Education

Education and learning

ufaniu.org

It's official. Northern Illinois University faculty members have formed a union. They were certified by the Illinois Labor Relations Board Monday.

NIU faculty members filed an intent to unionize in April: now they can get to work as the UFA -- the United Faculty Alliance of Northern Illinois University. It will represent more than 600 tenured and tenure track faculty members.

What Consolidation Means for Sub/Urban School Districts

Jun 13, 2016

Illinois has more than 8500 individual government entities – including a large number of community school districts, ranging from stand-alone elementary schools that feed into stand-alone high schools, or a completely centralized urban network of institutions.  This week, Chase Cavanaugh explores how the processes that play out in rural communities doesn’t necessarily apply in the cities.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The Northern Illinois University Anthropology and Theatre & Dance departments will be without a designated academic building for at least one more year.

The renovated NIU Stevens Building was supposed to be finished by this fall, but the state budget impasse delayed the project.

NIU spokesman Joe King says that, if the school gets funding by next month, the “best case scenario” would be that the construction will be done by fall 2017. But he says the longer it takes to pass a state budget, the longer those students don’t get those “first-rate facilities.”

The Streator Elementary District board is considering applying with the state for a waiver to pursue the shortened week.

Officials say it could result in more than $300,000 in savings.

The district faces declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

In fact, the district faces state intervention if it doesn’t resolve its budget issues.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis is pushing Governor Bruce Rauner’s plan to make sure schools open on time this fall.

The Republican has called for sending an extra 100 million dollars to schools — the one area of the budget he has not held up in order to pass his legislative agenda.

In a conference call with reporters today, Purvis deflected questions about Rauner’s remarks this week, in which he described some Chicago Public Schools as “crumbling prisons.”

Eastern Illinois University

 A fund set up to help Eastern Illinois University employees who lost jobs due to the state's budget stalemate is taking applications from potential recipients. According to the Mattoon Journal-Gazette, the group called Support EIU Employees has raised more than $12,000. 

The group is taking applications from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays in the upstairs lounge in the County Market grocery store in Charleston. Eastern Illinois is located in Charleston, about 50 miles south of Champaign. 

NIU Retiree Rose From Student To Dean

May 30, 2016

Promod Vohra chose Northern Illinois University for graduate studies three decades ago because he found the campus a friendly and welcoming place.

As he prepares to retire as dean of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology he has good memories and high hopes for his university.

Vohra is looking forward to his newest plans, which include being Senior Vice President for global human resources and talent management strategies at American Cyber Systems, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Gillian King-Cargile / NIU Press

A new STEM children’s book about a toy bunny and his human friend explore several different facets of science will debut at the end of this month.

The first book of the Stuffed Bunny Science Adventure Series is The Toy and the Twister, which talks about tornadoes. The second and newest book is titled The Toy and the Tide Pool.

Low-income high-school students enrolled in courses at three Illinois community colleges can now qualify for federally funded Pell Grants through an experimental program announced this week by the U.S. Department of Education.

Among the 44 U.S. colleges invited to participate in the program are Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois Central College in East Peoria, and Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.

adapted from Flickr user Dannielle Blumenthal / cc x 2.0

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education wrote a letter to schools across the country last week regarding the rights of transgender students. The list includes best practices to ensure the safety and comfort of students who identify as a different gender from their sex assigned at birth. It advises school officials on matters like using preferred gender pronouns of those students. WNIJ contacted a number of area school districts about the policy: only two replied, including LaSalle-Peru Township High School.

NIU Spring Graduates Recognized For Achievements

May 14, 2016
Katie Finlon / WNIJ

More than 2,500 students were honored during the Saturday undergraduate commencement ceremonies at Northern Illinois University.

Friends, family, and relatives filled the stands of the Convocation Center for graduate activities. 

NIU President Doug Baker acknowledged three students for what he calls notable achievements. ROTC graduate Maria Colompos was one of those students recognized for their accomplishments while attending NIU. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

63 years ago, the Korean War came between a Northern Illinois University graduate and his cap and gown. Now, he’s back on campus to make the long-delayed march with his fellow grads. 

In May of 1953, Gus Trantham’s parents took a train from Chicago to DeKalb to accept his diploma in a ceremony he couldn’t attend.  Trantham was in the Navy by then, behind enemy lines in Korea.

Kishwaukee College

A familiar man “behind the scenes” in DeKalb County has a new position at Kishwaukee College.

Bill Nicklas has been chosen to help Kishwaukee President Laurie Borowicz develop strategic partnerships with businesses and communities. He'll also evaluate the school's strengths and opportunities for expansion. The position is temporary: he'll report his findings in six months.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University administrators approved parking permit price increases for the coming year. 

The last time NIU increased parking permit prices was in 2011. NIU officials say the hike is to help raise additional revenue for the $5 million backlog of necessary parking lot repairs. 

The change affects students and faculty who wish to purchase parking permits. 

Reserved parking prices were increased more than other permits; remote parking passes will now be free.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A Northern Illinois University committee says the school should revoke Dennis Hastert’s honorary law doctoral degree. That’s according to a news release from the university.

