About the Division

About Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development

At NIU, engagement is a central university function, integrated into engaged learning, engaged research, and engaged service.

Established in 2001, Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development provides centralized support for outreach and engagement activities delivered by NIU's seven colleges and conducts its own programs with partners across the region. About 70% of our budget comes from external sources, reflecting our outward focus.

NIU resides in a "global region," one of the few areas in the U.S. that impacts international economics, politics, and the arts.  The area offers extraordinarily rich opportunities to share teaching and learning, advanced technologies, research, cultural artistry, and technical expertise. This unique location allows the university to operate on a global stage while working directly with local and regional partners.


  • Extends NIU’s expertise, research, and resources beyond the campus
  • Manages about 13,000 enrollments in credit courses annually at hundreds of regional locations
  • Provided about 500 non-credit programs for more than 32,000 people in 2010


  • Begins with shared needs and requires a context of reciprocity
  • Allows the university and partners to collaboratively discover new knowledge and change lives

Information technologies

  • Serves 30,000 users and 70,000 networked devices in DeKalb and NIU's four regional centers
  • Uses more than $120 million in federal, state, and local funds to build 2200 miles of high-speed broadband networks through the region.
  • Organizes teams to develop broadband activities with local partners

In 2008, the Carnegie Foundation recognized NIU for Community Engagement in Outreach and Partnerships. We welcomed this designation as a validation of the university-wide commitment to outreach and engagement and the high impact of NIU’s extraordinarily diverse partnerships. In 2010, Carnegie further acknowledged NIU’s commitment with the designation for Curricular Engagement.