Todd Gilson, Ph.D.
Director for University Honors
As the director of the University Honors Program it is my job to develop and facilitate a unique college experience that fosters both the sense of a tight knit community and provides benefits afforded by a large-scale research university. Furthermore, not only do I preach this doctrine, I model it to students in my sport psychology and sport sociology seminar classes by a being knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging professor, while also directing student research that has led to national presentations and peer-reviewed publications.
My current research focuses on the link between key psychological constructs that help distinguish highly successful leaders and performers from less successful ones. To best answer this question, I have worked with dozens of NCAA athletic institutions and U.S. Army ROTC programs around the country. The lessons acquired about confidence, resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges are woven into interactions I have with students in the University Honors Program.
I earned my doctorate in kinesiology from Michigan State University; a master’s degree in human performance from Oregon State University; and bachelor’s degree in sport management from Ohio Northern University. Come stop by Campus Life Building 110 to learn more about how the University Honors Program can help you succeed!
Jason Goode, M.A.
Associate Director of Scholarships, Programming and Assessment
In November 2012, I joined the University Honors Program administrative team as the assistant to the associate vice provost. I am a high-level management support professional who develops, recommends and implements appropriate goals, policies, procedures, assessment and long-term planning related to national scholarships, fellowships and academic awards and recognitions for the University Honors Program’s academically motivated student body. In addition to these duties, I serve as the University Honors Program’s liaison to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office and the diverse array of honor societies at Northern Illinois University.
Prior to joining University Honors, I worked in NIU’s Office of Student Academic Success as a student success specialist (SSS). I was responsible for working with students who were in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This position was new to the campus and I helped brand the identity of the SSS through piloting a version of the Absence Tracking Program with an emphasis on English 103, English 104 and Communication 100. I also launched Soup & Success, now known as edible education, a program that provides students with lunch as they engage in sessions related to time management, reading strategies, public speaking, financial aid, scholarships and test anxiety. As part of the team, I helped advance the development and piloting of a new advising tool created for NIU by the Educational Advisory Board. I have also co-hosted brown bag discussions and training sessions related to Mapworks.
I am a proud NIU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a focus on media production and a master’s degree in communication focusing on media studies. In addition to my full-time work with the University Honors Program, I am also working to earn a doctorate in adult and higher education with a focus on higher education and student affairs.
Edye Cowan, M.S.Ed.
Associate Director of Academic Strategic Planning
As the associate director of academic strategic planning, my work includes collaborating with NIU colleges and campus offices to promote and advance the University Honors Program. I also serve as the program adviser and supervisor of Honors Fellows. Mentoring students as they work to meet their professional and personal goals and complete their honors program requirements is an integral part of the work I do.
Prior to moving to Illinois in 2009, I worked as a teacher in the K-12 public education system in Shiprock and Albuquerque, New Mexico and concluded my teaching career as an inclusion specialist in Davis, California. I earned my bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University in elementary education with an endorsement in special education and my master’s degree in adult and higher education at NIU.
I come to the University Honors Program by way of the College of Education, where I worked as a university supervisor and most recently as an academic adviser for the elementary and middle level teaching and learning programs. I am excited to be part of the University Honors Program and look forward to sharing the wonderful opportunities and experiences available to honors program students.
I joined the University Honors Program in the summer of 2013. It did not take me long to realize that in my first position, as office support associate, how much I love interacting with our students. Specifically, watching students progress through the program and sharing in their achievements is a truly rewarding experience. After holding that position for almost three years, I was promoted to office manager. In my current position, I am responsible for managing the office fiscal planning and monitoring the day-to-day operations of the office.
As a student, know that my door is always open. Feel free to stop in and ask questions or just say “hi” at anytime.
Assistant Director of Programming and Communication
As the Assistant Director of Programming and Communication, I will often serve as a spokesperson for the University Honors Program. My role will be to promote the growth of the Honors community through programs, events, and the dissemination of important information to our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. I will be working directly with the Honors House in addition to providing opportunities for everyone in the Honors Program. I enjoy working with students and am looking forward to this new opportunity.
Although I just joined the Honors team in August, I have a lot of previous experience at NIU. I worked as a Complex Coordinator for four years in Douglas Hall and three years in New Hall. All of the years I worked in Housing, I was working with the Honors House as well, so I feel like this will be a smooth transition. While I was serving as a Complex Coordinator, I also taught UNIV 101 and will continue to teach. Additionally, I worked in the First-and Second-Year experience Office for several months prior to joining the University Honors Program.
