Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today - September 29, 2008

Peters calls for focus on student success,
program integration during annual address

In his first annual address since the Feb. 14 tragedy, NIU President John Peters told students, faculty and staff the university is moving forward with a renewed sense of purpose and unity, guided by its strategic plan and a focus on student success.

Peters said the university has already added 200 new class sections in areas of highest demand; is overhauling the core curriculum for the first time in 25 years; and will be creating cross-college “landing spots” for students who aren’t able to enter their first choice of academic major.

“First and foremost, we are building on NIU’s genuinely student-centered ethos through an action plan that places students firmly at the center of everything we do,” Peters said.

Calling NIU “a well-balanced research university,” Peters said its strategic plan puts special emphasis on integrating teaching, research and service in ways that enhance student learning opportunities. 

“We know that engaged learners are more successful students,” Peters said.  “Engaged learning takes place whenever students pursue their academic interests beyond the classroom, and they are doing that through study abroad, participation in research projects, internships, clinical placements, volunteer and service work and many other faculty-led opportunities.” 

Peters pointed to NIU’s extensive work with area public schools and healthcare providers as examples of the mission integration called for in the university’s new strategic plan. NIU’s P-20 (preschool through graduate school) initiative provides extensive hands-on experience for NIU students and researchers while also improving students’ achievement in K-12 schools. Peters took the opportunity of his address to announce an agreement between NIU and DeKalb District 428 to jointly plan and launch the new DeKalb High School. The NIU Family Health, Wellness and Literacy Center in the former Monsanto building on Sycamore Road and the university’s proton therapy initiative were similarly cited for providing service to the region as well as excellent teaching and research opportunities.

Peters said growth on the academic side of the university will be largely multidisciplinary, with faculty from multiple colleges collaborating on new programs that cross traditional college and department boundaries. Examples under development include nanoscience and engineering, environmental studies and an institute to improve learning at the critical middle-school level.

NIU’s ambitious strategic plan calls for a multi-million dollar investment in new faculty, programs and technology, and Peters said the first phase of that funding plan is already in place. In addition to some $7 million in new money dedicated to the project, the university will reallocate existing dollars and invest substantial private monies in strategic priorities over the next three years.

True North, the university’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign, is nearly 90 percent of the way to its $150 million goal with two years to go, Peters said. Since its launch in 2003, True North has established 17 new professorships and endowed chairs, and quadrupled scholarship dollars awarded from endowment.

Peters also announced receipt of two federal grants aimed at helping the university recover from Feb. 14:  a $586,000 grant to help the university improve, test and share its emergency response plan, and a $397,000 grant to fund new counseling and mental health positions in the Counseling and Student Development Center and the Office of Employee Relations and Training. Both grants are from the U.S. Department of Education.

NIU receives grants for security, mental health

NIU has received grants totaling nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance emergency preparedness on campus and to expand mental health services.

“These grants will allow us to meet important needs as we work to heal the lingering effects of the tragedy of Feb. 14, and to improve our ability to handle emergencies of all types in the future,” said NIU President John G. Peters.

The money comes in the form of two grants: a $568,000 Emergency Management in Higher Education grant, and a $397,000 School Emergency Response to Violence grant.

The larger of the two grants will be used to undertake a comprehensive review and upgrade of the university’s emergency operations plan. That plan, and the way it was executed when tragedy struck the campus last year, was recently praised by the Illinois Campus Security Task Force. However, as NIU reviewed its response to the event and its aftermath, several areas for improvement were identified.

“While our existing plan served us well, the experience of working through the crisis taught us many lessons,” said Peters. “This funding will help us implement those lessons quickly and efficiently and better prepare us to face adversity in the future.” 

Key aspects of the plan upgrade include the creation of a “living” emergency operations plan and development of online training in emergency operations for the entire campus community.

The “living EOP” will replace the hard-copy document that currently guides the university’s response to emergencies. It will be a secure online version of the plan, which can be reviewed, updated and shared with the appropriate individuals much more quickly than the existing document.

The online training will have similar advantages, allowing the university to create modules that address specific tasks or situations (complete with tests for understanding) and easily keep tabs on employees to ensure that their training is always up-to-date.

The grant also will fund a building-by-building assessment of campus security, expanded emergency response training for campus police and simulated training exercises that include local and regional agencies and officials.

“When this process is complete, I believe that we will have a comprehensive emergency plan that will not only make NIU safer, but will also serve as a model for similar universities across the nation,” said Peters.

More than 200 universities submitted applications for Emergency Management in Higher Education grants, and the NIU proposal was one of only 13 selected for funding by the Department of Education.

Much of the School Emergency Response to Violence grant will be used to fund two new positions at the Counseling and Student Development Center, and two positions in the Office of Employee Relations and Training. Both offices have seen an increased demand for services since the campus shootings.

“Certainly some of the increased demand we are seeing can be attributed to the ongoing effects of Feb. 14, but I believe much of it can be attributed to students becoming more aware of the services we provide, and feeling less stigmatized about using them,” said Micky Sharma, director of NIU’s Counseling and Student Development Center. “Regardless of the root cause, more students are seeking out our services and this grant will ensure that we can provide them with quality care.”

