Message from the Dean

Laurie Elish-Piper
Laurie Elish-Piper

Hello from DeKalb!

Spring is certainly struggling to arrive in northern Illinois, but amazing things are in full bloom in the NIU College of Education.

With just the first quarter of 2018 on the books, we’re celebrating James Cohen’s upcoming Fulbright to Uruguay and Leslie A. Sassone’s Great Professor Award from the NIU Honors Program.

U.S. News and World Report once again recognized our online graduate programs in the nation’s Top 5. New and exciting partnerships are being forged on campus and beyond. Hands-on learning opportunities offered to our students are expanding in innovative and impactful ways.

Our faculty remain devoted to delivering a cutting-edge education. They continue to conduct interesting research, and they’re including students in that work. They are finding novel ways to share their wisdom and expertise through blogging and podcasting.

Yet there are challenges around us.

As you might have heard, NIU is anticipating 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 NIU Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications (EMMC) to promote our programs; this includes online advertising campaigns for four of our online graduate programs. 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 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.

Recent trips have taken us to Arizona, California and Florida to renew and build strong relationships.

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-cloudThose of you who track us online might 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 my colleagues 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.

Please stay in touch with us; we’d love to know what accomplishments you’re celebrating!

And, while you’re online, we hope you’ll like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check often to read our latest stories.

My best,


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