Academic Excellence

At NIU, academic excellence and innovation are the essence of our work. In this context, we recognize diversity as a dimension of excellence and driver of innovation.

We want diverse experiences, perspectives and backgrounds to enrich the intellectual life of our university community, and we understand that achieving this will require us to challenge long-held assumptions and traditional structures.

To this end, across NIU, there is strong interest in rethinking, reframing and reconstructing our undergraduate and graduate curricula to make them more relevant, more inclusive, more interdisciplinary and more integrated with each other. This work will advance our vision of promoting personal professional and intellectual growth, and transforming the world through research, artistry, teaching and outreach.

Curriculum Enhancement and Innovation

Reviewing University Human Diversity Requirement

IL Public Act 87-581 requires institutions of higher learning in the state of Illinois to address human diversity during a student’s education. At NIU, undergraduate students must complete the human diversity baccalaureate requirement through a designated human diversity course or non-course experience. The catalog language and course offerings were last updated in 2018. The Committee for Academic Equity and Inclusive Excellence recommended in 2020 that the catalog entry, course offerings and enrollment trends be reviewed and updated.

In February 2022, Provost Ingram approved the memorandum sent to deans, department chairs, directors, and program coordinators with the request that they review and update the Human Diversity courses offered in their departments. Courses taught by faculty who retired were removed and new courses were added. The Committee for Academic Equity and Inclusive Excellence recommended that the Human Diversity course offerings be reviewed periodically to ensure courses are current.

Examining Curricula through an Anti-racist Lens

Faculty Senate

Curricular change is at the purview of the faculty, and the NIU Faculty Senate is engaging in this work, with the formation of the Faculty Senate Social Justice Committee in fall 2020.

Colleges and Academic Departments

Colleges and departments are identifying and dismantling curricular bias through formation of departmental and college committees.

Removing Barriers that Inhibit Transdisciplinary Scholarship

Transdisciplinary scholarship is defined as inquiry or artistic work that cuts across disciplines, synthesizing and integrating disparate disciplinary methodologies to shed light on a research question or to create new knowledge or artistic works. Such work transcends disciplinary methodologies to inspire creative approaches to difficult research questions. Many scholars, especially BIPOC scholars, contribute to the body of transdisciplinary scholarship. Increasingly, academe has recognized not only that addressing the complex questions we face as a state, nation and world necessitates a transdisciplinary approach, but also that the formal hierarchies and metrics used to assess and assign value to scholarship devalue this type of work and contribute to the marginalization of BIPOC faculty.

This work scheduled for AY21-23 will:

  • Develop a definition and understanding of interdisciplinary scholarship that supports NIU’s mission, vision and values, and is relevant to NIU  faculty, especially BIPOC faculty.
  • Review relevant literature on the characteristics of and barriers to interdisciplinarity and examine best practices at other institutions.
  • Create recommendations on how to lower those barriers and to pursue NIU policies and procedures that support and enable transdisciplinary research, and thereby enhance the recruitment, advancement and retention of innovative faculty scholars, especially BIPOC faculty.

Goal 3A

Strengthening the Graduate Student Experience

Graduate programs at Northern Illinois University contribute to instruction, scholarship and engagement. Some programs contribute directly to the research and artistry mission, while others provide our region the next generation of educators, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.  Many of our graduate programs contribute to the diversity and inclusion mission of the university. 

The work scheduled for AY21-23 will both improve and strengthen the graduate experience, with an emphasis on the environment for BIPOC and international graduate students. Efforts will involve developing a common understanding of the desired experience for NIU’s diverse and international graduate students, evaluating our programs in light of that understanding, and making recommendations for moving toward the desired experience.

Goal 3B

Contact Us

Office of the President
Altgeld Hall 300


Submit questions or updates
Back to top