The newly funded positions in the Office of Employee Relations and Training will allow that office to increase availability of short-term counseling, outreach and consultation for university faculty and staff.

“We will offer workshops on topics such as dealing with angry people, grief at work and conflict resolution, all aimed at promoting a less stressful climate on campus,” said Deborah Haliczer, director of Employee Relations.

The SERV grant will also fund a cooperative effort with Virginia Tech University to develop a state-of-the-art threat assessment protocol to assist campuses in identifying and helping students in crisis who could be become violent. The project includes devising a list of warning signs to look for, providing ideas on how to respond to troubled students and developing an intake questionnaire to help recognize potentially troubled students as early as possible.

Both grants were approved earlier this month and funds are expected to be released shortly.

Dan Gebo, Christine Worobec, Narayan Hosmane
named 2008 Board of Trustees Professors

Anthropologist Dan Gebo, Historian Christine Worobec and Chemist Narayan Hosmane have been named as the inaugural recipients of the NIU Board of Trustees Professorships.

Each BOT Professorship is accompanied by a $10,000 stipend, renewable annually during the 5-year term.

Peters said the three faculty members exemplify the integrated model of teaching, research and service that NIU's new strategic plan seeks to strengthen.

“They are scholars who add to the body of knowledge in their respective disciplines, teachers who view their students as fellow travelers on the journey to new understanding and innovators who make the world their classroom,” Peters said.

The NIU Board of Trustees established the professorships to recognize faculty who have achieved a consistent record of excellence in teaching, academic leadership and service and outreach. In the selection process, special emphasis is placed on the recognition of faculty members who have earned national or international acclaim for their scholarship or artistry and continue to engage students in their research and professional activities.

Indeed, students and alums alike praise these professors.

One alum said of Gebo: “I cannot overstate the profound impact he has had on my life.” A student similarly described Worobec: “She is an engaging, intelligent teacher who has the ability to bring students’ participation and analysis to a high level in discussions and written work.” Yet another student praised Hosmane: “He is one of the most vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic professors that I have been blessed with having in my college career.”

Here’s a closer look at the inaugural BOT Professors.

Daniel L. Gebo

An anthropologist and paleontologist, Dan Gebo is recognized as a world expert on the anatomy and evolution of monkeys, apes, humans and lower primates.

He joined the NIU faculty in 1987 and now holds a joint appointment in anthropology and biological sciences. Gebo also serves as a research associate at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. NIU previously recognized his expertise in both the classroom and field with the Presidential Teaching Professorship (2008) and the Presidential Research Professorship (1998).

Throughout his career, Gebo’s work has captured mainstream-press headlines, including in 2000 when he led a research team that discovered the fossils of 45-million-year-old, thumb-length primates. The find made the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post and newspapers worldwide. He is currently working in northern China on a quest to illuminate primate origins dating back 60 million years.

Gebo also has conducted fieldwork in Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Mali, Madagascar, the Philippines, Uganda and the United States. He has won more than a dozen grant awards, made more than 25 presentations in national and international venues and authored or co-authored more than 60 publications in top-tier professional journals, including Nature and Science.

At NIU, Gebo helped create an important avenue of research for students when, a decade ago, he proposed a concept that became USOAR – for Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research. The program has provided more than 100 undergraduates from all disciplines with funding for research in this country and abroad, including in China, Peru, Ireland and Cuba.

“By inspiring this program, Dr. Gebo has touched the very heart of the Board of Trustees Professorship,” said Christopher McCord, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Gebo has taught a wide variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, touching the lives of nearly 6,000 students. He has supervised or been a committee member on 45 master's-level theses and four dissertations.

“Science is about ideas,” Gebo said. “As a physical anthropologist, I try to challenge students to learn more, appreciate important facts, consider strength of evidence and most importantly to think critically about the ideas scientists create from this background of evidence.”

Christine D. Worobec

Among the world’s leading historians of tsarist Russia, Christine Worobec has won international praise for her work exploring the extraordinary history of Russia’s common folk in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her scholarship has been described by colleagues as nothing short of trailblazing.

She joined the NIU Department of History in 1999. Rather than studying people of wealth and power, Worobec focused her scholarship on members of Russian society who might otherwise be voiceless in the pages of history. She has conducted pioneering work on women, folklore, peasants, family, religion and social life in tsarist Russia and Ukraine.

Those explorations have taken Worobec to such places as Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Moscow. And her work has delved into specific topics ranging from courtship and inheritance practices to sainthood, pilgrimages, demon possession and miraculous cures.

Worobec has penned three books, two bibliographic compilations, 20 book chapters and articles and more than 50 book reviews. She has presented nearly 50 conference papers and invited talks in national and international forums and has participated in more than 30 panel sessions.

