A Message of Gratitude from President Freeman
March 18, 2021
I am honored and grateful for the support and leadership of the NIU Board of Trustees and their approval today to extend my contract. I love this university, believe in our public mission and am inspired by our diverse and talented students, faculty, staff and alumni. Together we have accomplished a great deal to be proud of, but more importantly we’re building a stronger foundation from which even greater achievements will stem.
Last March, we found ourselves in the early and intense days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those weeks turned into a year, and while uncertainties and challenges persist, the cooperation and collaboration of our community has only reaffirmed that Huskies never quit. We made a collective pivot and learned to do things differently and, in many regards, even better. By holding firm to our values, refining our plans and working toward clear goals, we are emerging with optimism.
This past year has also shown where there are opportunities for improvement and needed investment. We have discovered opportunities to be more effective and flexible. Unquestionably, we’ve also seen painful reminders of where inequities persist and must be addressed, systemically. Recognizing and embracing the work we need to do, we are implementing bold strategies to drive bold changes. Our plans are detailed in our university goals to ensure that we tackle challenges and pursue opportunities with intention and accountability, and in alignment with our strategic priorities.
For me, COVID has reinforced the immense value of research, scholarship, artistry and engagement and the critical role Huskies play in our society. I will continue to advocate for excellence in these areas and work to create an environment where innovation, creativity and collaboration can thrive and benefit our remarkable students, faculty and staff. I’m particularly excited to see our visions for NICCS and the Health Informatics Building realized. These initiatives will help us create and harness new knowledge to be shared broadly for the betterment of others.
I know everyone is especially excited to celebrate our graduates in person for spring commencement and to welcome our current and new students for a more traditional fall semester. I also look forward to supporting our artists, performers and athletes as they return to their stages to use their skills and talents to engage, enlighten and entertain. We want the joy and life to come back into the campus, and we are building our fall plans to make this happen safely. Our DeKalb and Sycamore communities want and feel the same.
There is great momentum both at NIU and in the community. We are taking our local collaboration to the next level, focusing our collective efforts intentionally on projects that will advance the university and the region simultaneously. I take very seriously the university’s role as an economic development driver for the DeKalb area. A flourishing communiversity relies on our ability to attract and retain 21st century talent, provide a great quality of life and support the innovators and entrepreneurs who will foster economic opportunity. It is exciting to see our plans not only align but synergize for a greater overall impact.
NIU is exceptional, and its strength comes from our amazing students, staff and faculty who pursue and share knowledge for society’s benefit. Together, with our deep respect and commitment to shared governance, equity, inclusion, as well as our mission, vision and values, we are unstoppable. We are Huskies.
Lisa C. Freeman