Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today - February 17, 2009

NIU pauses to remember Feb. 14, 2008

NIU spent Saturday, Feb. 14, in a day of reflection as the university community marked the one-year anniversary of the Cole Hall tragedy.

“One year after the worst day in our history, NIU remains determined to not let an act of violence define us,” President John Peters told a large crowd at a candlelight vigil.

“One year after the loss of five wonderful people, we have taken inspiration from stories of their lives and the strength of their characters. Twelve months after an unspeakable tragedy, we are much closer as a campus community – much more focused on each other. Random acts of kindness abound at a university where the only answer to hate is love.”

Saturday began with a memorial service inside the Convocation Center and ended with the vigil in the Martin Luther King Memorial Commons. The five recipients of the new “Forward, Together Forward” scholarships were honored at a noon luncheon.

A wreath-laying ceremony in the mid-afternoon, held at the site of the planned memorial garden near Cole Hall, came amid a number of art exhibitions inside the Holmes Student Center. Visitors saw photos and videos from a year ago as well as the pictures of “Images of Hope” and the postcards of “Huskie Acts of Kindness.”

Twenty-five hundred gathered in the morning to hear reassuring and motivational words from Peters and from Cherilyn G. Murer, chair of the NIU Board of Trustees, as they spoke of the last year: “Thousands of lives,” Murer said, “touched by five.”

“We discovered in our grief that we were sisters and brothers, united with loved ones and strangers, in the pursuit of healing,” Murer added. “We learned how to take care of others – and ourselves. We found in one another the strength to carry on, the compassion that allowed us to cry and the comfort that eventually dried our tears.”

They also heard music – a piano solo of Claude Debussy’s haunting “Clair de Lune” and the NIU alma mater – and witnessed a unique presentation called “The Legacy of Character.”

Five NIU theater majors told stories of the five beloved Huskies who lost their lives Feb. 14, 2008 – Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Daniel Parmenter – and read thoughts on the meaning of “character” from heroes and thinkers both legendary and contemporary. They also spoke of “Character in Action,” an accounting of the outpouring of love and support Feb. 14, 2008, and the days that followed.

“In the lives of those we have lost, in the determination of those who were saved, in the unselfish acts of kindness which abounded after our tragedy, in all that and much more, we have seen character defined and exemplified,” Peters said. “For me, the best definition of character I’ve ever heard is also one of the simplest, and it goes like this: ‘Character is what you do when you think no one is watching.’ ”

By day’s end, the cold and darkness of the Commons were met with the warmth of hugs and the glow of paper cups that held the ignited white candles.

Spontaneous back-and-forth chants of “Red!” and “Black!” gave voice to the “Forward, Together Forward” determination of students and staff as the anniversary drew near its close.

“The lighting of fire is an ancient ritual. We light candles to chase away the darkness, to illuminate our paths, to warm ourselves from the winter chill,” Peters said. “Tonight, let our flames burn bright – if even just for a minute – and let those lights send a message into the heavens. We are here. We love each other. We will never forget. We are NIU.”

President Peters offers thoughts
on campus life a year after Feb. 14

“Healing is a matter of time,” Hippocrates wrote, “but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

Northern Illinois University, I believe, is living proof of that piece of wisdom.

This is a changed place, yes, but a stronger place. Our hearts were broken, yes, but our resolve is fortified. We have glimpsed avenues for the repair and restoration of our souls, and we have turned down those roads. We have gripped the hands of those who have reached out to us, and we have rejoiced each time we felt a squeeze on our own outstretched hands.

A year after the unimaginable horror of Feb. 14, 2008, we mark this anniversary as the most somber of occasions.

Our day of pause and reflection comes, however, with the fiercest of determination to greet the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow with great excitement. Certainly we mourn our lost Huskies, and we continue to grieve with their families, but we also celebrate the survivors and the joy of life. Truly, we are moving “Forward, Together Forward.”

The simple passage of time presents us with numerous ways to heal, as our “Images of Hope” photo exhibition reveals. The springtime budding of trees, sprouting of flowers and greening of grass remind us that, just as nature returns to glory after a long and cold winter, we too can live life to its fullest despite the tremendous pain we have endured.

We have discovered the warmth of hugs. We have enjoyed the happiness of smiles. We have realized the mending power of tears. We have heard the optimism found in song. We have experienced the love found in community.

We not only embrace words such as character, courage, hope, kindness, recovery and renewal, but we strive to embody and promote them.

