Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today - August 31, 2009

Crafting Maya Identity

New exhibition at NIU will lend credibility
to emerging art form in northern Yucatán

Some art historians scoff at the notion of conducting academic research into the wood carvings sold to tourists at various archeological sites in the Puuc region of Yucatán, Mexico.

In their estimation, the pieces are new, cheap and almost exclusively derivative “replicas.” They are derogatory in their descriptions of the sculptures, spouting pejoratives such as “tourist art,” “handiwork” or “kitsch.”

Jeff Kowalski and Mary Katherine Scott are not among those art historians.

Kowalski, a professor of art history in the NIU School of Art, and Scott, who earned her master’s degree here and now is a scholar at the Sainsbury Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, are the driving forces behind a new exhibition opening today in the Jack Olson Gallery.

“Crafting Maya Identity: Contemporary Wood Sculptures from the Puuc Region of Yucatán, Mexico,” considers the work of four contemporary artisans and how their emerging artistic tradition reflects their heritage as it communicates the evolving nature of their cultural identity.

The exhibition of pieces by Miguel Uc Delgado, Jesús Marcos Delgado Kú, Angel Ruíz Novelo and Wilbert Vázquez will remain open through Friday, Sept. 25.

“These images are from the past, but the people who are producing them are living in the present,” Kowalski said.

“If our visitors know something about the ancient culture or civilization of the Maya, either from reading, watching an occasional TV special or having seen articles on the Maya in National Geographic, they will recognize many of the images in these wood carvings as what might be called iconic images of ancient Maya art.”

“It’s really interesting. (The artists) look at stone carvings, take those images, reproduce them with a different material and then turn around and sell them,” Scott told Northern Today in 2006. “Visitors (to the archeological sites) might not know the significance of those pieces.”

Kowalski, Scott and the School of Art are doing all they can to expose that significance.

A scholarly symposium on issues of globalization, tourism, cultural identity, authenticity and art is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, at Barsema Hall. Presenters include Nelson Graburn, Janet Berlo, Christopher Steiner, Quetzil Castañeda as well as Kowalski and Scott.

The event is free and open to the public; those who plan to attend should call (815) 753-1474. A lunch can be reserved for $8.

Meanwhile, the NIU Press has published a book-length exhibition catalog that includes essays from internationally known scholars that explores those same questions. Scott and Kowalski, who wrote the principal text, originally intended to write the entire catalog but expanded it as they realized the rich assortment of papers available.

The exhibition and symposium became a catalyst for this year’s theme for ARTLab, a parallel year-long interdisciplinary project of the School of Art that will employ research, dialogue, programming and pedagogy to focus on the local impact of globalization and its effect on the production and perception of cultural meaning.

For her part, Scott became immersed in this world when she traveled to Mexico a few years ago to learn more about the artworks and the artisans.

Her preparation included gaining a knowledge of their language – Yucatec-Maya, an indigenous language from pre-Hispanic times that is still spoken by about 700,000 people in the Yucatán
Peninsula – that allowed her to conduct interviews.

Those lessons came via the Consortium for Latin American Studies between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

“It’s like any kind of relationship you build with someone. If someone is not a native speaker in your language, it’s harder for them to open up to you. It’s harder for them to articulate what they want to say,” Scott said in 2006.

“For me to do interviews with these people when I’m more fluent in their own language would make them more comfortable. It shows them I’m serious about what I’m doing and that I want to create a comfortable atmosphere in which to learn about their culture, their beliefs and their artistic motivations.”

What she obtained laid the foundation for her master’s thesis and, ultimately, the current exhibition.

As her thesis developed, Kowalski felt that “Mary Katherine could make a real contribution to the field on the limits of art, the nature of art, how decisions are made about what counts as art.”

“She was trying to understand how the study of a field of art that traditionally was considered on the low end of the art spectrum, like other forms of visual culture, was gaining greater esteem and being taken more seriously by both art historians and anthropologists,” he added. “As a result, she and I put a proposal to the School of Art that we organize an exhibition of these sculptures.”

The four artisans are skilled part-time carvers who make their living as caretakers of, or tour guides at, the archeological sites. Although they understand their pieces function mainly as souvenirs, priced anywhere from $25 to $400, they are proud of their work and regard it as an outlet for creative expression.

“They’ve given these iconic images a new life by creating very well-made and very finely carved replicas or adaptations, created not for ancient Maya kings but for tourists,” Kowalski said.

