Message from Acting Dean Judy Ledgerwood


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has grown and progressed over the past year, allowing for more learning opportunities for students, research opportunities for faculty and partnerships with other educational institutions.

More Degree Options

Beginning in the fall of 2019, we have two new bachelor’s degree programs –in statistics and in actuarial science, as well as a new Ph.D. program in computer science.

Also, for public affairs students looking for a more flexible option, the college now offers a 100% online master of public administration degree. Speaking of our public affairs program, we have seen our national rankings via U.S. News and World Report go up. NIU’s program is now ranked fourth in the nation for local government management.

Faculty in the Media

Our faculty is frequently cited in the national news media, as journalists seek them out for their expertise on a variety of issues.

Victor Gensini, assistant professor in the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences, and a severe weather guru, could be seen in publications and programs such as Scientific American, Forbes and PBS NewsHour.

Meanwhile, Scot Schraufnagel, chairman of the Department of Political Science, could be seen discussing the action (or inaction) of Congress, voting rights, and other issues in Roll Call, the New York Times, Bloomberg, and on CNN.

New Scholarships

We’ve also seen the fruits of the National Science Foundation grant, which Ralph Wheeler, chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, wrote and spearheaded with assistance from Associate Professor Nicole LaDue of the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences and Timothy Hagen, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Selected students will receive scholarships of up to $5,000 each academic year for as many as three years, with the goal to award nearly 50 BELONG scholarships over a five-year period. The grant will provide scholarships and mentoring for high-achieving, low-income students pursuing STEM degrees.

Hands-on Learning

Additionally, as we have for the past seven years, NIU has participated the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs. For the third year, geology professor Melissa Lenczewski led a summer program for students focusing on increasing Latinx participation in STEM fields through research on groundwater quality in Mexico. Ralph Wheeler and James Horn in chemistry and biochemistry and Jahred Adelman and Mike Eads in physics also led REU programs this summer. Wheeler and Horn’s program involved undergrad students as well as instructors from other colleges, and Adelman and Eads’ program involved high school teachers. These are all programs that help students and teachers progress in their learning and help them in their academic and professional careers. 

Upcoming Events

Finally, in what will I’m sure be a fun event not to be missed, the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences will be celebrating its half-century at NIU with a special event on Oct. 4 and 5, 2019, including an open house and colloquium and football pregame celebration. The Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences will be celebrating its half-century milestone on Nov. 22, 2019. These events are open to all alumni, students and friends of NIU.

Thank you for visiting the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I welcome you to attend an event or visit campus to see all that we have to offer.


Judy Ledgerwood, Ph.D.
Acting Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Zulauf Hall 312

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