Our students are older and wiser in ways not typically offered in our lecture halls, laboratories and textbooks. The past year has profoundly deepened their understanding of the precious and fragile gift of life. Some might regard that a sad fact, but I do not. These students are more open. They are more caring. They are more loving.

Like all of the NIU family, I have spent the last year on an emotional journey. I visited hospital rooms and funeral homes. I stood on the stage of a standing-room-only Convocation Center as we wept and prayed and steeled ourselves for the coming days. I opened the doors of my office to students and parents, to residents of our DeKalb County towns, to lawmakers of all levels, to reporters from local newspapers and national television networks. I witnessed generosity and compassion. I collected inspiration and strength.

Not one day goes by when I do not think of Feb. 14, and of those five beautiful and beloved faces – Gayle, Catalina, Julianna, Ryanne and Dan, their names forever imprinted on my heart. I remember the red-and-black ribbons. I remember the “Forward, Together Forward” posters in the windows and the similar encouragement spelled out on the marquees of our hometown places of business and worship.

Yet every day I also think of the incredible promise found in each one of us; of the knowledge we are acquiring; of the discoveries we are making; of the public service we are extending. We are here to learn, and to teach. We are here to dream, and to succeed. We are here to make this campus, this community and this world a friendlier place.

We are here because, in spite of the tragedy of a year ago, we value the education NIU provides. We value its diversity. We value its freedom of speech and thought. We value its camaraderie of students, faculty and staff who are here to seek and achieve better lives for themselves, their families, their friends. We refuse to allow an act of violence to diminish or derail that.

This is the NIU that I know. This is the NIU that I love. This is the NIU that I am proud to call home. A new day awaits.

NIU unveils plans for ‘Memorial Garden’

Northern Illinois University will build a garden near Cole Hall, with a curved peaceful walkway and five illuminated sections of cardinal red granite, as a permanent memorial to victims of the Feb. 14, 2008, shootings on campus.

The plan for “Memorial Garden” was unveiled Saturday during events commemorating the tragedy one year ago. Those activities included a wreath-laying ceremony at the future garden site, located just east of Cole Hall.

Each of the five sections of granite making up the “Reflection Wall” will measure 10 feet in width by 4½ feet in height, and each will be engraved with the name of one of the five NIU students who lost their lives.

The stone sections also will prominently recall the “Forward, Together Forward” theme – words from the Huskie Fight Song that came to take on greater meaning for the NIU community in the wake of the tragedy.

More than 20 dawn redwood, white oak and evergreen trees will be planted at the site, which will also include benches for visitors. Additionally, a sculpture will be commissioned for Memorial Garden, which will be developed and completed over the course of the next year.

“In contrast to the events that occurred at Cole Hall a year ago today, this will forever be a special place of peace and reflection on our campus,” NIU President John Peters said. “Memorial Garden will honor the memories of the five students we lost that day, while at the same time embracing the resolute Huskie spirit characterized by ‘Forward, Together Forward.’ ”

A 40-member advisory committee – made up of NIU faculty, staff, students, alumni, annuitants, friends, supporters and community members – convened last spring to determine options for a fitting permanent memorial. The committee developed a set of criteria and reviewed more than 200 suggestions submitted by members of the NIU community.

Ultimately, the advisory Memorial Committee identified a peaceful garden and/or sculpture as the top memorial concepts. The group also recommended that the memorial be located within sight of Cole Hall, include the “Forward, Together Forward” theme and be easily accessible to the public. A memorial wall was also among the top concepts identified by the committee.

A smaller group headed by Jeff Daurer, director of capital budgeting and planning for the NIU Division of Finance and Facilities, then created the more detailed memorial plan. Representatives of HKM Architects + Planners, Inc. of Arlington Heights – which designed Barsema Hall, the Yordon Center and the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center – assisted the group, donating its time and expertise in landscape architecture and design.

Development of Memorial Garden, including the commissioning of a sculpture, is expected to cost about $150,000. It will be funded through private donations.

The DeKalb and Sycamore communities, each through their respective Chambers of Commerce, have already raised $66,000 toward the memorial, said Michael Malone, NIU vice president for university advancement and co-chair of the Memorial Committee.

Additionally, the NIU Alumni Association contributed $15,000, and gifts from other individuals have brought the total amount raised to nearly $120,000. (For information on making a contribution, call 815/753-1626).

“We’re very grateful to all the people who came forward and put their time, talents and resources toward this project,” Malone said.

“For those who experienced this tragedy, I think the memorial will have a significant emotional impact,” he said. “And, for those generations to come, Memorial Garden will serve as a very dignified reminder of how precious human life is.”