“The artists recognize that the audience to whom they’re aiming these works are responding to them as tangible, possibly collectible, memories of their experiences,” he added. “But they also do create pieces that are deliberately modified – specifically somewhat more inventive – re-creations of creative arrangements of forms based on their own aesthetic statement.”

Kowalski and Scott are grateful for financial support from the NIU Foundation’s Venture Grant program, the Target Corp., the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, the School of Art, the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, the Latino Resource Center and the Department of Anthropology.

For more information, call (815) 753-1474 or visit the exhibition Web site at

New School of Art ‘themed year’
to examine globalism through art

For two years, chatter spread through the School of Art about one of the intriguing premises of an exhibition being prepared for the Jack Olson Gallery.

With the opening today of “Crafting Maya Identity,” visitors now can gain perspective into how tourism can impact a local culture. In this case, it’s examined through the northern Yucatán wood carvings made strictly for sale as souvenirs while still managing to reflect and honor an ancient heritage.

Meanwhile, throughout the next year, members of the campus community can immerse themselves in a larger exploration of that idea through what organizers call “an active think-tank or incubator.”

“ARTLab” is a new and interdisciplinary project in the School of Art that encourages faculty across colleges to collaborate on work related to the chosen theme and to participate in research, dialogue, programming and pedagogy.

Faculty in the School of Art have worked for years to create such opportunities for collaborative projects that “put culture into action” through their relevance to current issues and events.

A biweekly “salon series” begins Friday, Sept. 11, providing an open forum for conversation and collaboration from 3 to 5 p.m., usually inside the Jack Olson Gallery.

“ARTLab’s theme for 2009-2010 is inspired by our colleagues, Jeff Kowalski and Mary Katherine Scott, and their ‘Crafting Maya Identity’ exhibition. We started thinking about the impact of tourism and travel on local identity, and then we got started by selecting the theme ‘Globalization and Cultural Identity,’ ” said Barbara Jaffee, an associate professor of art history.

“What we have done is to create a year of programming that will encourage faculty in our school, where we have art educators, art historians, studio and media artists and designers, to work on something collaboratively and also with colleagues across campus.”

Jaffee surfed through various NIU departmental homepages in search of faculty who might have an interest in investigating the ARTLab theme for 2009-10.

“Nobody turned me down. Every person I talked to was very excited about participating. That has me quite encouraged,” she said. “We have a tremendous reach and breadth across campus of people working on issues on our themes.”

Those people will come together Friday, Oct. 23, for an all-day symposium in the Pollock Ballroom of the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

The “ARTLab event” is a day of presentations that will showcase the diversity of colleagues. Three panel discussions, a lecture and a musical performance are on the schedule.

The first morning panel, “Shaping Space,” features Sinclair Bell (art history), Peter Magnusson (marketing) and Richard Greene (geography). The second panel, “Situating Practice,” features Kryssi Staikidis (art education), Christine LoFaso (studio art) and Linda Saborio (Spanish language and literature). The afternoon panel, “Negotiating Culture,” features Katharine Wiegele (anthropology), Abu Bah (sociology), E. Taylor Atkins (history) and Sarah Evans (art history).

Music professor Gregory Beyer and the NIU Percussion Ensemble will play immediately after a provided lunch.

Brian Holmes, a cultural critic and social activist based in Chicago and Paris, will give the 3:30 p.m. keynote address: “Is it Written in the Stars? Transforming Our Precarious Destinies.” Holmes also will present a pre-symposium seminar at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Jack Olson Gallery on “overcoming the political neutralization of professional specialization and breathing life into the abstraction of global infrastructures.”

The regular salon schedule:

  • Sept. 11: a screening of Oregon artist Julie Green’s “The Big World”
  • Sept. 25: readings about globalization and globalism in the art world
  • Oct. 9: Aleksandra Giza
  • Nov. 6: photographer Andrew Liccardo’s “Globalism in Our Backyard”
  • Nov. 20: Phillipe Willems (French language and literature) presents “Bande dessinée (comic strips) and High Culture” in the Visual Arts Building’s Gallery 214
  • Dec. 4: readings

In the spring semester, a team-taught graduate seminar (ART 680) will extend ARTLab into the classroom. Readings in non-traditional exhibition practices, from Dada to the present, will supplement workshops with ARTLab faculty associates.

The Jack Olson Gallery will host experimental displays produced by the class as well as “HOME,” a functional “global village” made of locally collected recycled materials. The project is coordinated by NIU alum Neraldo de la Paz and Alain Guerra, a Cuban-born, Miami-based artist team known as “Guerra de la Paz.”