According to a news release, the committee said in a memo to President Doug Baker that Hastert’s recent felony conviction and sexual abuse testimony “do not reflect the values of the institution.”

Baker will take the recommendation to the NIU Board of Trustees during its 2 p.m. May 19 meeting. Additional comment from NIU officials was unavailable.

skillsusa.org

Several students at Kishwaukee College will get to show off their technical skills in a national contest next month.

Skills USA is an organization for students enrolled in technical programs including welding or nursing. Every year, the group holds competitions that give those students an opportunity to showcase their talents in events like mock crime scenes or repairing a dent in a car.

The highly anticipated Program Prioritization Task Force reports were released shortly after 3 p.m. Monday afternoon on the Northern Illinois University website.

NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman told WNIJ News that the Prioritization reports are a step in the process which began in 2014 and will continue for some time to come.

She urged everyone reading the reports to take a broad view.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at Northern Illinois University recently hosted a screening for a movie about the role of women in different media in the U.S.

The film was called Miss Representation, which was about how women are portrayed in American television, magazines, music and broadcast news and the issues those women face. It was the first time NIU’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center hosted a documentary screening like this, and the idea was to have people come watch it and discuss what they saw afterwards and relate it to their own experiences.

Acting Dean Will Head NIU College Of Education

Apr 29, 2016

Following a nationwide search, the Northern Illinois University College of Education has turned to one of its own as its leader.

Dr. Laurie Elish-Piper, acting dean since 2015, will become permanent dean July 1.

NIU Provost Lisa Freeman praised her extensive knowledge of education issues and her two decades of experience at NIU.

Elish-Piper is a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Presidential Engagement Professor in the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education.

Northern Illinois University has named the next leader of its College of Business. 

  Balaji Rajagopalan starts his job as Dean July 1st. Currently, he heads the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend. 

NIU provost Lisa Freeman praised him for his collaborative style. 

Vicki Snyder Chura / Rochelle High School

A tradition continues at Rochelle High School this morning: it’s “Ag Day,” a showcase for the area’s farming heritage.

Non-farmers will get the chance to climb on tractors, check out the school’s greenhouse, and learn which animals you can pet -- and which ones you shouldn’t.

U.S. News & World Report

A few high schools in the WNIJ listening area ranked in the state’s top 50. That’s according to two national lists released yesterday.

Those schools include ones in Saint Charles, Cary, Barrington, Aurora and Naperville.

Clifford Mirman

Apr 19, 2016

Clifford R. Mirman is currently the Chair of the Department of Technology at NIU.

Dr. Mirman was awarded the NIU Presidential Engagement Professorship Award in 2011 for his work in both academic and industrial transfer within the university. Dr. Mirman has a long history of developing engineering and technology programs for various level of study, both in the United States and abroad.

Kendall Thu

Apr 19, 2016

Kendall Thu is a Presidential Engagement Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University.

He has been the editor of Culture and Agriculture, served on the Boards of the National Association of Practicing Anthropologists and the Central States Anthropological Society, is a Fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology, and served as President of Culture and Agriculture. He also served a two-year term on the National Agricultural Air Quality Task Force under U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.

NIU And China: The Case Of BTBU

Apr 18, 2016

Major universities often have working relationships with their foreign counterparts.  While these often lead to collaboration and exchanges of students and faculty, it takes something extra to get those relationships started and keep them going.

“The clock has started” for a potential Chicago Teacher’s Union strike. That’s according to union president Karen Lewis.

The countdown to the possible strike began after the union rejected the recommendation of a neutral arbitrator to accept a contract offer from the nation's third-largest school system.

The union says the earliest a strike could begin is May 16, about a month before the last day of school. It says it also could strike in September, when school resumes for about 400-thousand students.

NIU May Soon Install More Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Apr 13, 2016
Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University is in the early stages of a proposal that would implement gender-neutral bathrooms.

NIU’s chief diversity officer Vernese Edghill Walden says the proposal is still in the planning stage, but a draft should be completed sometime during the summer or fall semesters.

Kristen Myers directs the Gender and Woman Studies department at NIU. She says the school has ranked as one of the most LGBT-friendly schools in the past … but the only thing that would help is gender-neutral bathrooms.

Northern Illinois University

The student senate at Northern Illinois University appointed its first female speaker last week.

NIU student association senator Christine Wang begins her tenure as speaker this summer. She says she’s happy with the progress of the student association senate in selecting its first woman speaker. 

“It’s a huge move for NIU,” Wang said. “It showcases a lot of our diversity and how much we emphasize on it. I think it means that we’re moving forward with the changing dynamic that is our society today.”

Illinois college students will march for higher education funding and MAP grants in Springfield next week.

At least 60 students plan to take part in the march. That’s according to the march’s Facebook event.

The “March for MAP” was created by a University of Illinois Springfield student. The event was inspired by the legislature's failure to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto to a bill to fund MAP grants.

YouTube user Ford Scholars / "Jefferson Fitness Trail" Screen Shot

Two northern Illinois high schools have students competing for a $10,000 prize in a national STEM competition. The money would go to help implement the winning group’s project proposals that could benefit their schools and the community.

There are ten finalists in the Ford STEM Community Challenge. They include students from Jefferson and East High Schools in Rockford.

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