Baker to step down as President; Lisa Freeman to become Acting President

June 15, 2017

DeKalb, Ill. —The Northern Illinois University (NIU) Board of Trustees today announced that it has entered into an agreement with President Douglas D. Baker that will result in his leaving his position effective June 30, 2017. Baker, 61, has been president of NIU since July 2013.

The Board also announced that Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa C. Freeman will become acting president, effective on July 1, 2017. Freeman moves into the acting presidency by operation of Board policy and is expected to serve as acting president until a permanent replacement is hired.

Baker conveyed his appreciation for the NIU community. “I want to thank the NIU Board of Trustees for the opportunity to lead, and I appreciate the encouragement I have received from our Board, faculty, staff, alumni and students," Baker said. “Nothing would please me more than to be able to continue to work with my great senior leadership team to address the challenges we face. But at this point, the Board and I are in agreement that the continued public attention to certain issues has simply become too much of a distraction. I care too much about this institution and the people in it to have its attention diverted when there’s so much important work to get done,” he added.

John Butler, chair of NIU’s Board of Trustees, expressed his thanks to Dr. Baker for his years of leadership at the helm of NIU. President Baker arrived at a challenging moment for the university. He brought fresh thinking to our campus, clarity to our mission and sharper focus to our efforts to prepare students for career success,” Butler said.

Butler cited improvements in relations with the surrounding DeKalb and Sycamore communities, an acceleration in collaborations with community colleges, the realignment of academic and administrative programs through a comprehensive program prioritization process, and an infusion of fresh leadership for both senior staff and academic positions as noteworthy accomplishments during Baker’s tenure.

Butler noted that NIU is fortunate to have a proven leader like Executive Vice President and Provost Freeman prepared to take on the acting presidency. Lisa Freeman has been a senior leader at the university since 2010 and, as executive vice president and provost, has led many major initiatives. We believe she will build on these initiatives, continue our focus on recruiting and retaining students, work with the Board to address a very challenging fiscal environment, and function as a strong and articulate advocate for our academic mission.”

Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 courses of study while serving a diverse and international student body of about 19,000. The 17 NIU Huskie athletic teams compete in the Mid-American Conference at the highest NCAA Division I level. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Lisa Miner, NIU Institutional Communications
Phone: 815-753-1861

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