Clark Neher taught for over 30 years at Northern Illinois University (NIU) bringing not only his knowledge and leadership to the school, but also countless honors and financial grants. He taught Political Science during his entire tenure and was chairman of the university’s Political Science Department for nine years. In 1997, he was named a Presidential Teaching Professor, the university’s highest teaching honor. He received the Fulbright Award in 1979 and 1996, and was a Ford Foundation Grantee in 1973.
Neher also served as director of NIU’s esteemed Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Under his leadership, the Center received its first million dollar federal grant and has continued to be an annual recipient. Through Neher’s involvement with the Center, he has been invited to serve as Chairman of the Southeast Asia Council, President of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs and on the Board of Directors of the Association for Asian Studies. He has also been a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and to the State Department since 1996.
Since his retirement, Neher has become passionate about volunteering for his former employer. He is involved with the NIU Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) where he teaches classes for students of all ages on globalism and Southeast Asian development.
“It takes a great deal of time to prepare for these classes,” says Neher. “But it assures that I keep academically and culturally involved in retirement.”
He is also a guest lecturer for Stanford University and Smithsonian trips abroad to China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and India.
“These positions contribute to the reputation of Northern Illinois University both nationally and internationally,” adds Neher.
Neher co-chairs the NIU Foundation Faculty Development Committee, helping to increase giving by current faculty members. “We find ways to increase faculty patronage to NIU,” Neher says. “Through the Foundation, my wife and I have set up a fellowship for graduate students who have made Southeast Asia their focus.”
Neher is a firm believer in the State Universities Retirement System and understands the importance of keeping it solvent through proper state funding.
“A healthy pension system is important for the recruitment and retention of high-level faculty at our state universities,” Neher says. “Pension systems must remain viable in order to maintain the prestige of our public universities. And, ultimately, the biggest beneficiaries are the students.”