NIU chooses five outstanding students
as ‘Forward, Together Forward’ scholars

Five Northern Illinois University students with strong character, grand ambitions and intellectual curiosity are now recipients of the first-ever Forward, Together Forward scholarships.

Deanna Bach, Jacqueline Do, Scott Hudek, Justin Kuryliw and Grace Weidner, who share those qualities with the five students lost Feb. 14, 2008, each receive a one-time scholarship of $4,000.

“This is NIU’s most prestigious honor for students,” Provost Raymond Alden said. “These five are all highly involved, goal-oriented and motivated. They’re devoted to making NIU, and the world around them, a better place. They will carry on the memories and the good works of the five students to whom this scholarship is dedicated.”

“During Feb. 14, 2008, we all saw how strong the entire NIU family is. Reading through the applications just strengthened that notion,” added Dana Gautcher, NIU’s scholarship coordinator and financial retention advocate. “We truly have a tremendous number of students who are working hard and doing really wonderful things to better themselves and the lives of others.”

Seventy-one students applied for the scholarships. A committee of nine faculty and two students selected 15 of those as finalists, who then sat for interviews.

The applications asked for not only grade-point averages but awards, honors, achievements, community service, extracurricular involvement, employment experience, hobbies and special interests.

Hopefuls had to write short essays on what it means to be an NIU Huskie, their thoughts on character, their dreams and how they will honor the memories of Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Daniel Parmenter.

The unique set of requirements grew from an unsolicited outpouring of funding from friends of the university who wanted to memorialize the deceased students through a scholarship fund.

“The committee that came together decided the best way to do that was to recognize the attributes of these students,” Alden said.

“These scholarships are not based on simply academic records – although that’s a component – but on the character and the values these students represented,” he added. “The students we lost were hard-working individuals. They all were engaged in the university community in some way. They were all extremely well-liked. They were five students who represented the kinds of characteristics we treasure.”

Mallory M. Simpson, president of the NIU Foundation, said 1,639 donors have come together to build the $631,390 scholarship fund.

The current grand total of all Feb. 14-related gifts is $846,363 from 2,237 donors: Three hundred and twenty-three donors have contributed $95,517 to three individually named funds established in the colleges; 275 donors have given or pledged around $120,000 for the memorial garden project.

Grace Weidner, who was in the Cole Hall auditorium when the shooting took place, is grateful for the scholarship recognition and the process itself.

“It was more difficult than I thought it would be. The essays were the hardest part,” Weidner said. “When it came to actually typing things out, I found I would say things that I really hadn’t shared with anyone before. A lot of what I’ve wanted to say for a really long time came out in my writing.”

Here is a closer look at the five Forward, Together Forward scholarship recipients:

Deanna Bach

If communication is key to global peace and understanding, Deanna Bach is well on her way.

The self-taught pianist composes songs to perform at local cafés and coffee shops, finding in music “an unexplainable power to speak truth to all of us in spite of our differences.” The Spanish Languages and Literature major is enamored with concepts of microfinance and micro-lending – small loans made to would-be entrepreneurs in impoverished parts of the world – and translates Spanish requests into English.

After Feb. 14, Bach learned of another way to connect.

“Our Honors Program reached out to an injured student just to say, ‘We’re thinking of you and we hope you’re doing OK,’ ” said Bach, a junior from Wheaton. “We brought her a teddy bear that every student who had come into the Honors office had hugged. We sent her hugs.”

Bach is a peer adviser for Honors and worked three semesters as a community adviser in the residence halls. She served as an after-school tutor for Conexion Comunidad, volunteered for the American Red Cross and NIU Cares Day and has worked six years at the Wheaton Park District’s Safety City Preschool.

An “A” student, Bach feels privileged to win a scholarship “unlike any other.”

“I was so excited to apply because I knew it was going to be based on character and kindness,” she said. “They were looking for the goodness of someone’s heart to represent these students.”

“Deanna will bring only honor to the memory of the students that were victims of Feb. 14,” said Dennis Barsema, who teaches Bach in a College of Business course. “She embodies the spirit, drive, honesty and integrity that these students represent on our campus and in the world.”

Jacqueline Do

When she was 8 years old, Jacqueline Do told her parents she wanted to be a pediatrician. Now 19, she has never been more determined to reach that goal.

The academically talented sophomore is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship and a member of both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Lambda Sigma Honors Society. She works at a local bank and volunteers regularly at a DeKalb assisted living center, all the while juggling a challenging load of coursework in biological sciences and chemistry.

Do said she plans to attend medical school after graduating from NIU.