She is the only scholar in her field who is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Heldt Prize from the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. The award is presented for the book of the year in Slavic, East European and Eurasian women's and gender studies. In addition to being designated as a Distinguished Research Professor at NIU, she also received the Southern Historical Association Amos Simpson Award and the Ohio Academy of History Publication Award.

“My love of students and my scholarly sense of responsibilities to them have taken two directions,” Worobec said. “I infuse my courses with the most up-to-date scholarly research, including the results of my own work and experiences in Russia. I also work to instill students with a sense of professionalism through constant advising.”

Her support of students extends beyond the classroom to her recent two-year position as acting director of graduate studies in the Department of History.

“Christine’s extraordinary dedication as acting director of graduate studies made her a huge favorite of our students,” History Chair Beatrix Hoffman said. “She is truly a role model for anyone determined to combine great scholarly distinction with a strong commitment to supporting and mentoring students.”

Narayan S. Hosmane

Narayan Hosmane is among the world leaders in boron chemistry research, and his scholarship has potential applications in a wide range of areas, from the development of new cancer treatment drugs to ways to make better plastics.

Hosmane joined the NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1998 and was awarded the Presidential Research Professorship three years later. He has an extensive record of accomplishment, including publication of more than 245 peer-reviewed manuscripts, the presentation of 100 papers and 130 seminars worldwide, and more than $5 million in research awards from funding agencies that include the American Chemical Society, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

In 2001, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Bonn, Germany presented Hosmane with the coveted Humboldt Research Award for senior scientists (with a stipend of about $70,000). The award is presented to scientists worldwide as a tribute to their lifelong accomplishments. The Humboldt Foundation then last year extended a rare second invite to bring him back to Germany for further collaborations.

Hosmane has received other international awards including the BUSA Award for Distinguished Achievements in Boron Science; the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Distinguished Chair of Chemistry at the University of Hyderabad, India; and the Gauss Professorship of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, Germany.

Students are involved in Hosmane’s scholarship as well. He has directed the research of 41 post-doctoral fellows, eight Ph.D. students, 11 master’s students, 52 undergraduates and 12 high school students.

“The training of undergraduates, and preparing them for the real world, I think that is my real accomplishment,” Hosmane said. “I believe the science of chemistry can only be taught in a research lab where fundamental questions on the frontiers of chemistry are probed. In my view, both researching and teaching are integral parts of the learning process.”

Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Jon Carnahan said Hosmane is a leader among faculty as well.

“He leads by example,” Carnahan said. “Narayan is certainly one of the most highly respected researchers at the university. He also has served as a wonderful mentor for graduate students and our junior faculty. He has helped enhance NIU’s reputation as a global university and has become a leader on campus, speaking authoritatively with regard to NIU’s strategic needs.”

NIU, DeKalb School District 428 expand partnership
with world-class vision for new DeKalb High School

Chesebro Elementary School’s ‘dual-language’ program launched in August

NIU and DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 will collaborate to create a professional development school at the new DeKalb High School.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2011, the new high school will stand on the foundation of a groundbreaking depth of teamwork that organizers believe will bring transformations to both institutions and earn national recognition.

A team of top administrators, teachers and NIU faculty and staff will spend the next three years developing a unique vision for world-class student achievement rooted in rigorous curriculum, superior preparation of pre-service teachers, excellence in professional learning and joint research and co-teaching by faculty from NIU and DeKalb High School.

The partnership enforces NIU’s state-leading commitment to P-20 (preschool through graduate school) goals of raising student achievement, improving teacher quality and creating seamless transitions across the educational system. DeKalb High School represents the third professional development school between NIU and District 428, beginning with Wright Elementary School in 2004 and continuing last month with Chesebro Elementary School.

Peters made the announcement during his annual State of the University Address.

“Everyone in our greater education community recognized the remarkable opportunity created earlier this year when the voters of District 428 generously approved construction of a new high school,” Peters said. “Together we will build a new place of best-practice learning that prepares DeKalb High School graduates for a changing world while NIU simultaneously evolves in the way we train teachers. This close collaboration puts our faculty along the front lines of high school classrooms and brings that current, first-hand knowledge into NIU classrooms.”

“NIU Outreach has established a quality educational partnership with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428,” said Dr. James Briscoe, superintendent of District 428. “The DeKalb School District is excited about the opportunity to extend our partnership with NIU to the high school. This program will have a positive impact on learning for our students and staff.”

Planning began in July

Planning for the high school partnership began July 7 at an intensive three-day workshop held inside NIU’s Altgeld Hall.

More than three dozen participants, including faculty, staff and administrators from both institutions, built a framework for partnership, examined current academic and environmental conditions at the high school, plotted a five-year course, voiced big ideas and finally drafted a blueprint for collaboration during the next three years.

They also learned more about “Response to Intervention,” the three-tiered problem-solving model at the heart of the partnership: Tier 1 – the core curriculum – is what every student receives and is effective for about 80 percent of students. Tier 2 introduces additional group support and intervention, effective for about 15 percent of the other students; Tier 3 is generally for students who demonstrate pervasive learning challenges (including those with special needs) and features more-individualized support and intervention.

