A Year-end Message from President Freeman
April 29, 2021
This week marks the conclusion of what has been an incredible and challenging academic year for all Huskies, and I want to express my deepest gratitude for your resilience and perseverance. Together, our community navigated profound change, hardships and uncertainties from COVID-19 by holding true to our values. We end the year stronger, having learned more about ourselves and where there is still room to grow and improve.
Throughout this year, I’ve admired the ways our students, faculty and staff have adapted and created new ways to conduct studies, research, artistry and engagement under these extraordinary circumstances. I know that every aspect of your lives was disrupted and challenged. At times it required hard work and ingenuity, and other times it called on Huskies to show great patience and even courage. You rose to the occasion, and I’m especially proud of your continued efforts to support and protect our pack. We’re now excitedly planning for a more traditional fall with renewed optimism and joy.
We must also acknowledge that the pandemic hasn’t been the only devastating trauma our university and country experienced this year. Acts of violence, hate and discrimination rooted in racism, stereotyping, xenophobia and gender bias are rampant and demand action. Through listening and learning from one another, we can build relationships, understanding and trust. Our university is committed to doing the necessary and long-term work it will take to seed and grow a society where equity, inclusivity and mutual respect are the new norm.
I’ve received actionable input and ideas this year from our Black, Asian American, LGBTQ+, LatinX and undocumented students, as well as from our Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Social Justice Committee, on what can be done to truly live our values. I have heard faculty and staff champion the same. During this summer break, I will work closely with leadership across the university to incorporate these insights into our actionable plans this fall, and we will track our progress with accountability and transparency. There will be many ways for each of you to play a role in creating an equitable and inclusive community where we treat one another with dignity and respect.
As things wind down, I encourage each of you to take some time to reflect and allow yourself to recognize that you are an important member of our Huskie community. Huskies make a difference in the lives of others, and your perspectives can contribute to making NIU more welcoming and a place to call home. I am excited and optimistic for what’s to come, and look forward to continuing to work with you, whether you are a student, colleague or new alumni.
I wish you all a peaceful and productive summer.
Lisa C. Freeman