Advocacy and Recognitions

NIU is a leading voice for excellence in publicly funded university research, diversity and inclusion in research activities, and Emerging Research Institutions nationwide.

US Capitol Building

Voice for research institutions

NIU officials are leading advocates of Emerging Research Institutions (ERIs), and the university’s vice president for research has testified before Congress on their importance. ERIs are those institutions of higher education with established undergraduate and/or graduate programs that have less than $50 million in federal research expenditures. These institutions are crucial to help ensure equity of research opportunity and to sustaining the nation's technological competitiveness through innovation and workforce development.

Economic Partnership

Recognized by APLU

NIU is among a small percentage of public institutions designated as Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) — acknowledging NIU as a university working with public and private sector partners to support economic development.

Student in lab

National ranking for productivity

A report assessing U.S. comprehensive research universities ranked NIU third nationally for “innovation impact productivity”—or the bang for the buck per research dollar spent. The ranking can be found in the report, “The Innovation Impact of U.S. Universities,” released by the George W. Bush Institute and the Opus Faveo Innovation Development consulting firm.

Insight into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award 2023 - Top Colleges for Diversity

Committed to diversity, inclusion

In each of three consecutive years (2021-23), NIU received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The national honor recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

2022 Great Colleges to Work For Recognized

A great place to work

For two consecutive years, NIU has been saluted in the rosters of “Great Colleges to Work For,” one of the country’s largest and most respected workplace recognition programs. The university made its debut on the national list in 2021 thanks to excellent results in categories of shared governance; faculty experience; and diversity, equity and belonging.


Five stars on Campus Pride Index

Setting the bar for LGBTQ-inclusive polices, programs and practices, the national Campus Pride Index awarded NIU a 5-star ranking in both 2022 and 2023. This highest possible rating serves as not only a testament to the programs and resources we offer specifically for LGBTQ+ students, but also to our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a whole.

Student in Lab

Extending social-mobility opportunities

NIU was cited in a report from the Brookings Institution as being among a select group of the nation’s public universities that are simultaneously producing important research while also extending social-mobility opportunities to students from low-income households.

2022 NCAA Convention Award Presentation

Recognized with prestigious NCAA award

NIU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics earned the 2022 NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association Award for Diversity and Inclusion. NIU is the first institution in the history of the award to earn the prestigious honor twice.

2022 Presidential Faculty Awards

Outstanding faculty awards

NIU has a long history of recognizing its outstanding faculty members. Learn more about the recipients of our Presidential Professorships and Board of Trustees Professorships.

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