Dr. Wilma D. Stricklin came to Northern in 1976 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Management. At a time when relatively few women were enrolled in the university's quantitative disciplines, Wilma worked to expand those numbers and served as mentor and role model for those who were willing to explore non-traditional areas. Because of her management experience and her knowledge of organizational structures, Dr. Stricklin was asked by President Nelson to chair one of two university committees studying compliance with Title IX in intercollegiate athletics. The resulting "Stricklin Report" established the transitional organizational structure that eventually brought men's and women's athletics together in one program.
After serving two years as chair of the management department, Dr. Stricklin was asked to accept the position of Associate Provost and to assume major responsibility for curriculum development and evaluation during a period of significant turnover in university leadership. While in the Provost's Office, Wilma called the administration's attention to the growing number of women returning to school in pursuit of enhanced credentials and to the particular challenges faced by those juggling work, family, and educational responsibilities. The task force she chaired on services for women reentering education was instrumental in the establishment of the Office of University Resources for Women, currently NIU's Women's Resource Center and in the appointment of its first director.
In the summer of 1979, following the departure of the acting vice president and provost and prior to the arrival of the newly appointed provost, Dr. Stricklin was asked to serve as Acting Vice President and Provost and to oversee the integration of the university's new College of Law into campus processes and organizational structures. She returned to her professorial role in Management in 1980. In 1981, she was elected the first chair of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. In 1987 she accepted the position of Associate Dean of the College of Business, and in her final year at NIU, she again served as chair of her department.