March will bring another exhibition that will display the results of the first year’s collaborations.

“ARTLab will be annual,” Jaffee said. “We’re already brainstorming possible themes for 2010-11.”

For more information about ARTlab, visit or e-mail

Cotsones to concentrate liaison duties
on Rockford’s challenges, opportunities

Rena Cotsones, NIU’s longtime executive director of community relations, has a new and exclusive focus: Rockford.

Thanks to a recent appointment made by President John Peters, who calls the Forest City a place with a “unique set of challenges and opportunities,” Cotsones is now assistant vice president for regional engagement/Rockford.

Cotsones moves from the Office of Community Relations to the Division of Administration and University Outreach, under the direction of Vice President Anne Kaplan.

“Rena will serve as the university’s Rockford-based champion for the engagement of NIU in the region. I am confident Rena's strong regional network, leadership ability and collaborative manner will make her successful in this new role,” Peters wrote in a memo to top university administrators.

“I know that many colleges are actively engaged in the Rockford area,” the president continued, “and I encourage (them) to work closely with Rena to ensure that we have a full understanding of not only the wide range of existing projects and activities, but opportunities for new ones as well.”

“I’m excited to be a part of  NIU’s continuing commitment to the region,” said Cotsones, who has called the Rock River Valley home since the mid-1980s, when she moved there after college to take a reporting job at WIFR-Channel 23 television.

“The NIU-Rockford outreach center and the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic are two tangible signs of NIU’s investment and commitment to the Rockford area, and there are countless projects from most of our colleges going on in the community,” she added. “I look forward to ensuring the university has a more comprehensive understanding of our existing projects, then building on those to enhance NIU’s engagement in the Rockford community.”

Peters has charged Cotsones and Kaplan to create a comprehensive engagement strategy for Rockford, a blue-collar city still seeking its place in the modern marketplace.

Times are tough everywhere, but nowhere more in Illinois than in Rockford, which has registered the state’s highest unemployment rate for 18 consecutive months. The July number stands at 15.1 percent, a point higher than Rockford’s June figure.

Only 20 percent of Rockford residents age 25 and older hold bachelor’s degrees or higher. The median household income is less than $39,000.

Fortunately, Cotsones brings a rich understanding of Rockford’s economy to the table.

She worked as executive vice president of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce before coming to NIU, and has remained active with the chamber as well as the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she is the immediate past chair.

“NIU’s leadership in the region has been clear for a long time. Several years ago, NIU joined with Rock Valley College, Rockford College and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford to form HEARRR – the Higher Education Alliance of the Rock River Region, and we continue to work with these institutions and other partners to help the region position itself for success in the new economy,” Cotsones said.

“I personally have been involved for two decades in this region,” she said, “and I feel fortunate that I will have the opportunity to be even more substantively involved in this new role.”

Janyce Fadden, president of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and an NIU alumna, said the city will welcome NIU’s intensified attention and commitment.

“I’m thrilled about the decision. It gives us an opportunity to have a central person to work with – to identify as NIU – and to have NIU penetrate further and bring more of its wonderful assets up here to help our region. We’ll move even faster because of the selection of Rena and through the reputation she’s built in the Rockford marketplace,” Fadden said.

“The timing is perfect. We’re a very distressed region,” Fadden added, mentioning the July unemployment statistics. “Higher education completion is one of our biggest challenges to overcome in the market. For NIU to step up in times like these and say, ‘We’re making an investment in Rockford,’ is very commendable.”

NIU’s congressional interns
rewarded with scholarships

Matthew Venaas wins Paul Simon Award

They worked long days, experienced the inner workings of U.S. government and rubbed shoulders with the likes of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

For the three NIU students who interned this past summer in Washington, D.C., the experience did not disappoint.

What’s more, the Illinois State Society awarded scholarships for the current school year to each of the NIU seniors. Hunter Huffman and Nma “Winnie” Okafor both were awarded $750, while the society gave its $1,500 Paul Simon Award to Matthew Venaas.

The Paul Simon Award is given to the top intern from Illinois, selected from a pool of at least 50 Illinois college students who worked in D.C. this summer.

“The fact that all three of us applied for and received scholarships reflects very well on the university,” said Venaas, who also is beginning a term as the elected student representative to the NIU Board of Trustees.

Venaas, an Ottawa native majoring in political science, interned with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (14th District), working 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday. He gave tours of the Capitol to constituents, drafted constituent letters and conducted research on issues, among other tasks.