During the three days, stakeholders from both institutions expressed their hopes for a mutually beneficial and equal partnership that makes “RTI” problem-solving intrinsic. They want to develop an effective curriculum and instruction that is rigorous, relevant and responsive.

“We’re walking hand-in-hand in this,” Dr. Becky McCabe, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at DeKalb Community Unit School District 428, told the group. “We all think we know what’s best for kids. We need to know together what’s best for kids. When it’s all over, we can be very proud of what we’ve done for kids.”

Dr. Anne Kaplan, vice president for Administration and University Outreach at NIU, told workshop participants that “our new economy requires students to acquire globally competitive knowledge and skills. Our P-20 strategic plan calls for an assessment of what constitutes ‘readiness’ for higher education in this changing environment.”

Meanwhile, she said, the university depends on the economic, educational, social and cultural vitality of the region.

“We have a long and proud history of training teachers and sustaining educational partnerships,” Kaplan said. “Partnerships are hard work, whether they focus on raising student performance or improving the economy. NIU devotes resources to managing partnerships and coordinating participation from across the campus. In this case, we see development of an innovative DeKalb High School as a strategic part of our regional mission.”

A new high school

The new 400,000-square-foot DeKalb High School will sit on 76 acres on Dresser Road west of Katz Park. Its capacity of 2,500 immediately solves the overcrowding problem at the current high school, where enrollment tops 1,700 in a school built for 1,430.

Students and teachers also will enjoy improved technology, including wireless capability throughout the building and projectors in every classroom. Insufficient wiring at the current building cannot support that level of technology. NIU’s pre-service teachers will have a “focused area” to take classes in the building; some DHS faculty will teach in NIU classrooms alongside professors who train teachers.

Yet new bricks and mortar only will enhance the outstanding teaching and learning already available at DeKalb High School, Principal Dr. Lindsey Hall said. The school’s strong academic offerings include eight advanced placement courses, a number that will increase to 10 next fall.

“Our teachers personalize the environment. Our students indicate that they feel welcome here. We have an inclusive environment that encourages individuality and diversity,” Hall said. “Students get a global experience here. We’ve got a diverse population that exposes students to a wide variety of students and adults who are from varying backgrounds, both culturally and racially. This creates an environment where there’s a sharing of beliefs and opinions and the opportunity to engage in discourse about academics.”

Hall expects the professional development school will make DeKalb High School “the place where you want to send your children.”

“Your child is going to get the best-possible education in a public school district that’s doing things right and is meeting the needs of all of its learners,” she said. “From our end, the opportunity to have more pre-service candidates in our building is always exciting. Being around college students who want to be teachers and who want to go into education is refreshing and invigorating and breathes life into all of us, whether you’re someone with three years of experience or you’re a veteran with 25 years.”

Chesebro Elementary School

The Chesebro Elementary School professional development school, launched in August, maximizes student achievement in reading, literacy and mathematics through implementing best practices that transcend contemporary educational barriers such as language, race and socio-economic levels. About half of Chesebro’s diverse student population of 298 children is Latino.

NIU professors, pre-service teachers and experienced teaching staff will provide outstanding instruction using progressive strategies in both English and Spanish.

In 2011, Chesebro will explore a dual-language option for students of both languages. An instructional option will enroll English and Spanish speakers who will journey together from kindergarten through fifth-grade and receive instruction in both languages. It is expected that all of those students will become bilingual.

Planners have created a three-phase implementation. Year One (2008-09) has a focus on language and literacy in English and Spanish, including an afterschool program that offers Spanish as a foreign language. Year Two (2009-10) branches into math, bilingualism and lesson delivery, design and differentiation for diverse and English language learners.

Year Three (2010-11) adds the dual-language option.

NIU students become globetrotters
on quest to understand global warming

Favorite entrée of ancient Peruvians holds climate clues

Research on global warming took two NIU students nearly to the ends of the earth this past summer, with one traveling to South America and the other to the Arctic Circle.

Both Jennifer Cumpston and Brittani Duhamel in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences are working with Professor Paul Loubere to examine how forces in the equatorial Pacific Ocean drive climate change worldwide and how Polar Oceans connect to the Tropics.

The student researchers want to better understand the effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which influences climate patterns worldwide. ENSO is a mighty coalition of forces that sways across the equatorial Pacific and drives pools of warm surface water either to the west, causing La Nina ocean-atmospheric conditions, or to the east, resulting in El Niño conditions.

The 23-year-old Cumpston traveled with Loubere to Peru, where they met up with NIU Anthropology Professor Winifred Creamer. She and her husband, Jonathan Haas of the Field Museum in Chicago, are conducting a long-term project examining the emergence of complex societies on the north-central Peruvian coast.

Creamer and Haas have excavated 13 separate sites, uncovering ceremonial monuments and dwellings dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C. But Cumpston is most interested not in what the ancient coastal dwellers built but rather what they ate and threw away.