“Jacqueline is a highly motivated, dedicated and hard-working student,” said Distinguished Research Professor Chhiu-Tsu Lin. “She has strong drive and determination that pushes her every day to do all that she can to excel.”

During elementary school and again in high school, Do visited relatives in Vietnam and was struck by the disparity she saw in children’s health care. It heightened her interest in becoming a doctor and in finding ways to provide care to all children.

The Feb. 14, 2008 tragedy further strengthened her resolve. The lifelong DeKalb resident said she was devastated, but she learned during that period to lean on family and friends for support.

“How we decide to act during the tragedy as well as how we cope with the tragedy shows a lot about our character,” she said. “Undoubtedly, we learn things about ourselves as individuals.

“I have learned to live each day to its fullest, accept all opportunities, and to push myself with every fiber of my being to pursue my dreams,” she added.

Scott Hudek

Scott Hudek believes character is defined by actions, not words.

And his actions spoke loudly on Feb. 14, 2008.

An Air Force veteran who was twice deployed to Iraq, Hudek, 29, is now a full-time NIU student who also works on campus in the university’s Veterans’ Assistance Office. He was at the office when he heard there had been a shooting at Cole Hall.

“My instinct was to get over there and see if I could assist,” said Hudek, who grew up in Downers Grove and now lives in DeKalb.

Hudek ran to the scene and was among the first responders, administering aid to the wounded using the basic First Aid training that he had learned in the military.

Kathy Johnson, Hudek’s supervisor, calls him a hero.

“We were locking down, and Scott literally ran out the door putting his coat on,” she said. “He selflessly assisted emergency personnel without hesitation or concern for his own safety.”

Hudek contacted another veteran, who also came to assist victims that afternoon. He also made arrangements for a counselor from Hines VA Hospital to visit campus and work with students, particularly veterans, who were coping with the tragedy.

Hudek, who is majoring in political science, has demonstrated leadership skills since arriving at NIU in 2007. He is a member of the University Honors Program and serves as executive vice president of the NIU Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He also has an impressive record of community service.

“Being a Huskie is about not only excelling academically but bringing others along with you,” Hudek said. “It means reaching out to those who are struggling and making a positive impact in the community.”

Justin Kuryliw

Justin Kuryliw grew up as a Huskie. Raised in DeKalb, he has been a huge fan of the school’s athletic teams for as long as he can remember.

Even before enrolling at NIU, he joined the student fan group. By midway through his freshman year he became president of the organization. He reveled in pouring his energy into efforts to increase attendance at games and generate fan support. But after the campus shootings of Feb. 14, 2008, he began to wonder if there wasn’t something more he could do for NIU.

The dean’s list student got his answer last spring while riding a bus home from Virginia Tech, where he and a group of students represented NIU at the one-year anniversary of the shootings there. It was then that he and some friends created Huskies United.

Since then, the group has worked with individual students and organizations to accumulate 500 hours of community service to honor the fallen Huskies – 100 hours of service for each. Projects have included everything from visiting the elderly to a campus bone marrow drive planned for this spring.

In addition to honoring those who died, Kuryliw, a junior who is majoring in business, hopes to also perpetuate the spirit of togetherness that permeated campus in the weeks after the shootings.

“After 2-14, there was such a tremendous feeling of unity and mutual support on campus. Through Huskies United, we hope to make that the norm all of the time,” Kuryliw said. “Our belief is that anything we do to help others brings us closer together.”

Grace Weidner

Grace Weidner, a sophomore from Gurnee, was in the Cole Hall auditorium when the Feb. 14 shootings took place.

She had spoken with classmate Gayle Dubowski the day before.

“We talked about what we wanted to do with our lives. I told her how I was undecided and didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I mentioned how there was so much to choose from and I didn’t know what I would be good at, if anything. She smiled, looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry; I was in the same spot just a year ago,’ ” Weidner said.

Now Weidner, who has chosen majors in communications and political science, lives in tribute to Dubowksi and the four others lost that day. She no longer dreads attending class or complains about writing papers. She no longer fights back tears the mornings of big tests.

“I no longer can take the privilege of going to college for granted,” she said. “I can’t help but think how much Gayle, Ryanne, Julianna, Catalina or Dan would give to just go one more day to school. Even though I was terrified to step foot in another classroom after the shooting, I promised myself I would go back for the five who could not go back.”

And she dreams – to make a difference for others, to marry, to raise a family, to give her children “as blessed a life as I have been given.”