“On the Hill, you never know who you might bump into,” Venaas said. “I was giving a tour when Nancy Pelosi walked right past us.

“We also had the opportunity to attend an intern lecture series, where we met people like Arlen Specter, Ralph Nader and (U.S. Rep.) Barney Frank. It was a phenomenal experience.”

Interns also were encouraged to attend committee hearings and briefings on particular issues.

“I was privileged to attend several hearings on topics of international magnitude,” said Okafor, a native of Nigeria who interned with U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (3rd District). “I attended a hearing on the challenges of closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison, on food aid to Africa, on farming assistance programs to Africa and on the illegal immigration issues affecting Mexico and the United States.”

Okafor said she met college students from across the country who also were serving as interns. The NIU students and many other interns lived in housing provided by George Washington University, located in the center of Washington, D.C., just a short walk from the Capitol.

“I enjoyed interacting with peers of great caliber on an intellectual level,” said Okafor, a political science major. “We exchanged ideas and thoughts on the various pressing issues of our time. I also had the opportunity to interact with staffers – many of whom are the bright minds working behind-the-scenes on the current health care reform issue.”

Huffman, a Naperville native majoring in international politics and philosophy, interned with U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo (16th District).

“I’ve learned so much more than I could have sitting through a classroom lecture,” Huffman said. “Now when I read about political theories or the legislative process, I understand exactly how laws are formed and shaped and implemented. It’s like a fog has been lifted.”

Huffman said he shook hands with Nader, among other political celebrities. He also squeezed in visits to the Holocaust Museum, Native American Museum and other Washington, D.C., sites.

But what fascinated him most was the whole political process. “The politics is where the governance is made effective,” he said. “It’s the best way to advocate for what you care about.”

The experience also changed his future plans.

“Congressman Manzullo is a big proponent of the Peace Corps,” Huffman said. “After talking with him, I decided to send in a Peace Corps application.”

NIU political scientist Matthew Streb and department chair Christopher Jones worked with President John Peters and Vice President for University Relations Kathryn Buettner to establish the congressional internship program this year.

After a competitive application process, each of the three NIU students was awarded a $5,000 scholarship to defray the costs associated with the internships.

“The program was a huge success,” Streb said. “And we’re expanding it for next year by offering five scholarships.”

Information about the 2010 internship scholarships will be posted in the future on the Department of Political Science Web site.

Former Provost Moody helped lead
NIU through turbulent time in 1990s

Former Provost J. Carroll Moody, a champion of NIU faculty and students who helped successfully defend the university from state efforts in the 1990s to eliminate academic programs, died Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Moody had suffered for several years from Alzheimer’s disease, according to his family. He was 75.

An historian who specialized in American economic and labor history, Moody joined the NIU faculty in 1968 and spent 31 years at the university. Beginning in 1974, he served as chair of the Department of History for a decade and later as the executive secretary of the University Council and president of NIU’s Faculty Senate.

Then NIU President John LaTourette named Moody acting provost in 1992. Two years later, after a national search, he was named provost. Moody held the post until his retirement in 1999.

“Carroll was chosen to become provost, I’m sure, because he was so completely trusted by the faculty and all who worked with him,” said Lynne Waldeland, who served as assistant provost under Moody. “His strong academic values and his calm demeanor were very much what the university needed at that time.”

During the early 1990s, the state launched its Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative, or PQP, which sought to eliminate a number of academic programs at NIU and other public universities across the state.

“His leadership style was open and warm, and these were essential qualities when he had to shepherd NIU through the PQP process,” Waldeland said. “Carroll was a firm believer in sharing information, trusting that people would make better decisions if they understood the situation. It was that leadership that saw us through the challenges of PQP, helping us to save most of the targeted programs and to avoid some of the internal turmoil that could so easily have been a consequence of such a process.”

Moody also oversaw the merger of the divisions of Academic and Student Affairs and convened a task force that worked to improve the undergraduate experience at NIU.

A native of Abilene, Texas, Moody earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Corpus Christi State University, a master’s degree from Texas A & I University in Kingsville and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. He came to NIU with experience and top credentials – along with a dry sense of humor and a hint of Texas in his voice. Personable and easy going, he made friends easily among faculty and worked closely with students, directing numerous theses and dissertations.

Deborah Haliczer, NIU director of employee relations, was a graduate student in history when Moody was department chair.