It turns out these ancient South Americans had diets rich in fish and shellfish, including a clam with the scientific name of Mesodesma donacium. When alive, the clams captured month by month the conditions of the ocean. Scientists can retrieve this information through oxygen isotope readings.

“They left us piles of clam shells in their trash heaps,” Loubere says. “What once was their food now is our window into their world.”

As part of her Ph.D. dissertation, Cumpston is unraveling the mystery of past climates and El Niño and La Niña conditions through careful measurements taken from the clams at key times in human pre-history.

“Dr. Loubere is teaching me how to do the oxygen isotope measurements and how to interpret and analyze what the results mean for ocean processes,” Cumpston says. “It’s all linked to climatology.”

Cumpston says this is the type of work she envisioned when she enrolled in NIU’s graduate program, but she never thought her research would include digging in the dirt.

“I got involved in the archaeology and dug a site myself,” Cumpston says. “I’ve had a lot of incredible opportunities, being able to work with experts in the field and from the Field Museum. I’m going to conferences this fall to present my work.”

Meanwhile, graduate student Brittani Duhamel headed in the opposite direction in order to conduct her research. She and Loubere spent a portion of August in Svalbard, a Norwegian island territory replete with glaciers and wildlife—including exotic birds, dolphins and Arctic ice seals.

Midway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard would seem a world away from coastal Peru, but the two regions hold something in common: both are deserts—one in dry heat, the other in silver cool light.

The Arctic is on the receiving end of Tropical heat. The Gulf Stream, with its roots in equatorial waters, eventually makes its way north to the Arctic. While the polar ice cap reflects solar energy, in effect rejecting the melting sunlight, its underside is being eaten away by the warm ocean waters.

Like Cumpston, Duhamel is interested in past climates in the region. She spent her days on a research ship operated by the Norwegian Research Council in the Greenland Sea, lowering contraptions into the water depths in order to retrieve sediment core samples from the seafloor.

The researchers are examining the process of sediment record formation in order to better understand their relationships to past climates and seawater conditions. The cores hold unique clues in the form of fossilized foraminifera—marine microorganisms with tiny shells.

“We’re looking at the forams at different depths,” Duhamel says. “They basically are the indicators of climate change and past climates in the region.”

Duhamel, a 22-year-old graduate student, will use the research as the basis for her master’s thesis. “It was amazing,” she says of the work in Svalbard. “Hands-on experience really helps with your understanding of the research. And I learned a lot about a different culture.”

The research and travel for both Cumpston and Duhamel was funded through a combination of grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Norwegian Research Council and private sources.

Campus Child Care Center celebrates 30 years

Thirty years after the NIU Campus Child Care Center opened to make higher education more accessible to parents of young children, the center continues to remove obstacles to college.

As the center’s children, staff and alumni prepare to celebrate the 30th anniversary with an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, a four-year federal grant renewed in 2006 provides dollars specifically for low-income college students.

The money enables the center to accept an unlimited amount of children from those students, removing some of the costs and stress from their education.

“One of the things that is most impressive to me is that, 30 years ago, this university made a commitment to create child care on this campus. To this day, a lot of universities don’t even have a campus-based child care center – and we got a new facility in 2000,” said Chris Herrmann, director of the center since 1989. “That just speaks volumes about the real and significant commitment NIU has made to the non-traditional student.”

NIU’s Campus Child Care Center provides a structured program, within a play-based setting, designed to meet the children’s developmental needs.

Teachers plan and implement an appropriate curriculum that includes activities in art, music, motor skills, dramatic play, language and literacy. A balance of active, quiet, individual and group activities assist in social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.

About 120 children ages 2 months to 5 years are enrolled. Although the center primarily serves NIU students, some are children of NIU employees; school-age children are accepted during the summer. Children are welcome anywhere from three to 10 hours a day. Full-time scheduling began in 1987, and napping was added as an option for part-time children in 1994.

The center enjoys its own 16,000-square-foot building on Annie Glidden Road, just southwest of Gabel Hall. Ironically, its first home was nearby in 1,800-square-foot Gabel 170. Professional staffing has increased from three full-time teachers in the beginning to 16 now.

Small-sized amenities include miniature toilets, tables, chairs, sofas and hat racks as well as sinks and drinking fountains so close to the floor adults must kneel to use them. The 10-classroom facility also features a large motor room where children play and exercise, a parent conference room, a private nursing room, two-way-mirrored observation rooms for parents or for students conducting research and several laundry machines.

Teachers create portfolios for all of the children full of future memories, including comments about, and examples of, their learning and their activities.

July brought the center reaccreditation from the National Academy for Early Childhood Programs. Initial accreditation came in 1992.

“They’ve really made the process more stringent. They’ve raised the bar,” Herrmann said.

“With the NIU students that we employ, we’re able to have good ratios in the classroom, better than some child care centers are able to provide,” she added. “Our teachers have associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education, or something closely related, and that makes a huge difference. A lot of programs trying to go through the new process might not even meet the staff credentials, let alone the other 400 criteria.”

Fifty students, many of whom are pursuing some aspect of education, work part-time.