“This is one of the biggest honors in my life,” she said. “I know it could’ve been a scholarship in honor of me. I know how much these people meant to their families. I know how much they meant to me. I will do exactly what this scholarship was created for: to honor their lives as best I can.”

Rosato named dean at NIU Law

Established in 1974, the NIU College of Law is young by some standards, but it might feel like an old and established institution to its newly appointed dean.

Jennifer Rosato comes to NIU from Drexel University in Philadelphia where she was part of the administrative team that created and launched the Earle Mack School of Law. She served as acting dean during the school’s first year of operation (July 2006-April 2007) and was a consultant on the project for a year prior. The experience she gained in those roles, Rosato says, will be useful when she takes over the top spot at NIU Law on July 1, 2009.

“At Drexel we had to think about everything from scratch,” she says. “It gave us the opportunity to examine traditional legal education from top to bottom and to consider what works well, and what could be improved. It provided me with a unique perspective that I think will be useful as I help NIU Law realize its potential.”

Those insights were but one of the attributes that made Rosato stand out in an excellent field of candidates culled from a national search, says NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond Alden III, but it was far from the only thing that made her a good fit.

“Dean Rosato provides an excellent mix of experience, enthusiasm and leadership skills,” says Alden. “The insights she gleaned in helping to open the doors at Drexel, combined with her outstanding record of scholarship and leadership in nearly two decades as a legal educator, make her a wonderful candidate to assume the mantle of leadership at NIU Law.”

Alden’s excitement at bringing Rosato on board is shared by NIU President John Peters.

“This was a long and deliberate search. We were looking for an individual with exceptional skills, high energy and personal charisma to build on the strengths of the college and elevate its profile. In Dean Rosato we have found that person,” says Peters, who will recommend her to the NIU Board of Trustees later this spring.

For her part, Rosato says that the NIU job was attractive for a number of reasons. One of the aspects that appealed to her was NIU Law’s commitment to diversity.

“I have benefitted greatly from increased opportunities that others worked to create in the legal profession. I am excited to become part of those efforts at NIU Law, which has long been a leader in expanding access to legal education” says Rosato, who will become one of only two Latina law school deans in the nation and the second woman to hold the title of dean at NIU Law.

The school received the 2007 Diversity Award from the Council on Legal Education Opportunity and has been ranked in the top 10 for faculty diversity by the Princeton Review for the past four years.

The college’s long history of preparing students for careers in public interest law also fits well with her belief in emphasizing service in the legal profession. As dean, she pledges to work to find new opportunities for the college to interact with and serve the university and the broader community.

Prior to her time at Drexel, Rosato was the associate dean for Student Affairs at Brooklyn Law School, where she also served as co-director of the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy and as professor of law. She began teaching at Brooklyn in 1992, and before that taught at Villanova University School of Law. Since entering the academy, she also has taught at University of Pennsylvania Law School and New York University School of Law.

Her scholarship focuses on diverse legal issues that affect children and families, with an emphasis on issues related to bioethics.

Rosato earned her J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Business Law and won the Edwin R. Keedy Moot Court Competition.

She clerked for the Hon. Thomas N. O’Neill Jr. of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, before becoming an associate with Hangley, Connolly, Epstein, Chicco, Foxman & Ewing.

Roger Dennis, dean of Drexel Law, wishes Rosato well, adding that the college is deeply indebted to her for her role in its founding and its successful launch.

“Jennifer Rosato has a tremendous work ethic and boundless energy,” Dennis says. “She is an accomplished scholar, a skilled teacher and a terrific administrator. I am familiar with NIU Law and I think she is a terrific fit there. I fully expect that she will lead the college to new heights.”

Northern Illinois University College of Law was born under the name of Lewis University College of Law in 1974. The first class graduated in 1978, and in 1979, it officially became Northern Illinois University College of Law. Rosato will replace LeRoy Pernell as dean. Pernell led the law school for a decade, leaving NIU in January 2008. Interim Dean Malcolm L. Morris has been at the helm since Pernell’s departure.

Communication students win Foot Locker video contest

When it comes to their future careers, it’s safe to say Amanda Stevens and Theresa Miller are a step ahead.

The two seniors recently won “first prize” and a $1,000 Foot Locker gift card in the “Share Your Sole” national video competition sponsored by the footwear retailer. Their 39-second video uses stop-motion animation and follows the adventures of several pairs of empty sneakers.

Both Stevens and Miller are majoring in communication with an emphasis in media studies. They entered the contest as part of an assignment in an advanced short-film production class taught by Professor Laura Vazquez.

“Actually, I tried to talk them out of doing this because (stop-motion animation) is so much work,” Vazquez says. “Now I am glad that they didn’t take my advice.”

