Director of NIU Housing and Residential Services
Describe your typical workday:
The best part of my job is that it’s rarely typical. On a recent day, I visited with building-service workers and dining staff; had a phone conversation with Title IX colleagues; met with my supervisor to discuss planning; met via video conferencing with my professional association; lunched with an academic department chair to discuss a possible partnership; met with one of my team members; worked on a video project for the NIU Day of Giving; and participated in a panel discussion for a Graduate School class.
Where did you attend college?
I am a proud graduate of Eastern Illinois University, where I earned my bachelor’s degree and MBA.
Were you a first-generation college student?
I was a first-generation student from my family, and second to graduate from college among 14 cousins who were all first-generation.
Were you ever undecided about your career path?
I went to college to be a history and PE teacher. I finished my undergraduate degree in communications with an emphasis in radio and television. Since I had the perfect face for radio, and most independent stations were being bought out and syndicated, I stayed on to work with the university’s housing and dining department, while completing my MBA.
What advice would you give to NIU students?
College is a journey. The first couple of semesters should be more about exploring and understanding what you enjoy; discovering people, ideas and cultures that you knew nothing about; and using these experiences to help affirm what you value. These experiences should help narrow down the pathway toward a degree, and hopefully ignite a passion to be a lifelong learner. By pursuing opportunities outside the classroom, you also can discover how to improve your skills and talents.
What do you like about working at NIU?
My department employs about 300 students, and they are great to work with. I’m also blessed to collaborate with a talented and driven team of housing professionals. My colleagues are student-centered in all they do, which challenges me every day to be my best.
What is your favorite campus event?
There is nothing like Move-in Day, when our campus comes together to welcome new Huskies and their families. I also like supporting our sport teams, especially the Women’s Basketball Team.
What’s the most important thing you could tell a prospective NIU student?
Challenge yourself and leave your comfort zone. Once you do that, the transformative experiences will give you confidence and create opportunities. NIU faculty, staff and peers are here to help you succeed, but you need to get engaged.
What did you want to be while growing up? Are you currently doing it?
Nobody tells a kid, “Hey, forget about being an astronaut, you need to be the director of a campus housing program.” However, once I started doing this work as an undergrad and graduate student, I realized working in Student Affairs brings tremendous fulfillment and diversity of experiences. I made the right choice, once I realized this could be a career.
What community organizations are you involved in?
I have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society and local park districts. This past decade, I have spent more time coaching competitive soccer, and then transitioning into full-time officiating. I am currently a United States Soccer Federation grade 7 referee.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy woodworking and projects around our 100-year-old house, golfing and spending time with family, which includes a fine cigar at the firepit every weekend.
Dan Pedersen is the Director of NIU Housing and Residential Services.