“Students liked Carroll as chair, and he got to know them,” she said. “He was a southern gentleman who could be charming, incisive, interesting and knowledgeable. He was funny, too, but he never hesitated to speak out about situations that were of concern to him. He was a person who supported justice for all students and employees.”

Carolyn Moody, his wife of 55 years, described her husband as a family man who loved NIU and the DeKalb area, where the couple raised their children.

“He loved the history faculty – that’s why he came to NIU in the first place,” Carolyn Moody said. “He made good friends and really enjoyed working with students. Later, when he became provost, he maintained a good rapport with faculty.”

Deputy Provost Harold Kafer said Moody’s spirit of collegiality left a lasting imprint on NIU.

“Carroll wound up having the opportunity to replace almost all of the academic deans,” said Kafer, who was hired in 1995 by Moody as dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “He managed to build a group of leaders who collectively made collaboration across the colleges a hallmark of this institution – something that hasn’t gone unnoticed at the national level.

“Of the many things one can say about Carroll’s legacy, this spirit of collegiality has to be among the most important of his contributions,” Kafer added. “The culture he created has continued and become an important part of the fabric of the institution.”

In addition to his wife, Moody is survived by five children, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A private service was held Monday, Aug. 24, in Port Aransas, Texas. The family requested that memorials in his honor be made to Alzheimer’s research.

Literacy Clinic helps more than 100 children
bridge summer interruption in reading, writing

Children love summer vacation but, for many, the months away from school can erode their academic abilities.

That’s not true, however, of the more than 100 children who received free tutoring through America Reads. The NIU Literacy Clinic offered the federally funded initiative for six weeks during June and July, providing the one-on-one tutoring.

“Summer is a time when children oftentimes lose some of the skills they’ve acquired in school,” said Laurie Elish-Piper, director of the clinic and a Presidential Teaching Professor in the Department of Literacy Education. “It’s important for them to keep reading and writing and practicing in the summer so, when they return to school in the fall, they’ve been able to maintain their skills.”

For the clinic, located inside the NIU Family Health, Wellness and Literacy Center on Sycamore Road, it made for a busy place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Young readers came from local schools, including Brooks, Chesebro, Cortland, Jefferson and Littlejohn, and from nearby towns such as Kingston, Kirkland, Somonauk and Waterman. NIU undergraduate students worked as tutors, working with each child for two hours each week. A grant from Jewel-Osco provided snacks.

This summer marked the largest summer edition of America Reads at NIU.

The NIU Literacy Clinic has provided America Reads services for several years as an afterschool program during the fall, winter and spring months. Those services also are provided in several DeKalb elementary schools during the school day.

“We definitely consider this summer a success. Many students made great progress in their reading and writing, and the feedback from their parents was extremely positive,” Elish-Piper said. “We would like to continue to offer this program in future summers.”

“The tutors really carried the ball this summer,” added America Reads coordinator Wendy McBride, a graduate student in the Department of Literacy Education. “They took their training seriously and approached each session with incredible enthusiasm and excitement. It was infectious. The children raced in every day, eager to see what the tutors had planned.”

The clinic also used the summer to bring literacy support to Spanish-speaking children. A grant from the DeKalb-Sycamore chapter of Altrusa purchased the bilingual materials.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of children in our local schools who speak Spanish as a primary language,” Elish-Piper said. “We know how important it is to provide tutoring to them in their native language while also building their skills in English.”

Call (815) 753-1416 for more information.

NIU will hold workshops on how to use
robotic telescopes accessible via Internet

Calling all astronomy buffs.

NIU STEM Outreach will hold two upcoming workshops that will allow participants to capture spectacular photographs and explore the heavens using high-tech robotic telescopes that can be accessed online.

The workshops, titled Capture the Colorful Cosmos, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 12, and Saturday, Sept. 19, in NIU’s Digital Convergence Laboratory at Founders Memorial Library.

Registration is limited. Participants will attend both workshops and must be at least 10 years old. They are encouraged to register with a partner.

During the Sept. 12 workshop, participants will learn about telescopes, light and filters. They also will be able to request images from the MicroObservatory, a network of five automated telescopes that can be controlled via the Internet. Free software that allows users to manipulate MicroObservatory images also will be provided.

“The MicroObservatory’s telescopes are high-tech and can track astronomical objects for up to a minute,” says Patricia Sievert, STEM Outreach coordinator. “When you open a camera in a telescope for a full minute, it collects more light and more information.

