deadline approaches
for faculty travel fellowships

The NIU Division of International Programs is accepting applications for Lillian Cobb Faculty Travel Fellowships, supporting faculty members who seek international teaching and public service experiences.

The fellowships will support faculty members for international travel through Aug. 15. All tenured or tenure-track faculty members at NIU are eligible to apply.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, Feb. 8. Applicants will be notified whether they have received an award by March 15.

A total of $8,000 will be available for awards of varying amounts. Except for extraordinary circumstances, a match of 20 percent (with a maximum of $500) is expected from the faculty member’s department and/or college.

The travel fellowship was established with an endowment from the estate of Lillian Cobb, the first chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

More information is available at

Art Museum sponsors ‘Get-on-the-Bus’ trips

Interested in artwork, antiques or art fairs? Want to enjoy regional culture, see innovative historical exhibits, keep up with what’s happening in the art world and travel without the
hassle of traffic, tolls and parking?

Then get on the bus and enjoy the ride.

The NIU Art Museum schedules the trip, makes the itinerary and arrangements. Travelers just need to sign up and pre-pay by the deadlines posted. All trips depart from the NIU School of Art parking lot on the northeast corner of Gilbert and College.

Saturday, Feb. 23: Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, Chicago.
Head to the Art Institute of Chicago to view large exhibitions of two American art icons, “Watercolors of Winslow Homer: The Color of Light” and Edward Hopper.

“Watercolors of Winslow Homer: The Color of Light” includes more than 100 watercolors, drawings and oil paintings from Homer (1836-1910), regarded as America’s first modernist. The work spans 30 years of production from this artist who created influential works in the watercolor media.

Hopper (1882-1967) is perhaps America’s best known realist and creator of the iconic 1942
painting “Nighthawks.” Hopper’s themes of solitude and introspection are prevalent in the exhibition which includes 50 oil paintings and 30 watercolors displayed in a literary and historical context.

These are timed tickets in a limited number, so reserve your spot early. The bus will depart from DeKalb at noon with return arrival at 6:30 p.m. Transportation and ticket costs are $21 for NIU Art Museum members, $24 for students and senior citizens 65 and older and $26 for others. No refunds for cancellation after the payment deadline will be given since these are pre-paid

Members of the Art Institute of Chicago can ride with us and use their membership perk (being aware that tickets might not be available the same time or day due to volume). Transportation costs for those with their own tickets are $10 for NIU Art Museum members, $15 for students and seniors and $15 for others.

The registration and pre-payment deadline is Thursday, Jan. 31. 

To register, visit the museum on the west-end first floor of Altgeld Hall, call (815) 753-1936 or e-mail Jo Burke at Payment may be made with cash, a check made out to NIU, or a major credit card. Payment must be made in advance to guarantee your seat on the bus.

More information about the NIU Art Museum and its programming is available online.

Mortar Board seeks members

Mortar Board Senior Honor Society, one of the most distinguished active honor societies in higher education, is looking for members for the 2008-2009 NIU chapter.

Eligible students must have senior status by fall 2008, have at least a 3.2 GPA and have demonstrated commitment to Mortar Board’s ideals of scholarship, leadership and service. Mortar Board is a selective senior honor society and will choose only 50 to 60 eligible students for membership.

Founded in 1918, Mortar Board has a long history of recognizing outstanding students for their active contributions to the community. 

Please encourage eligible students to visit the chapter Web site for more information and to apply for membership: Applications are due Friday, Feb. 15. For more information contact chapter adviser Daniel Turner,, in the NIU Academic Advising Center.

Faculty Development to honor
three outstanding graduate TAs

NIU’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is seeking nominations for the 2008 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards. Nominations are due Friday, Feb. 29.

These awards acknowledge and recognize outstanding graduate teaching assistants for their contributions to the teaching mission of NIU. Each recipient of the award will be presented with a plaque and recognized at a reception held at the end of the spring semester. At least one will be presented to an outstanding teaching assistant pursuing a master’s degree.

