M. Joan Popp Motor Behavior Lab opening underscores power of giving back to NIU

Joan Popp
M. Joan Popp
August 24, 1929 – September 13, 2017

Opened in 1964 – the year the Beatles first came to America – NIU’s Anderson Hall definitely can show its age in some corners.

Not in the new M. Joan Popp Motor Behavior Laboratory, however, which sports new paint and a sleek, modern look from the ceiling to the floor. It also is equipped with the latest technology, including motion capture, gait analysis and force plate systems.

University leaders and members of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education family gathered Oct. 2 to formally celebrate the space.

The event provided a clear reminder of the importance of philanthropic spirits like Popp’s.

“For a number of years, when the state has been providing less and less support to the university, support from donors has become increasingly important,” NIU College of Education Dean Laurie Elish-Piper says. “It’s very exciting to receive this gift to renovate this lab space to turn it into a really cutting-edge teaching and research space.”

Popp, a retired faculty member who died in 2017 at the age of 88, kindly remembered NIU and her longtime academic department in her estate.

Her generosity also has funded numerous scholarships for students in physical education, kinesiology and athletic training as well as for NIU Huskie tennis players.

Scholarship support is a priority for the College of Education, which listed that area of giving on top of possibilities for donors to NIU’s Day of Giving campaign in May 2019.

Recruitment and retention scholarships help attract and retain the best and brightest students, regardless of their financial situations. Students also appreciate financial assistance in buying textbooks, paying for exam fees and funding travel for internships or student-teaching.

Gifts to the college’s “Educate and Engage” program, meanwhile, enable students to learn and/or teach in life-changing experiences throughout the region, across the country and around the world. This travel is offered at little or no cost thanks to donor support.

The college also is grateful for departmental and strategic-priority gifts.

For example, avenues to follow in Popp’s footsteps are available throughout the College of Education and its numerous buildings.

Naming opportunities in Graham and Gabel halls include Cavan Auditorium, the Learning Center and other innovative learning spaces. Inside Anderson Hall, donors are invited to support the swimming pool, two gymnasiums, three kinesiology laboratories and the Athletic Training laboratory.

For more information, contact Alberta Solfisburg at (815) 753-7339 or asolfie@niu.edu.

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