“We’ll be teaching participants how to use special processing software that helps pull information out of the raw images, which at first might not look like much. Photographs can be taken through three color filters, and the software helps bring out all the objects in the picture, such as planets, star groupings or nebula. The resulting images can be spectacular.”

The robotic telescopes are operated by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, with funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA. The telescope network is designed to enable students and teachers nationwide to investigate the wonders of the deep sky from their classrooms.

Users of MicroObservatory are responsible for taking their own images by selecting the celestial object to be photographed, selecting exposure times, filters and other parameters. The educational value lies not just in the image returned by the telescope, but in the satisfaction and practical understanding that comes from mastering a powerful scientific tool.

During the Sept. 19 workshop, participants will download and process their images and create an exhibit to be displayed at DeKalb and Sycamore public libraries later this fall.

Sievert encourages parents to register for the workshops with their children in middle school and high school. Capture the Colorful Cosmos is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. For more information or to register online, visit

NIU’s STEM Outreach delivers off-campus programs and on-campus activities designed to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and enthusiasm among students, their families and educators. The STEM Outreach office provides a central place to find information on the numerous outreach programs offered by NIU’s colleges and STEM departments.


NIU anthropologist Giovanni Bennardo has a new book out through Cambridge University Press.

“Language, Space, and Social Relationships: A Foundational Cultural Model in Polynesia” examines the relationship between language and the mental organization of knowledge, based on the results of Bennardo’s fieldwork project carried out in the Kingdom of Tonga.

The study of the relationship between language and thought, and how this apparently differs between cultures and social groups, is a rapidly expanding area of inquiry.

Bennardo’s book challenges some existing assumptions in linguistics, cognitive anthropology and cognitive science and proposes a new foundational cultural model, known as radiality, to show how space, time and social relationships are expressed both linguistically and cognitively.

Deborah Smith-Shank, professor of art education, was selected as a representative to the World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE) Summit that will take place in Newcastle, England, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.

The 2009 summit has two primary aims:

  • to prepare the WAAE’s contribution to the 2010 UNESCO World Conference in Arts Education
  • to develop the relationship between creative pedagogies and the cultivation of knowledge-based societies that nurture sustainable development, global solidarity, cooperation and human rights through strategic partnerships between the WAAE, industry, civil society and government representatives.

State of the University Address
scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 10

President John G. Peters will present his annual State of the University Address at 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009, in the auditorium of Altgeld Hall.

Members of the NIU community should make plans to attend this informative presentation. The president’s address also is streamed live on the Internet at

Direct questions or concerns to the Office of Special Events at (815) 753-1999 or via e-mail at

LGBT Resource Center to host Open House Days

NIU’s campus community is invited to Open House Days at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, through Thursday, Sept. 3.

The LGBT Resource Center is located inside Room 706 of the Holmes Student Center.

In addition to learning about the center and meeting the staff, visitors can make rainbow sand art bottles or postcards for the “Art of Liberation” community art project.

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

Community School invites children
to popular ‘Art Express’ program

Introduce your child to the wonderful world of art this fall in the popular Art Express class, offered by the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Children create original works of art in this fun and intensive class taught by NIU School of Art education students. This class is offered for children ages 4 to 12 and meets from 1 to 3 p.m. for five Saturdays beginning Sept. 12. All materials are supplied.

Teachers are students in the art education program at NIU; they are supervised by faculty. The curriculum changes every semester.

Contact the office (Room 132 of the Music Building) for an application form. For more information, call (815) 753-1450 or visit

Nominations invited for Lincoln Laureates

Administrators, faculty and staff are invited to nominate an outstanding NIU student for the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award. The NIU Student Laureate will represent the university at a special ceremony in the Illinois State Capitol this fall.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, Sept. 14.

To be considered, a student must be an undergraduate who will graduate during the 2009-10 academic year (December 2009, May 2010 or August 2010). The NIU Student Laureate should have an NIU grade point average of 3.5 or higher and should have demonstrated leadership in extracurricular activities.

Visit for more information about this prestigious honor and to access the nomination form.

Give children fundamental motor
skills through KNPE program 

NIU’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education will offer an early-childhood motor development program.

The eight-week program for children ages 3 to 5 runs from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays from Monday, Sept. 14, through Wednesday, Nov. 4. The program costs $100 and is held in Anderson Hall.

The program curriculum includes learning movement concepts, developing fundamental motor skills, coordination, swimming and rhythmical abilities as well as games and fitness, program director Clersida Garcia said.