Stevens and Miller, both honors students, used about 300 still photographs to create their video and make it appear as though empty pairs of sneakers are on the go – skateboarding, toe-tapping at a concert and playing soccer and basketball.

“Neither of us had ever used stop-motion before,” says Stevens, a Belvidere native who hopes to go into commercial advertising. “It was pretty tedious. Every time we moved a shoe we’d have to take a still image.”

The hard work paid off, though.

“I knew that the video was going to be fun and kind of quirky, but I didn’t know it would come out so professional-looking,” Miller says. The Hazel Crest native is planning to attend graduate school next year and ultimately wants to be a screenwriter or director.

All of the students in Vazquez’s class last semester competed in video contests as classroom assignments. Besides a good grade, there’s always the possibility for an added bonus.

“At least Amanda and Theresa will be in shoes for a while,” Vazquez says.

Foundations of Excellence: Transitions Dimension

As part of the Foundations of Excellence self-study, the Transitions Dimension is currently reviewing how first-year students transition from initial recruitment/admission to immersion in the university and its programs and activities.

The committee also is examining how well the transition information (i.e. institutional mission, academic expectations, out-of-class opportunities, financial aid and support services) is communicated to the students.

Committee members are in the process of collecting information from offices across campus that work with first-year students (publications, brochures and Web site pages) as well as external communication sent to secondary schools and/or families.

Members will identify patterns in the survey results; take an active part in the review of and discussions about university and/or programmatic documents; conduct interviews, solicit focus groups, recommend action plans and create a committee report on the dimension.

For additional information about, to participate in, or to provide information for the Transitions Dimension, contact the co-chairs: Bob Burk ( and Abbey Wolfman (

What’s cooking at Ellington’s?

On the menu at Ellington’s this week: Chinese New Year is scheduled today. Spring Lunch takes over Thursday.

Continuing 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.

Chinese New Year features shrimp skewers with sweet hoison sauce or spring vegetable soup for starters, Mandarin pork chops or curried vegetable lo mein for entrees and five-spiced Chinese fruit salad or new year’s rice cake for dessert. Each table also will be served freshly brewed Chinese hot tea and fortune cookies.

Spring Lunch features crab stuffed mushrooms or apple barley soup for starters, lemon blossom chicken with penne pasta or vegetable strata with balsamic mixed greens for entrees and blackberry peach crisp or chocolate eruption cake for dessert. Each table also will be served blueberry streusel mini-muffins with orange butter.

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.

Swedish jazz pianist to play
Wednesday concert at NIU

The NIU School of Music Guest Artist Series will feature Swedish jazz pianist and composer Stefan Karlsson and his jazz trio at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18.

NIU jazz faculty members Kelly Sill and Rodrigo Villanueva will join in the festivities. All are welcome to the free show in the Recital Hall of the Music Building.

Called “I Remember Bill,” the concert is a tribute to the great Bill Evans, considered one of the most influential jazz pianists and composers of the last century. During the 1960s, Evans, along with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, developed a much more modern approach to the traditional jazz trio, taking a new approach to collective improvisation and interplay.

Karlsson, an associate professor of jazz studies at the University of North Texas and current member of the Eddie Gomez Jazz Trio, has recorded more than 50 jazz albums.

School of Art hosts speaker
Thursday on relics, reliquaries

The Art History Division of the NIU School of Art at Northern Illinois University will host a lecture at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, on “Relics, Reliquaries and the Audiences.”

Cynthia Hahn, a professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Centre, CUNY, New York, will speak in Room 100 of the Visual Arts Building.

Although reliquaries are one of the most creative forms among medieval art works, they have long been marginalized because of their association with relics, bones or other detrita intrinsically distasteful to modern audiences. In their own world, however, reliquaries “represented” the relic as a powerful, holy and sacred part of the larger institution of the Church.

At the same time, the relic itself might be hidden from view.

Hahn is a specialist on the cult of the saints during the Middles Ages in all its visual manifestations, from illustrated narratives recounting their lives to the elaborate bejewelled containers housing their bones. She is the author of two books, “Portrayed on the Heart: Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of the Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century” (University of California Press, 2001) and the commentary to the facsimile edition of an illustrated “Lives of Sts. Kilian and Margeret” (Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlaganstalt, 1988), as well as numerous articles.

This event is sponsored by the Elizabeth Allen Lecture Series. For further information, call (815) 753-1474.