“We never have to advertise for students. They always come to us,” said Herrmann, who began at the center in 1980 as a student volunteer in child development and later returned for a graduate assistantship before becoming director. “I think they value the experience. We put a lot of time into the training, supervision and learning aspects for the students.”

Learning is key for everyone involved, Herman said, including the staff.

“One of the things that makes our program stand out is best practices. We’re always seeking. We’re always learning. We’re always looking to implement best practices,” she said. “We want to provide all the services students need and, for this particular population, child care is one of them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to go to school.”

Events planned for the Oct. 7 open house include photo displays of Campus Child Care Center life, past and present, as well as an alumni photo exhibition. Alumni have been invited to send old and new pictures, along with information on their current activities and interests and their special memories of the center.

Children’s artwork from the center is on display in the glass cases outside the Duke Ellington Ballroom in the Holmes Student Center.

Meanwhile, the annual Children’s Book Fair will be open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, through Thursday, Oct. 8, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10. Approximately 1,700 books, including early readers and parent resource materials, are on sale along with calendars and much more. Checks and credit cards are welcome.

Call (815) 753-0125 for more information.

Haunted Physics Lab has creepy partner,
new name and more exhibits

Oct. 25 is ‘Spooky Science Saturday’

Every Halloween season, hundreds of young people flock to Northern Illinois University for the annual Haunted Physics Laboratory. This year’s event promises to be bigger and spookier than ever – and it might just make your hair stand on end, quite literally.

Spooky Science Saturday, featuring the Haunted Physics Lab and its new companion, the Creepy Chemistry Lab, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct 25, in Faraday Hall on the NIU campus.

Members of the public can arrive any time during the open house event. Entrance is free, although a $2 donation is suggested. Free parking will be available in the NIU Parking Deck along the west side of Normal Road, about one block north of Lincoln Highway (Route 38). Visitors can enter Faraday Hall from Faraday West, through the tunnel on the lower level.

The event attracted 1,100 visitors to campus last year. This time around it has been expanded to two floors within Faraday Hall, tripling the amount of space devoted to amazing and weird science.

The darkened laboratories will feature more than 80 interactive displays, including floating magnets, a levitating ghost, a hair-raising electrostatic machine and a “witch’s cauldron,” filled with a concoction of water and chilly liquid nitrogen. Visitors can don “rainbow glasses,” get creative with glow-in-the-dark face paints, ponder the lightning bolts in a plasma globe and make artworks that will only appear normal in funhouse-like mirrors.

A fog machine is used for visualization of lasers. Other light and optical displays include an electrical Jacob’s ladder. Volunteer students and professors will be on hand to explain the science behind the demonstrations.

And, thanks to the NIU Chemistry Club, kids will have an opportunity to make take-home slime.

“Kids are naturally curious. They love Halloween, and the holiday provides an opportunity to draw them into hands-on science,” says Pati Sievert, NIU’s outreach coordinator for science, technology, engineering and math. “Parents love it, too, because the kids are having fun and learning at the same time. I get parents each year who say they learned something new as well.”

Spooky Science Saturday is part of a larger NIU outreach effort to spark young people’s interest in the sciences well before they reach college age.

“The number of college students who want to pursue careers in the sciences is down nationally,” Sievert says. “We’re trying to get kids interested in the sciences before they’re finished with middle school. We want to encourage them to think about science careers before they make decisions in high school that might make the path more difficult, such as not taking advanced math or science courses.”

Sievert has run workshops for educators on how to create their own successful haunted labs. She also has presented on the success of the NIU program to the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Groups of more than 15 people are asked to contact Sievert in advance of the Oct. 25 event. She can be reached via e-mail at A limited number of school groups can be accommodated prior to 1 p.m.

Sievert also is looking for volunteer workers. Area teachers who participate will earn Continuing Professional Development Units. They also will receive an advance tour of the displays and a booklet on how to create similar displays for their classrooms.

The Haunted Physics Lab is sponsored by NIU Outreach, the Department of Physics and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Rebuilding the ‘White City’

UCLA architectural historian will give virtual tour of 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition

Nearly a century ago, some of the world’s top architects transformed a portion of Chicago’s South Side into a gleaming “White City” for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition. Most of the architectural wonders are long gone, but UCLA’s Lisa Snyder can still take you on a stunning tour.

Snyder, a senior member of the Urban Simulation Team at UCLA, has created a highly detailed, computerized visual reconstruction of the exhibition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair. She will provide a virtual tour at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center at NIU.

Sponsored by the Friends of NIU Libraries, the event is free and open to the public.

The tour includes both static images and video simulations that provide a stroll through the White City. The Chicago Tribune has called it “the next best thing to a walk through the fairgrounds in all its glory.”

Snyder has launched a two-year installation of the work-in-progress model with a series of presentations at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the only major building surviving from the 1893 exhibition. She will discuss the challenges of building the exhibition from the remaining visual and textual evidence.

