Message from the Dean

Laurie Elish-Piper
Laurie Elish-Piper

As we approach Thanksgiving each year, many of us think about the things for which we are thankful.

While we tend to do this every year, 2021 – like 2020 – feels different.

Maybe it’s the pandemic stretching on, and the fact that in the news and online, we are bombarded with stories of despair, inequity and anger in the world.

In the midst of the darkness and heaviness that many of us feel in our daily lives, I am grateful to have so many blessings in my life and to have the opportunity to express my gratitude.

I am grateful for the patience, perseverance and optimism of our students who continue to work toward their professional and personal goals, even during COVID-19. I can’t imagine being a freshman or sophomore now, learning to be a college student after completing high school online. I can’t imagine being a graduate student, juggling the demands of family, work, graduate school and the pandemic, all at the same time.

I am grateful to our staff who often work behind the scenes, but whose work is central to the college’s operation and to our students’ success. Even with so much on their plates at work and in their lives, their hard work, expertise and commitment impress me.

I am grateful to our faculty who continually figure out countless ways to “make it work” for students, in their research and in their service. Their generosity and passion inspire me and remind me of the great and immeasurable impact educators have on the lives of others.

I am grateful for the little things, like a beautiful sunset, an icy Diet Coke, an empty email box or smiling eyes greeting me in the hallway over a well-placed face mask. I am grateful for all we are doing to support our students, to keep them on track, to prepare them for the changed world that awaits us on the other side of this challenging time and to make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of their families. I know that they are thankful for your role in their education.

I am grateful to serve as the dean of the College of Education, and most importantly, I am grateful to work with each of you.

As you gather to celebrate with your loved ones, and to contemplate those things for which you are thankful, I hope your reflections bring you similar helpings of happiness, satisfaction and the motivation to continue improving the lives of others as you always have.

And in the spirit of improving the lives of others, I’m happy to announce that the College of Education is sponsoring a holiday food drive for the Huskie Food Pantry.

The need is great: During a recent meeting of the University Council, we heard the results of an NIU survey conducted in 2018 and 2019 that found 59% of Huskies worry that they will run out of food, 55% regularly cut meals because of a lack of funds and 46% reported being hungry due to lack of food and money.

The items most in need include canned goods, cleaning supplies, dry goods (such as rice, pasta or boxed macaroni and cheese), paper goods, plastic/reusable bags, protein/granola bars, sauces/condiments, spices and toiletries.

Drop-off locations are the Office for Student Success (GA 138), the Dean’s Office (GH 321) and KNPE’s main office (AN 221).

My best, and Happy Thanksgiving,


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