My connection to NIU does not stop with simply work experience. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with an emphasis on Human Resources and I also have my Master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis on Student Affairs. I have always had strong Huskie pride and a love for NIU that keeps drawing me back in, so I hope I can spread that around!
Office Support Assistant
As the Office Support Assistant, my top priority is maintaining a welcoming atmosphere in the Honors Program office and ensuring that the day-to-day needs of staff and students are met smoothly and efficiently. I’m the front door of the Honors program, so I’m in the business of good first impressions and remembering folks’ names. I also support the Office Manager, and to a lesser extent the full program staff, in clerical and administrative duties, scheduling, and documentation.
Before joining the Honors team, I earned a B.A. in English Writing at NIU, graduating magna cum laude. As a student I participated in the OSEEL/CLAS Student Engagement Fund program as a mentored student researcher, and earned both the Richard H. Howland Poetry Writing Award and the Robert T. Self Award for outstanding papers in Literature and Film. At Willamette University in Salem, Oregon I co-founded Games Unplugged, a student organization dedicated to promoting inclusivity in the board-gaming community.
David Ballantine, Ph.D.
Faculty Adviser to the Honors House
I began my academic career at NIU in 1989 and have been affiliated with the University Honors Program in many capacities since the mid 1990’s. I have served as a faculty mentor for honors capstones, managed honors contracts in several classes, developed curriculum for stand-alone honors sections of CHEM 210 and 211 and have served on the University Honors and University Scholarship committees.I currently serve as one of the faculty advisers to the Honors House (New Hall East), assisting with event programming.
I earned a B.S. in chemistry from the College of William and Mary (1977) and a Ph.D. in analytical/environmental chemistry from the University of Maryland-College Park (1983). Before coming to NIU, I spent five years as a research scientist at the Naval Research Labs in Washington D.C. During a 25 year career in the NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, I have served as the coordinator of the Introductory and General Chemistry programs, faculty adviser to the NIU Chemistry Club and director of Undergraduate Studies, and I received the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1998. I have served as the associate dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 2014.
Madelyn Anderson, M.A.
Faculty Adviser to the Honors House
I am an instructor in the Department of Communication and I have been teaching at NIU since 1992. A native of Wyoming, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Augustana College, Rock Island, and graduated with distinction from NIU with a Master of Arts in Communication and a graduate emphasis in women’s studies. In the honors program, I teach a public speaking course with an emphasis in service learning. I have been coordinator of the COMS 100 program, pre-COMS adviser and coordinator of the COMS 100 Speech Contest. In 2015 I was awarded the “Great Professor” Award by the University Honors Program.
Prior to NIU, I acquired an extensive background in arts administration. I worked for a Boston-based performing artist agency, as a graphic artist for newspapers in the west and midwest, and was a contributing writer to the Augustana Alumni Magazine. I was the director of audience development at Augustana’s public radio station before being named the director of cultural events for the college. During this time, I received statewide recognition from the Illinois Arts Council for being the top presenters’ grant recipient. I was appointed to the IAC’s Presenters’ Development Panel and conducted on-site evaluations of performing arts venues throughout Illinois. While at NIU, I have provided long-time volunteer support for local organizations including the Sycamore Music Boosters for whom I developed the “SHS Music Hall of Fame” program.
Faculty Adviser to The Luminary
I am the communications manager for the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and have worked at NIU since 2006. After receiving a B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois, I began my career as a night police reporter/obituary writer for The State Journal-Register in Springfield, eventually becoming the editor of the weekend magazine. I later edited Student Lawyer magazine for the American Bar Association in Chicago before moving to San Diego to work as an editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Sunday Homes section. Returning to Illinois in 1995, I worked as a copy editor for the Naperville Sun and as a freelance editor for clients including Microsoft, Copley News Service and Reader’s Digest. I began free-lancing for CSEAS and was appointed communications manager in 2011. In that capacity, I write and edit a weekly e-bulletin and annual newsletter, manage the center’s website and social media, contribute stories to NIU Today and manage press inquiries among other duties. I have worked as the faculty advisor for the Honors Program’s student newsletter, The Luminary, since 2016. I enjoy working with such talented students on this ever-evolving publication. In 2017 we launched The Luminary as a glossy magazine. I am proud to be affiliated with the Honors program both as an advisor and as a parent. My daughter Katie is a Biology student in the University Honors Program.