“This is absolutely cutting-edge digital humanities work,” says NIU’s Drew VandeCreek, director of University Libraries’ digitization unit. “Lisa uses very sophisticated technology. She works from architects’ original plans and drawings to provide users with an opportunity to explore a virtual model of a built environment that no longer exists.”

Recent popular novels such as “The Devil in the White City” and “Against the Day” have drawn increased interest in the World’s Columbian Exhibition. But it has long been considered a milestone event in American history. Its grounds covered more than 600 acres and featured canals, lagoons and nearly 200 buildings.

None other than Daniel Burnham served as director of works, coordinating a team of the country’s most prominent architects. Their White City would have lasting impacts on American design ideals and spark the American Renaissance and City Beautiful movements.

Snyder also has produced three-dimensional interactive models of historical structures for the Israel Antiquities Authority and the City of Los Angeles. Her work was recognized as being among “the best of UCLA” by the institution’s vice chancellor.

Sample images and video of the virtual White City can be found on the UCLA Urban Simulation Team’s Web site at

What’s cooking at Ellington’s?

On the menu at Ellington’s this week: The Italian Vineyard is scheduled for Tuesday, Crumpets takes over Wednesday and Steel Drum Café concludes the week Thursday.

New this semester is the option to enjoy wine with your meal. One red and one white wine choice will be available with meal service. Wine will be selected for the menu based on wine-and-food pairings made by the students. Wine selections will range from $4.50 to $6.50 per glass.

The Italian Vineyard features Italian skewers or minestrone soup for starters, chicken cacciatore or roasted vegetable lasagna for entrees and cheesecake tart or tiramisu for dessert.

Crumpets features barley cheese soup or spinach and pear salad with sherry and Stilton cheese for starters, beer-battered tilapia with roasted red-skinned potatoes or vegetarian shepherd’s pie for entrees and mixed berry trifle or apple cobbler a la mode for dessert. Each table also will be served fresh-baked blueberry, raspberry white chunk and apple cinnamon scones with raspberry jam, apple butter and freshly prepared whipped butter.

Steel Drum Café features sunny coconut shrimp or crunch corn fritters with lemon cumin yogurt for starters, spicy Jamaican jerk chicken with pineapple rice or “moros y cristianos” (Cuban-style black beans and rice) for entrees and refreshing key lime pie parfait or fresh cool breeze fruit cocktail for dessert.

Seating is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with service until 1 p.m. The cost is $9 per person. Ellington’s is located on the main floor of the Holmes Student Center. Call (815) 753-1763 or visit to make reservations.

LGBT Resource Center hosts
LGBT History Month events

The campus community is invited to Open House Days at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center to kick off LGBT History Month in October.

Visit the LGBT Resource Center in person or at their online open house between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, through Friday, Oct. 3. Visitors can stop by in person at Holmes Student Center 706 to make pride jewelry and learn about the center, or they can visit online through the “NIU LGBT Resource Center” Facebook group to talk with resource center staff members and take a virtual tour.

LGBT History Month will continue throughout October with discussions, the popular “Do Ask, Do Tell” sticker day, the LGBT Studies Third Thursday series and more. The month will conclude with the annual Creating Community fall reception Thursday, Oct. 30.

Full details about these and all other events are available by calling (815) 753-5428, e-mailing or visiting the LGBT Resource Center Web site at

Flu shots offered

NIU will offer free flu shots to any full- or part-time faculty or staff with health care coverage through one of the State of Illinois Health Care Plans, including the HMO. Retired employees and survivors with State of Illinois health care coverage, not yet eligible for Medicare, also are eligible.

Flu shots will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center and again from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13.

Participants must present a state health insurance card and NIU OneCard ID to receive a free flu shot. Adult dependents and others also can receive flu shots at a cost of $35 each. Flu shots for children younger than 19 must be received at the DeKalb County Health Department.

For more information, call (815) 753-9191.

CLA hosts Oct. 9 workshop
on land use, development

NIU’s Civic Leadership Academy begins its 2008-09 programming season Thursday, Oct. 9.

“Fundamentals of Economic Development and Land Use Planning: Conflicting or Parallel Goals – Exploring the Role of Government” will present insights into economic development and the role governments increasingly play in this critical piece of community health.

Recent trends and debates in approaches, tools and the relationship between land-use decisions, plan­ning, zoning and other regulatory frameworks also will be covered.

The workshop will provide participants with key concepts and models of eco­nomic development and land use planning which, coupled with realistic expectations and strategies, will equip participants with a foundation for supporting their own existing economic development strategies or to imple­ment changes where needed.

Co-presenters are Bob Gleeson, director of Center for Governmental Studies and associate director of Regional Development Institute; Mike Peddle, associate professor of public administration; and Roger Dahlstrom, assistant director and senior research associate for the Center for Governmental Studies.

Registration and more information about CLA workshops are available online.

University Women’s Club
to hold annual fall open house

The University Women’s Club of NIU will hold its annual fall open house from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the home of President and Mrs. Peters, 901 Woodlawn, DeKalb.

