Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

In Brief

February 2, 2009

Jazz Ensemble to perform
afternoon concert Feb. 5

The NIU Jazz Ensemble performs with trumpeter Lew Soloff at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5. This concert is in the Concert Hall of the Music Building and is free and open to the public.

The concert is part of Jazz Day, a day-long event for high school jazz bands. Fifteen top area bands perform and are critiqued by NIU jazz faculty throughout the day. The students enjoy master classes, concerts and a talk by Soloff.

The NIU Jazz Ensemble is directed by Ron Carter, head of jazz studies at NIU. With a roster that includes students from Miami to Milwaukee, the NIU Jazz Ensemble has long been considered one of the best college jazz bands in the world.

The group has performed all over the United States, as well as in Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands. Among the many well-known jazz artists the group has performed with are Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Tito Puente and James Moody.

For more information, call (815) 753-1450.

Application deadline approaches
for faculty travel fellowships

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

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

Proposals for travel through Aug. 15 must be submitted to the Division of International Programs by Friday, Feb 6. Applicants will be notified whether they have received an award by March 15.

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.

Geology posts dates
for spring colloquia

The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences has announced the schedule for its Spring 2009 Colloquia.

All talks are held at 4 p.m. Fridays in Davis Hall 308 and are co-sponsored by the Graduate Colloquium Committee of NIU. Call (815) 753-1943 for more information.

  • Friday, Feb. 6: Patricia Beddows, Northwestern University, “Vadose processes”
  • Friday, Feb. 27: Niklas Wagner, NIU, “An ion geochemistry and SR isotope study of the extent of the K/T ejecta blanked in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.”
  • Friday, March 20: Douglas Walker, Illinois State Water Survey, title to be announced
  • Friday, March 27: Stephen Rowland, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, “The reception in nineteenth-century America of the new sciences of Geology, Paleontology, and Archaeology – as recorded in the writing of Mark Twain.”
  • Friday, April 17: Luke Trusel, NIU, “Inferences into temperate fjiord deglaciation; evidence from glacial and paraglacial submarine landforms in southeast Alaska.”
  • Friday, April 24: David Vaccaro, NIU, “Alteration reactions in magmatic hydrothermal systems.”

Trip scheduled Friday
to Yerkes Observatory

Join NIU in a Friday, Feb. 6, trip to explore the University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory at Williams Bay, Wis. The trip departs from the Normal Road entrance of the Holmes Student Center at 2:45 p.m. and returns around 8 p.m.

The cost is $35, which includes entrance fees, guide, snack and transportation. The snack will be light, so travelers might want to bring snacks and make dinner plans after the return to DeKalb.

Established in 1897, the observatory housed the University of Chicago’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Department. The beautiful, historic building, on the 77-acre, park-like site, houses the world’s biggest lens-type telescope and continues to provide laboratory space and access to telescopes for research and instruction.

Participants will learn about the observatory’s history, important discoveries and ongoing research in astronomy and astrophysics. 

To register, call (815) 753-0277 and reference Event #10121 or register online. For information, call Mark Pietrowski at (815) 753-5200.

Artists to speak
at Olson Gallery

More talks about art are scheduled in a series tied to “New and Renew: New Faculty and Sabbatical Biennial,” on view in the Art Building’s Jack Olson Gallery through Feb. 13.

Debbie Smith-Shank will speak from noon to 12:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9. Francis Trankina will speak from noon to 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10. 

NIU offers ACT prep

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

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

Children’s Choir schedules
first spring rehearsal Feb. 4

The NIU Community School of the Arts children’s choir welcomes all interested children ages 8 to 13 to the first spring rehearsal Wednesday, Feb. 4. The rehearsal begins at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. The group meets at this time each week in Room 171 of the Music Building.

The open rehearsal Feb. 4 is an ideal chance for children and parents to experience the choir without making a commitment. The group will play music games, sing and enjoy treats.

Mary Lynn Doherty, director of the choir, is a faculty member of the NIU School of Music. Assisting and accompanying is Travis Erikson, choir director for the DeKalb High School. 

The mission of the CSA Children’s Choir is to develop the musical skills and understandings of children in the greater DeKalb area through the study and performance of high quality choral music of different genres. Through the choral music experience, students will build important musical and life skills.

For more information, call Renee Page at (815) 753-1450 or visit

Geography posts dates
for spring colloquia

The Department of Geography has announced the schedule for its Spring 2009 Colloquia.

All talks are held at 3 p.m. Fridays in Davis Hall 121 and are co-sponsored by the Graduate Colloquium Committee of NIU. Call (815) 753-0631 for more information.

  • Feb. 6: Stephen C. Laffey, Illinois Commerce Commission, “Geographic Perspective of Railroad Safety in Illinois”
  • Feb. 20: Graduate student research presentations. (More graduate student research presentations are scheduled for Monday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 29.)
  • Feb. 27: George Malanson, University of Iowa, “Computer Simulation Responses to Global Change at the Alpine Treeline”
  • March 6: Graduate Student Research Presentations
  • March 20: Mohamed Sultan Western Michigan University, “Water Resources and Environmental Issues”
  • April 3: Donald A. Hanson, Argonne National Laboratory, “Climate-Economic Models and Uncertainties”
  • April 10: William Currie, University of Michigan, “Woody Vegetation Change, Carbon Storage, and Climate Change Mitigation”
  • April 17: Scott Isard, Penn State University, “Modeling Seasonal Spread of Soybean Rust in North America”
  • April 24: Joy Nystrom Mast, Carthage College, “The Biogeography of Forest Change: Crown Fire, Insect Epidemics, and Drought in Ponderosa Pine Forests of the American Southwest”

NIU’s FIT program to host
a ‘Biggest Loser’ competition

Inspired by the hit TV show, NIU’s FIT Program is creating a “Biggest Loser” competition.

At stake is a free fall 2009 FIT membership to both the woman and man who lose the most weight, and also a free fall 2009 membership to the team whose members who lose the most weight. Participants can sign up in teams of four or individually for placement on teams of four.

Measurements of girth (arms, waist, hips, thighs) and pounds lost will take place every two weeks, and the competition will conclude the week of April 20. Exercise physiology students will be available to train individuals and teams.

For more information, call (815) 753-0335.

Ally Program registration
opens for spring workshops

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

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

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

Part I:
Wednesday, Feb. 4: 2 to 4 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 9: 9 to 11 a.m.

Part II:
Tuesday, Feb. 17: 2 to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 25: 2 to 4 p.m.
Monday, March 2: 9 to 11 a.m.

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