For more information, call Garcia at (815) 753-1400 or e-mail

Community School offers lessons
on piano, guitar for adults, children

Fulfill your lifelong desire to learn to play an instrument while getting to know other like-minded adults at the NIU Community School of the Arts this fall.

All classes take place in the Music Building.

“Group Piano for Adults” is a group class for beginning piano students ages 18 and older. The class meets from 6:15 to 7:10 p.m. for 12 Mondays beginning Sept. 14. Teacher Susan Breitner Hurm is a longtime piano teacher who has experience teaching children and adults. She teaches Suzuki and traditional piano lessons for the community school.

“Guitar Basics” teaches the fundamentals of guitar for adults and teens ages 13 and older. Beginning Sept. 16, the class meets from 6 to 6:55 p.m. for 12 Wednesdays. Teacher Quentin Dover is a graduate of NIU and has taught children and adults for many years. A second section of this class also is available for children ages 9 to 12 from 5 to 5:55 p.m.

“Electric Guitar for Beginners” is a new class offered this fall for those ages 14 and older who want to transition to or learn the electric guitar. The class meets for six Mondays, beginning Oct. 5. Teacher Lisa Baker is a graduate student at NIU where she studies with Fareed Haque. She has taught and performed for many years in Nashville.

These and many other classes and ensembles are offered at the NIU Community School of the Arts this fall. The office is located on campus in Room 132 of the Music Building. For more information, call (815) 753-1450 or visit

PTP nominations sought

All letters of nomination for the 2010 Presidential Teaching Professorships should be submitted to Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver, Office of the Provost, Altgeld Hall 220, no later than Monday, Sept. 28.

Following receipt of a letter of nomination, the selection committee will invite each nominated faculty member to prepare materials in accordance with the published procedure. Only full professors with tenure and at least six years of service at NIU are eligible for the award. The Presidential Teaching Professorships were established in 1990 to recognize those outstanding teachers who have demonstrated over time that they:

  • instill and develop in students an intensity of inter­est in, and an apprecia­tion for, the value of the subject;
    apply rigorous standards to student performance, in­spire students to become the best that they can be, and stimulate student growth;
  • command respect and esteem as a teacher rather than merely being popular;
  • demonstrate extraordinary commitment to students and their welfare, not only that the nominee is knowledge­able and prepared for class but is available to them outside of class for help with materials, for advising them, for listening to their concerns, and for assist­ing them with extra-class projects or activities;
  • explore and develop effective instructional methods and technologies;
  • work actively with students, faculty, and administra­tors to improve under­graduate and/or graduate education at NIU, and other activities directed toward the im­provement of instruction.

The procedure calls for a rigorous and thorough portfolio review including contacting former students. The 2010 recipients will be announced next spring.

Speaker will explain impact
of exercise on literacy, learning

Paul Zientarski, chair of the Department of Physical Education at Naperville Central High School, will speak Wednesday, Sept. 30, on “Understanding the Science Behind the Impact of Exercise on Literacy and Learning.”

Zeintarski’s lecture is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in DuSable Hall 204.

The speech is sponsored by NIU’s Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy (CISLL). For more information, e-mail

Nominations sought for 2009-10 BOT professors

Provost Ray Alden has called for nominations for the 2009-10 NIU Board of Trustees Professorships. Nominations are due Friday, Sept. 25.

The professorships were established in 2007 by President John Peters and the Board of Trustees to recognize those tenured professors who:

  • have achieved a consistent record of excellence in teaching, scholarship or artistry, service and outreach and academic leadership;
  • have earned a national or international reputation for professional achievements;
  • and are deemed likely to make continued and substantial contributions in higher education.

In considering the qualifications of nominees, special emphasis will be placed upon those who are renowned scholars or artists and have engaged students in their research and/or other professional activities.

Up to three professorships can be awarded each academic year; the 2009-2010 awards will be made at the Faculty Awards Recognition Ceremony in April 2010. The recipients will receive a stipend of $10,000 per year that will be renewed annually during the five-year period term of appointment as Board of Trustee Professors.

The responsibilities of the professorship include delivering the Board of Trustees Professorship Lecture; participating in workshops for the professional development of junior faculty and in activities that advance the university’s reputation and mission; maintaining an active program of teaching, scholarship or artistry, and service; and submitting a report detailing activities and accomplishments during the award period.

Additional information about the nomination process and the professorships is available online. Application portfolios should be submitted electronically to the Office of the Provost, Kathleen Carey (

Women’s chorus offered

Women’s Chorus (AURA) is offered from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays in Room 171 of the Music Building.