The University Women’s Club invites every woman associated with the university, whether she is a current or retired faculty or staff member, or the wife of a current, retired or deceased faculty or staff member, to join this long-standing organization of NIU women.

Meet people with a common interest in NIU, participate in distinct interest groups, enjoy social events and support the club’s philanthropic endeavor of providing scholarships to deserving NIU women students.

Kishwaukee Concert Band
to perform Oct. 19 concert

The Greater Kishwaukee Area Concert Band will present “Going Through Europe” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, which is accessible to all. Conductor John Hansen has selected music from different parts of Europe for this free “tour.”

Open to anyone age 18 and older who has played a wind or percussion instrument in the past, this all-volunteer band requires no auditions. Rehearsals are held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday evenings in the Huntley Middle School band room in DeKalb.

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

Networking fair to highlight
diverse suppliers, services

NIU’s Supplier Diversity Networking Fair 2008 will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.

The fair presents business enterprises owned by minorities, females and/or persons with disabilities exhibiting their commodities, supplies and services to NIU faculty, staff and student organization officers. More than 50 diverse businesses will be represented at the fair.

Services and products offered by these vendors include catering, advertising, printing services, marketing/promotional services and much more. Compare and sample a wide variety of products and services in a low-key, non-pressured setting.

There is no cost to attend the fair. A free brunch buffet will be served throughout the morning.

Register in advance by e-mailing or register at the door. For more information, call Tara Mitchell at (815) 753-1649 or e-mail questions to

International Programs seeks
nominations for 2008 awards

The NIU Division of International Programs is seeking nominations for two awards that will be presented this fall during the annual International Recognition Reception.

The “Outstanding International Educator Award” honors an NIU faculty or staff member who has contributed significantly toward international education at the university. The Division of International Programs for the first time this year will recognize the award recipient with a travel reimbursement of $500. 

The 2008 award recipient will have made sustained contributions to the enhancement of international education at NIU through teaching, research, public service and student-service efforts.

Joseph Grush, vice provost for resource planning, will speak at this year’s International Recognition Reception, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, in the Holmes Student Center Sky Room.

The second major honor, the award for Outstanding Contribution to International Education at NIU, recognizes the academic unit or support unit that made the most significant contribution toward international education on campus during the last academic year. Last year, the award was won by the Department of Political Science; Marketing Professor Dan Weilbaker was recognized as the Outstanding International Educator.

The deadline for this year’s award nominations in both categories is Friday, Oct. 17.

More information on the awards and nomination forms is available online or by calling Sara Clayton at (815) 753-9526.

NPR plans fall membership drive

Northern Public Radio (89.5 WNIJ) invites participation in its fall membership campaign, scheduled for the week of Oct. 17 to Oct. 24.

A growing percentage of the station’s annual budget comes directly from listener-members and local business support.

Those who wish to volunteer some time answering pledge calls at the DeKalb studio, 801 N. First St., can contact Diane Drake at for available shifts.

Northern Public Radio is the broadcast service of NIU.

Conference will introduce
young women to careers

Female high school students interested in exploring career options and learning more about the academic side of college life are invited to attend the 2008 Conference for Young Women, hosted by Northern Illinois University from 8:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at the Holmes Student Center.

Now in its 13th year, this popular conference has been praised by many participants with varied interests and backgrounds.

The conference introduces young women in their sophomore through senior years of high school to a variety of career areas, including professions where women have been historically underrepresented, and provides opportunities to interact with successful women faculty and NIU students.

This year’s conference includes a panel discussion on career opportunities for women; presentations by faculty on topics related to women’s collegiate experiences and career options; tours of the NIU campus; and lunch with NIU faculty, professionals and students. Conference speakers will focus on career opportunities in fields ranging from computer programming and politics to law enforcement, sports training and business management. 

“I received information on the 2008 Conference for Young Women, and I think it is a wonderful event,” said Candace Gardner, mother of two former conference participants. “The campus experience was very inspiring for my two older daughters as they were leaving high school and searching for life direction.”

The conference is sponsored by the NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Women’s Studies Program. Registration is available online or by calling (800) 345-9472.

The registration fee is $43. Limited scholarships are available. For additional information, call (815) 753-1038.

PRP nominations sought

Nominations are being sought for NIU’s 2009 Presidential Research Professorships, which recognize outstanding accomplishment and future potential in academic research or creative artistry.

Faculty members may be nominated, or may initiate their own candidacy, by submitting letters of nominations or self-nominations to James Erman, interim vice president for research, by Monday, Oct. 20.

The nomination and self-nomination letters must include the candidate’s qualifications in accordance with the award specifications. Four complete sets of application materials must then be submitted to Erman’s office by Monday, Nov. 10.

Up to three new Presidential Research Professors are designated each year. Upon appointment, each award recipient will receive a base-salary increment of $2,000.

Additionally, a grant of $5,000 will be provided during each year of the appointment, provided the recipient remains a full-time NIU faculty member. The grant money is to be used for scholarly activities. Award recipients also receive one semester of release from teaching and other non-research responsibilities. 

More detailed information on the award and on the call for nominations can be found at