February 14 is a day that is embedded in the history and the fabric of Northern Illinois University, and one which our NIU community carries in its heart every day. Today, in tribute to the five students we lost six years ago, we announced the 2014 recipients of the Forward, Together Forward Scholarship, each of whom demonstrates extraordinary strength of character, integrity and strong academic credentials.
The triumph of the Huskie spirit in accomplishing great things epitomizes the meaning of that famous phrase from the Huskie Fight Song, Forward, Together Forward. Since that day in 2008, NIU renovated Fay Cooper Cole Hall into three distinct areas — the Anthropology Museum, a high-tech collaborative classroom, and state-of-the-art smart auditorium — that stand as a symbol of the university’s resolve and commitment to NIU’s reinvention as a model 21st century university.
Here on campus, we continue to explore many possibilities to improve the NIU student experience in the context of student career success, working together in an ethically inspired manner to build thriving communities in a financially sustainable manner. This past week, our consultant, Ron Walters, presented “Eight Bold Ideas” to help move the university forward, improving student experience and making the campus a place where students want to stay and a place to which alumni want to return.
These bold ideas for NIU’s future are a look into what’s possible and are the result of important questions that have been brought forth the past six months — questions that often begin with, “What if…?” The goal is to explore possibilities as we align our campus master plan with our academic mission, establishing clear principles to guide our institutional priorities and investment decisions.
Only through exploring new ideas and applying them to existing policies and principles can we transform NIU into a model of what the “university of the future” will look like. I am looking forward to sharing the NIU vision further next week in Chicago with the City Club, at the NIU Alumni Association Executive Leadership Forum conference, on WGN radio and on the Thursday, Feb. 20, edition of Chicago Tonight.