Message from the Dean

Laurie Elish-Piper
Laurie Elish-Piper

If you’ve come into the lower level of Graham Hall this fall, you’ve seen the stairs.

Our values are displayed clearly on that first flight of steps, telling one and all just who we are in the NIU College of Education. Student-centered. Experiential. Research-informed. Inclusive. Collaborative. Innovative.

Those words inspire and energize me every time I come to work, reminding me of why we’re here, what we believe and what we deliver.

Even better, they remind me of you.

As we reach the middle of this semester, one of mostly on-campus, face-to-face teaching and learning, I am seeing every day, and in person, why it’s such an honor to serve as the dean of this great college.

Yes, I realize that this transition back has not come easily for all of us. Some of the stress of the last 20 months remains, and I recognize that some are struggling. This situation is exhausting, and we are tired. Each day requires courage, strength and resolve, and sometimes our reserves of those precious commodities feel like they are not quite enough.

But your commitment to our students, your resilience through difficult circumstances and, maybe more than anything, your physical and emotional return to our hallways and classrooms has buoyed my spirits and encouraged me to match your heart and passion for our mission.

Just as we discussed during our all-college meeting in August, we are devoted to making our students, faculty and staff feel and know that they belong here – and now we are actively working to do so. We pledged to reconnect to our humanity – to achieve dignity, respect, trust and safety – and we are consciously processing what that means.

We’ve celebrated this fall the beginning of our Dr. LaVerne Gyant Alumni Mentoring Program, and we’re looking forward to what will blossom from these new relationships. We’re busily developing and planning new hands-on Educate and Engage experiences for students that will connect them to their chosen fields and challenge them to look at their world in a different way.

Please know that I appreciate you. Please know that I applaud you. Please know that I am following your example to embrace this time, to improve myself and to serve our team in the way you are serving our students.

Finally, I’m happy to support a new way for our College of Education family to come together and have fun. Our Fall Door Decorating Contest will brighten our hallways, offices and departments; the owners of the doors with the most  spirit will receive our new traveling trophies. Will it be you?

My thanks again for all you do.


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