The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has bestowed Northern Illinois University with a Community Engagement classification. This classification recognizes universities like NIU that excel at providing students with opportunities at engaged learning.
NIU serves an extraordinarily diverse region of urban, suburban and rural communities. As our student and community population reflects this diversity, NIU's community engagement and service learning activities have played important roles in bridging the gap between NIU and its home community.
Engagement and Regional Development (OERD) has initiated and coordinates a wide range of university/stakeholder collaborations, provides centralized support for numerous outreach activities of the seven colleges and collaborates with various university units to deliver non-credit programs and regional development activities. The division’s programming is consistent with the university’s core values of access, engagement, and public purpose, and its mission contributes to the university’s ability to capitalize on its unique location in a global region - one of the few areas in the US that impacts international economics, politics, and the arts. This unique location allows NIU to operate on a global stage, sharing teaching and learning, advanced technologies, research, cultural artistry, and technical expertise, while building relationships with local and regional communities.
Leadership activities for community engagement and service learning can be found throughout the campus, with faculty and staff developing and carrying out a broad array of initiatives. The coordinating infrastructure for these functions are found in the Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development (OERD).
Since its original classification, NIU’s outreach and engagement enterprise has evolved significantly. The former division of Outreach & Administration was a collection of disparate administrative units. Long-time NIU Vice President Anne Kaplan found a way to align an unlikely group of units into an integrated division by focusing on common mission elements and creative linkages and applications of expertise and assets. OERD is an institutional model of self-sufficiency because division staff have always operated in a manner that emphasizes the identification and co-creation of resources with community partners.