This small choral ensemble is open to faculty, staff and students (both undergraduate and graduate) for one credit under course number MUSC 290 (undergraduate) and MUSC 590 (graduate).

The group will become a female vocal jazz ensemble this year, and the first program will feature songs made famous by great women jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holliday.

No auditions required. Music-reading is not essential, but a good ear for music is helpful. Call Director Glenda Cosenza at (815) 751-2301 with questions or for further information.

Community School of the Arts
begins classes, ensembles, lessons

NIU’s Community School of the Arts begins fall semester classes, ensembles and lessons in August and September. Information is available online and by mail about the many options for programs for children and adults.

The teachers in the community school are NIU arts faculty, professional teachers who live in the area and NIU students and graduate students, all of whom specialize in the area that they teach.

Traditional music lessons, taught on a weekly basis, are available on all instruments. Lessons using the Suzuki approach in violin, piano and guitar are available to young children. Group classes are taught in guitar and piano for adults and children. Music classes for young children are taught for children between the ages of 1 and 5.

Children and teens are invited to join a variety of ensembles, including a children’s chorus, a string ensemble, a full orchestra, a brass ensemble and a jazz band.

Financial aid is available for students 18 and younger who want to pursue their study of the arts, but who cannot afford the cost. Applications are available online and by calling the office. The application deadline for financial aid for fall semester is Monday, Aug. 31.

Learn more about the program, take a free sample music lesson or participate in a variety of classes and ensembles between 10 a.m. and noon Saturday, Aug. 29, at CSA O’Rama. All activities for CSA O’Rama take place in the Music Building at NIU. A full schedule is available online or by calling the office.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Approximately 80 teachers offer lessons on most musical instruments as well as in art and theater. More than 500 community people from nearly 50 towns and cities travel to DeKalb each semester for lessons and classes.

Call (815) 753-1450 or visit for more information. The NIU Community School of the Arts is located in Room 132 of the Music Building.

University Women to hold
annual fall reception Sept. 23

The University Women’s Club of NIU will hold its annual fall open house from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the home of President and Mrs. Peters, 901 Woodlawn Ave. in 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.

Art Museum opens three exhibitions

The Northern Illinois University Art Museum will open three exhibitions Tuesday, Aug. 25. All run through Saturday, Oct. 10. An opening reception is scheduled for 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept 10, with an artists’ talk planned at 6 p.m. in Altgeld Hall Room 315.

Elona Van Gent will present an artist talk at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Jack Arends Hall/Visual Arts
Building Room 111. Jessica Gondek will present a curator’s talk at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in the gallery.

  • Imperfect Models: Jessica Gondek, Paintings and Prints. Since the dawn of the machine age, artists have struggled with the dynamics of hand vs. machine, artificial vs. natural, and the dichotomy of traditional medium with the variety of expression that technology allows. The fall Art and Technology Suite highlights artists who embrace technology as a partner in their creative process. Jessica Gondek, curator of the group exhibition Dimensional Figures and Environments: Artists Engaging Technology and an asssociate professor at Loyola University, is featured. Gondek begins with compositions created via 3-D modeling programs that are then collaged and overprinted to reinterpret and humanize the computer-generated forms. The intermingling of hand and mechanical approaches in the work prompts a collision between intuition and computation.
  • Karen Hanmer, Retro Tech. Chicago artist Karen Hanmer looks back at early forms of technology to
    see their impact on us. Of her work, she writes: “My sculptural books and installations fragment and layer content to mirror the experience of personal and cultural memory.” Her History and Technology series of artist books link the creative process of the artist with that of the inventor, explorer or scientist through first person accounts and archival photographs and artifacts. She combines the ancient act of book-binding with the high-tech use of the computer to create her work.
  • Dimensional Figures and Environments: Artists Engaging Technology. This exhibition features three artists who conceive spaces and figures mediated through computer software tools as part of their creative vocabulary. Both Gerald Guthrie and Elona Van Gent use 3D-modeling software to develop sculpture, digital prints and animated works. Gloria DeFilipps Brush creates photographs from built models that are transformed using computer technology. These artists use technological art tools as partners in their image-making processes and forge new creative territory. New media such as digital printmaking and photography, rapid prototyping and animation are represented in the range of works included in the exhibition.

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

The exhibitions of the NIU Art Museum are funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum, and the Arts Fund 21. For more information, visit or call (815) 753-1936.