To be eligible for this award, each candidate must be enrolled as a graduate student in good standing at NIU during the semester the award nominations are due, have been employed as a graduate teaching assistant for at least two complete semesters (excluding the semester of nomination) during the past two years at NIU, have been responsible for teaching a course fully or teaching-related support that involved student contact as part of the graduate teaching assistant employment, and have not previously received this award at NIU.

Each academic or academic support unit that employs graduate TAs for teaching and related activities is invited to nominate two outstanding graduate teaching assistants (one at the master’s level and the other at the doctoral level) from its department for the awards.

Nominations submitted to the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center must include supporting documents to be considered for the award. The nominations can be submitted by the head of the unit or designee, and each nomination should include five hardcopies of the following:

  • Nominee information – name, degree, major, phone, e-mail address, department where graduate teaching assistantship was/is held, semesters and years employed as a GTA in that department, course(s) responsible for as a GTA, and responsibilities handled (primary responsibilities for teaching, tutoring, recitation, lab development or supervision, etc.).
  • Nominator information – name, title, department, phone, e-mail address, how long have known the nominee, and in what capacity related to the nominee’s GTA responsibilities.
  • Reasons for nomination – explain the nominee’s outstanding contributions as a GTA at NIU, impact on the course(s) handled by the nominee and the students, efforts made by the nominee to improve teaching by participating in TA development programs, etc.
  • Supporting documents – evidence of outstanding teaching or related support, such as student evaluations, reviews by supervisors, department/college recognition, etc.

A subcommittee of the Faculty Development Advisory Committee will review the nominations and select the recipients of the award. The committee may request additional information or clarifications from the nominees or nominators.

Submit nominations to the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, 319 Adams Hall. Call (815) 753-0595 for more information.

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.

Ally Program to sponsor
spring training workshops

The Ally Program is a campus-wide program designed to foster a welcoming and supportive campus environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty and staff by creating a visible network of allies.

NIU employees and students interested in volunteering for the Ally Program can learn more and register online. The online form provides the specific workshop dates and times and allows registrants to indicate first, second and third choices.

Training is divided into two two-hour workshops (Part I and Part II). Volunteers must attend both Part I and Part II. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. Multiple dates are available.

Part I
Monday, Jan. 28: 9 to 11 a.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 5: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 13: 2 to 4 p.m.

Part II
Wednesday, Feb. 20: 2 to 4 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 25: 9 to 11 a.m.
Tuesday, March 4: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

The Ally Program is a program of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, Division of Student Affairs.

Monique Bernoudy to speak
at women’s networking luncheon

Monique Bernoudy, associate athletics director at NIU, is the speaker at a Friday, Feb. 8, networking luncheon for NIU women faculty, staff and students.

The luncheon takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Chandelier Room of Adams Hall. Bernoudy’s presentation begins at 12:05 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and the Women’s Resource Center.

The cost is $8 per person. Reserve a place by Tuesday, Jan. 29, by calling (815) 753-0320.

Bernoudy’s presentation will focus on the current status of women in sports in relation to Title IX and how universities across the United States fare on a comparison scale. Findings indicate that much work still needs to be done.

She will conclude with recommendations for improving women’s equality and status in sports.

NIU Foundation invites
Venture Grants applications

The NIU Foundation invites applications for the 2008 Venture Grants. All proposals must be received in the Foundation Office by Friday, Feb. 1. Awards will be announced no later than the first week of April.

The Foundation anticipates awarding between two and four grants at a minimum level of $5,000 and up to $25,000, with a total amount available of $55,000. 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. 

For complete information about the grants as well as application information and forms, visit the NIU Foundation Web page.

The NIU Foundation looks forward to supporting faculty and staff in the pursuit of excellence in research, teaching and outreach to the larger community. Call (815) 753-7539 for more information.