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Huskie Pride

September 19th, 2013

Pride, according to some definitions, is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging. At NIU, Huskie Pride results from each of these.

First, let me start with the sense of belonging that comes from being a part of the just, caring, open, disciplined, and celebrative university community that is NIU. We are a community, and yes, in many ways, one large, extended family. We look out for each other and work together to create a vibrant and diverse campus learning environment that fosters student career success. Earlier this week, a small group of dedicated alumni and students gathered at NIU-Naperville to discuss the creation of a formal alumni mentoring program geared toward providing NIU students with alumni mentors to help shape and foster their NIU experience and start them on a path to student career success.

Today we extended the bounds of our NIU family to include royalty. I had the privilege of conferring on Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for her academic contributions to science and education as well as humanitarian causes, bettering lives and building community. Our Southeast Asian Studies Center is celebrating 50 years of our mutual partnership with the people of Thailand.

Pride is also the product of independent self-reflection. The university recently completed a period of introspection through an unvarnished, critical eye, and the result was the campus-wide embracing of the Vision 2020 Initiative, a blueprint for NIU’s future based on hard data. We also conducted a top-to-bottom self-study in conjunction with the ongoing Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation process. Additionally, over the summer, I have led six external task forces and numerous internal meetings to examine areas critical to NIU’s future; together we are developing additional plans to improve the way we deliver a top-quality education to empower our students and position them for success at graduation.

Third, pride is a product of praise, and recent rankings should provide the NIU community and extended family with a deep sense of pride. Whether it is the recently issued U.S. News rankings that place NIU among the top 100 national public universities, Washington Monthly rankings that list NIU as a best value institution, the academic and athletic honors our student-athletes earn, our status as a “Best for Vets” military-friendly school, or the rave reviews we’ve received for our “residential renaissance” and the recent re-opening of Gilbert Hall, NIU students, faculty, staff, and alumni have much of which to be proud.

So let’s pause and take time to celebrate all things Huskie and all that is NIU this weekend during Huskie Pride Weekend, highlighted by our first home football game Saturday evening. I look forward to seeing you then!