Dear Faculty and Staff,

We had planned to celebrate this weekend the accomplishments of more than 2,700 NIU graduates at Commencement. Not having this opportunity is another stark reminder that COVID-19 is a pervasive thief. But as I shared today with our graduates in the message and video link below, even though we cannot be together at this time, the degrees they earned are theirs, are official and should be celebrated.

I want to sincerely thank all of you for helping our graduates get to this important milestone in their lives. From their first interactions with us – whether as high school or community college students, or working adults looking to complete or add degrees – you played a role in helping them achieve one of their biggest dreams in life thus far. You’ve done it for years, and I’m certain these past two months proved to be some of most challenging. 

Please take a moment, today or at some point this weekend, to pause and acknowledge that you are part of a place that changes lives. The difference we help make for our students will have a positive effect across businesses, non-profits, health care, the arts, education, engineering, small and large communities and our world’s future. That’s where I find hope and cause to celebrate. 

Together Forward,

Lisa C. Freeman


A special message from President Lisa Freeman

Dear NIU Class of 2020,


There are many joys that come with being the president of an amazing university, but none is greater than being able to celebrate our graduates and your dreams, accomplishments, contributions and unbelievable potential. When I look out from the stage at commencement to an arena filled with our vibrant and diverse students, I see the very best of our university and our future. And when I see the families and friends there with incredible pride on their faces and in their hearts, I am always humbled, inspired and feel so fortunate to be a part of it.


While celebrating with you in person this spring is not an option, my pride and hope for you has never been stronger. In what should have been the home stretch of your university experience, you were instead catapulted into a global pandemic that would challenge you academically, physically and emotionally. And you got through it – to reach the goal you set, to achieve the dream you worked tirelessly for, to receive your NIU degree. You have proven to yourself that you can do hard things, even in the hardest of times. As a result, you are ready to go out into the world, and prepared for whatever you encounter.


I know that it might not feel real or complete without a ceremony. You are missing the opportunity to embrace the friends and faculty you’ve come to know and respect, to hear your name read aloud, and to walk across the platform while family members and supporters applaud your accomplishments. All of us at NIU understand that, and that’s why we’re committed to hosting your commencement. We hope this will take place as planned in August or at another time when we can all be safe and comfortable. Our faculty and staff want to have that time with you, and we know your families and friends do as well.


In the meantime, I made you a video where I confer upon our graduates the degrees that they have earned. We’ve also created a suite of graphics and video content that you can use to begin celebrating now until we’re together again. We encourage you to not let this weekend go by without sharing that you are a new graduate and enjoying well-deserved acclaim from your virtual cheering section.

On behalf of the NIU faculty, staff, alumni and Board of Trustees, we offer you our heartfelt congratulations on your degree and our deepest appreciation for the impact you’ve had on us. Our thoughts and best wishes are with you and your loved ones.

Forward Together,

Lisa C. Freeman

This message has been approved for distribution by the appropriate NIU party and is distributed by the Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications. NIU Mass E-Mail Policy