Message from the Dean

Laurie Elish-Piper
Laurie Elish-Piper

Like many, I find myself in awe of the #NeverAgain students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Their resiliency and courage in the face of tragedy, coupled with their willingness to speak up, have affirmed my confidence in the future. These amazing young people are informed, intelligent and eloquent, and they are trying to make a positive change in this country.

Images and video of the March for Our Lives, which drew those students and countless thousands of young people to the streets of Washington, D.C., and their hometowns from coast to coast March 24, brilliantly illustrated the depth of their resolve and the urgency of their call to action.

Of course, their voices also serve to remind me of the importance of one our main roles here: preparing teachers at all levels along with principals, counselors, superintendents and others who work in and around schools.

Caring, talented and responsive educators are profoundly critical in helping schools rise above and prosper in these challenging times.

Even if we in higher education feel sad, or worried for the future of our schools, we cannot ignore what’s happening as we prepare our students for the reality of today’s schools. That’s why we’re working with the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation to incorporate safety training protocols into our programs now.

clin-2While these are challenging times, our students who plan to become teachers are passionate about teaching.

They are passionate about wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of their students, their families and their communities. They understand the enormous demands of teaching today, but they are eager to get started making the world a better place through education.

Our job, therefore, is to ensure that our curriculum is current and relevant; that we provide the support our students need to succeed; and that we are strategic and efficient as we face significant financial challenges.

As you might have read in January, NIU anticipates a gap of up to 8 percent between projected revenues and expenses.

I have worked closely with the College of Education Senate to build a college budget that focuses mainly on generating revenue but also reduces spending in ways that we believe will have limited impact on students, faculty and staff.

Our goal when creating the budget has been to remain academically responsive and fiscally responsible. We believe that we have proposed ways to steady the ship, and we expect that senior leaders in Altgeld Hall will provide us with a budget update in the very near future.

strategic-frameworkFor our part, we are ahead of the curve. We continue to make progress on our Strategic Action Planning Framework as department chairs work with me to review their action plans and the Senate identifies the metrics to measure our work.

Meanwhile, we are collaborating with our colleagues in the Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications to promote our programs; this includes online advertising campaigns for three of our online graduate programs as well as the BSAM-ITTE. We’ve also embarked on a website update that features a more dynamic homepage along with more customized navigation within our departmental websites.

Our rich partnership with EMMC also brought a busload of high school students from Future Teachers Clubs in Elgin Area School District U-46 to campus March 22. They and their teachers were so impressed with our academic programs, our engaged learning opportunities and the friendly and welcoming climate on our campus.

While not on a bus, Judy Schneider, our director of Advancement, and I have been traveling to share our mission with alumni and donors.

We recently visited Florida to renew and build strong relationships and to talk about the amazing things going on here.

Judy just visited alumni in Arizona, she and I had a wonderful lunch meeting with alumni in Lake Forest and we hosted an event for nearly 20 alumni in Palm Desert, California, last weekend. There are so many great stories to share about the inspirational work and accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff.

We also are hoping to energize our retired faculty – and ourselves – Tuesday, April 10, through an event prior to the Community Learning Series. We have personally invited our retired faculty to join us that afternoon to socialize and to learn about what we’re doing in the college before we adjourn to enjoy the panel discussion.

one-word-cloudI hope to see many of you there for a night that I’m sure will inspire our work as the semester races to a close in just a few short weeks.

You might also remember that “inspire” is my “one word” for 2018, and I’m enjoying my progress in that goal. I’m inspired daily by the amazing work you are doing to teach, mentor and serve our students; to conduct and disseminate important research; and to provide service to the college, university, community and professional associations. I’d love to know how your “one words” are shaping your lives this year, so please stop me in the hall, send me a message or stop by the office to share your stories.

I am deeply grateful for all you do to make the College of Education such a wonderful place to teach, learn, work and serve.

My best,


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