Jazz Lab Band, U-Jazz Band
to perform Thursday concert

NIU’s U-Jazz Band and the NIU Jazz Lab Band will present the first concert of the Spring 2009 season at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. All are welcome to the free show.

The Lab Band will feature Swedish jazz pianist Stefan Karlsson, an associate professor of jazz studies at the University of North Texas and a member of the Eddie Gomez Jazz Trio. The program will include the music of Thad Jones, Randy Brecker, Horace Silver, Bobby Watson, Bill Holman and more.

Members of the NIU Jazz Lab Band made the group’s first international tour in December. Director Rodrigo Villanueva and 16 students traveled to Mexico to perform concerts at seven different venues in four different cities. The group now is getting ready to perform at the prestigious Elmhurst Jazz Festival later this month.

Call (815) 753-1546 for more information.

Community School offers
class on theater improvisation

Young theater fans are invited to improve their skills in the art of improvisation at a new class offered by the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Improvisation and Acting begins Saturday, Feb. 28, and meets from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. for five Saturdays. Students gain invaluable skills by working in teams and learning to think on their feet. This class, taught by experienced teacher and NIU theater student Rachel Knouse, shows ways of expanding the imagination with creative theater games.

The class meets in the Stevens Building and is for children ages 8 to 12.

The class is one of many classes, ensembles and lessons offered by the NIU Community School of the Arts this spring. The office is located on campus in Room 132 of the Music Building. For more information, call (815) 753-1450 or check the Web site at

Faculty Development to honor
outstanding graduate TAs

NIU’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is seeking nominations for the 2009 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards. The call for nominations is available online.

Nominations are due Friday, March 6.

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

To be eligible for this award, each candidate must:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accounting sets cut-off dates
for FY09 purchases orders

Purchase order thresholds and the deadlines for receiving fiscal year 2009 requisitions in the Accounting Office are as follows:

  • more than $250,000: Friday, March 6
  • $25,000 to $250,000: Friday, April 10
  • $25,000 and less: Thursday, June 4

Finalizing Purchases for Fiscal Year 2009

  • General Revenue (02 funds) – All goods must be received, invoiced and all payment paperwork is due in Accounting no later than Thursday, Aug. 6.
  • All other NIU funds – All goods and/or services must be received/completed and invoices dated by Tuesday, June 30. Payment paperwork is due in Accounting no later than Tuesday, July 14.

Fiscal Year 2010 Requisitions

  • FY2010 purchase requisitions, either for open orders or for specific purchases can be submitted now.

Call Procurement Services at (815) 753-1671 or Accounting at (815) 753-1514 with questions.

Spring ‘Toolkit’ online

NIUs’ Office of Assessment Services presents the Spring 2009 issue of Toolkit, its quarterly “nuts and bolts” e-newsletter. Toolkit is specifically designed to assist the NIU community with practical assessment issues in a user-friendly format.

This issue is devoted to highlighting the 10 outstanding assessment practices that will be featured Friday, Feb. 20, at NIU’s second annual Assessment Expo. Colleagues from around campus will share their assessment practices through posters and roundtable discussions. Details and registration for this event can be located at

Back issues are posted on the Assessment Services Web site under Toolkit. Contributions to the newsletter are welcome at any time. 

NIU offers ACT prep courses
four Saturdays beginning Feb. 21

NIU will offer an ACT test prep course in February and March.

The four-week course meets from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 21, Feb. 28, March 14 and March 21, in Room 201 of Reavis Hall.

The program will cover English, math, reading and science reasoning. The final session will cover a sample testing of an actual retired ACT test and scoring.

The fee includes instruction, textbook, CD-ROM and retired ACT tests, but does not include registration to take the actual ACT test.

Registration for this test prep course is available online. For more information, contact Mark Pietrowski at (815) 753-1456 or via e-mail at

CLA to present seminar
on disaster preparedness

NIU’s Civic Leadership Academy will host a seminar called “What Local Government Executives Need to Know When Disaster Strikes: Intergovernmental Dependence and Technical Frameworks of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response in the U.S.”

The seminar will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, at NIU-Naperville, 1120 East Diehl Road.

Seminar presenters are:

  • Jonathan Schachter, lecturer at Northwestern University and former managing deputy director for emergency management at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications
  • Michael J. Fagel, instructor at the University of Chicago Masters of Threat Response Management Program, NIU lecturer and former FEMA staff member responding to incidents and disasters including the Oklahoma City bombing and New York City World Trade Center 9/11 attacks.

Register online at under CLA. Contact Janiece Bollie at or Greg Kuhn at for further information.

