Kathryn “Kathi” Buffington
Prospective students and their families are likely to interact with the College of Business first through Kathryn “Kathi” Buffington. Serving the college for the last 28 years, Buffington takes the lead in managing the Undergraduate Advising and Student Resources department as their office manager.
Supporting 2,400 students, Buffington interacts with College of Business majors throughout their entire NIU journey. From their initial contact as a prospective student, to helping prepare their orientation files before classes begin, all the way to the creation of their graduation card—and everything in between.
“Kathi’s ability to connect with students is second to none,” says colleague Megan Woodruff. “She creates the best student experience possible with an infectious energy that is unmatched.”
Celebrated for her customer service approach and respected for her can-do-attitude, Buffington’s colleagues say she goes above and beyond expectations. “Kathi truly amazes me,” says Lori Marcellus, director of Undergraduate Advising and Student Resources. “Her workload is that of three previous staff members and she never complains about her additional responsibilities and reduced staff.”
Buffington reviews orientation files, tracks down missing transcripts, coordinates commencement activities, and takes on new recruitment and retention events with the conviction that the additional work is necessary. In doing so, she successfully builds and maintains relationships on campus to support her office and to help students find the answers they need.
“In every College of Business office and every support office across campus, Kathi is known and respected for her knowledge, focus and the smile in her voice,” says College of Business faculty member and former dean of the college, Denise Schoenbachler.
During her tenure, Buffington has embraced changes and challenges. She helped transition from paper registration to phone registration; from phone registration to PeopleSoft; and now the addition of SSC CAMPUS. “Kathi is one to respond to changes or additional projects with ‘count me in!’” remarks Schoenbachler.
Buffington was honored with the 2018 Operating Staff Outstanding Service Award due to her tremendous support to students, NIU and the surrounding community. She contributes significantly to organizations including the Salvation Army, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the DeKalb County Health Department’s “shoe share” program. She also shares her love for horsemanship by mentoring youth interested in 4-H horsemanship and as a member of the American Quarter Horse Association.