Assessment Expo scheduled

NIU’s second annual Assessment Expo is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 20, in the Clara Sperling Sky Room of the Holmes Student Center.

The Assessment Expo is designed to highlight successful assessment practices on campus. A poster session and roundtable discussions will feature representatives from academic programs and Student Affairs units across campus which have been recognized by the University Assessment Panel for their outstanding assessment practices in the previous year.

Topics presented include using rubrics to assess student learning outcomes, using multiple assessment methods, using innovative technology and “closing the loop” in the assessment process.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with a poster session scheduled for 9:15 a.m. and roundtable discussions for 10 a.m. For more information, or to register, visit or call (815) 753-8659.

Operating Staff seeks nominees
for Outstanding Service Awards

Do you know or work with a Civil Service employee at NIU who deserves to be recognized for his or her outstanding contributions to the university?

Nominations for the Outstanding Service Award are now being accepted.

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

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

Nomination packets must be received in Human Resource Services no later than 4:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

For more information and nomination forms, see

Application deadline approaches
for faculty travel fellowships

The NIU Division of International Programs has extended the application deadline for Lillian Cobb Faculty Travel Fellowships, supporting faculty members who seek international teaching and public service experiences.

The new deadline is Friday, Feb. 27 for proposals for travel through Aug. 15. Proposals must be submitted to the Division of International Programs.

All tenured or tenure-track faculty members at NIU are eligible to apply.

Each year the specific priorities of the Cobb Faculty Travel Fellowship program may be adjusted to support particular aspects of the strategic plan and mission.

Priority funding consideration this year will be given to proposals that support the creation of new faculty-led study abroad programs by providing travel funds for faculty to visit potential new venues. Grantees will be expected to explore logistic needs and requirements and to firm up any arrangements with local providers, colleagues and/or institutions.

A total of $7,000 is available to be awarded in this cycle. International Programs expects to award four or more grants from the Cobb endowment, with the maximum award to be $2,000. Except for extraordinary circumstances, a match of 20 percent is expected from the faculty member’s department and/or college.

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

NIU seeks student applicants
for congressional internships

Through the student-centered leadership and strong support of NIU President John Peters, the university has established a new summer congressional internship program in Washington, D.C.

This highly competitive program will provide students with the opportunity to live, learn and work in the heart of our nation’s capital. Three students will intern on the Hill for a member of the Illinois congressional delegation.

Each student will receive a $5,000 scholarship to cover the cost of housing and some living expenses. Additionally, students will receive a tuition waiver for six credit hours of political science courses.

All applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 2. Applications can be obtained from the Department of Political Science Web site or from Matt Streb at

Community School sponsors
high school Jazz Combo Day

High school jazz players are invited to audition for Jazz Combo Day, a memorable day of non-stop jazz at NIU.

Jazz Combo Day brings the best area high school jazz players together for an intensive jazz experience. The Friday, March 20, event culminates in a performance of all combos.

Students are formed into combos and work with some of the best NIU jazz faculty in the region, including Ron Carter, Willie Pickens, Kelly Sill, Art Davis, Steve Duke, Fareed Haque, Rodrigo Villanueva and Robert Chappell. This year’s guest artist is famed saxophonist Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson.

Audition recordings (CD, video or tape) must be postmarked Friday, Feb. 27. The audition is limited to 12 minutes and must feature three contrasting styles, head and improvisation. Send auditions to Ron Carter, NIU School of Music, DeKalb, IL, 60115.

More information is available at or by calling (815) 753-1450.

Graduate student travel award
changes nomination criteria

Nomination criteria for the Howard Johnston Award for Graduate Student Travel have changed in two areas.

Each department is limited to a maximum of two nominations, and nominations must be ranked. A criteria for nomination of a group of students for travel (when group travel is appropriate) also has been added. The group nomination will be considered a single nomination.

The next nomination deadline is Saturday, Feb. 28.

To encourage excellence in research and scholarly activity, the Howard Johnston Award for Graduate Student Travel will provide travel grants for outstanding NIU students to present their research projects at national or international conferences in their discipline or to participate in other scholarly activities.

Travel grants of up to $1,500 will be awarded on a competitive basis. It is anticipated that about $8,000 in total funding will be available each year.

Alumni Association plans
trips to Peru, South Africa

Visit some of the world’s most exotic places with the NIU Alumni Association.

One of the top archaeological sites on the planet awaits visitors at Machu Picchu, Peru. In South Africa, travelers will experience one of Africa's top safari destinations in Kruger National Park. This tour also includes visits to Cape Town, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Hazy View and more.

For more information about these trips, visit