NIU

Jenna Dooley

The 2018 class of the Northern Illinois University Huskie Marching Band increased by more than 50 members from last year. Tom Bough has been NIU's Director of Athletic Bands for the past 14 years. On this week's Friday Forum, he talks about how he keeps everyone tapping to the same beat.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University again experienced an overall drop in student enrollment this year.

The biggest loss was in total undergraduates, down 666 students from last year (from 13,454 to 12,788). NIU also saw an eight percent decline in the number of transfer students, from 1,716 to 1,577. Total enrollment now hovers at 17,169 students, which is a drop of 4.8 percent from this time last year.

Victoria Lunacek

Northern Illinois University re-opened the Stevens Building this year. The Stevens Building opens after years of renovations as the home of the School of Theatre and Dance and Anthropology Departments. The $23.7 million project started in 2014 and finished just in time for the 2018-19 school year. The building features a new lecture hall, box office and Black Box theater.

NPR Illinois

Students across Illinois are heading back to school. And increasingly, they’re finding alternatives to bachelor’s degrees to reach their career goals.  NPR-Illinois hosted a forum in Rockford on Thursday about training today’s workforce. Northern Illinois University associate vice president Rena Cotsones and Workforce Connection director Lisa Bly had advice for students setting off on a career path.

The Sound of Science - "Frizzy Hair"

Aug 17, 2018

Welcome to the Sound of Science. I’m Kate Powers – And I’m Mackenzie Thompson.

M: Kate, this week we have a burning question that comes to mind during the hot summer months. What is it about humidity that makes your hair so frizzy and curly?

K: As a curly hair girl, Pati, this question is close to my heart. And the basic answer to the question is simply: chemistry.

M: Chemistry? Are there chemical reactions between humid air and your hair?

Victoria Lunacek

Republican Bob Pritchard resigned his post in the Illinois House this summer. He’s now a member of the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees. When he’s not serving constituents, Pritchard, of Hinckley, can be found on his family farm. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jenna Dooley talks with Pritchard as he reflects on his time in the General Assembly and looks ahead to his new role at NIU.

A row of bright green farm equipment lines the back of a large shed. It’s all John Deere on this farm.

https://www.supremecourt.gov

One of the major stories to come out of Washington D.C. this week was President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jenna Dooley talks with Mitch Pickerill, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University.

Pickerill says the choice of the conservative Kavanaugh to replace Anthony Kennedy makes sense politically.

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Thursday’s meeting of Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees was long, reflecting a lengthy agenda. What it wasn’t, was fraught or contentious.

niu.edu / afscme.org

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a collective bargaining agreement Thursday with AFSCME Local 1890.

The five-year contract provides union members an immediate 3% wage raise and various job-related protections. Barbara Andree is President of the NIU Operating Staff Council. She says the agreement makes up for stagnant clerical worker pay.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

When Illinois public officials are dismissed for misconduct, they sometimes are
awarded large severance packages – which are paid for by taxpayers. A new proposal approved by the Senate would stop the practice.

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University employees belonging to AFSCME Local 1890 approved a contract proposal Tuesday that was nearly three years in the making. The ratification vote on the five year contract took place throughout the day at NIU's student center. NIU’s Board of Trustees will vote on the deal May 10.

Sara Dorner is with AFSCME Council 31 and was part of the negotiations. She says she thinks NIU learned a lot about what its employees have to offer during the long bargaining process, and that “we will never be neglected again.”

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

A strike by union clerical workers at Northern Illinois University has been averted. 

The university and negotiators for AFSCME Local 1890 reached a tentative contract agreement Monday night, after more than two years of talks. The agreement needs approval by the union membership and the NIU Board of Trustees.

Details are not being released until both sides finalize their draft proposal, which could happen next Monday. The union's strike education sessions scheduled to begin Thursday have been canceled.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

A clerical bargaining unit at Northern Illinois University still doesn’t have an initial union contract with NIU after their negotiations meeting earlier this week. That’s after more than two years of talks.

The more than 600 members of AFSCME Local 1890 are now looking at their legal rights to strike, according to union spokeswoman Sara Dorner.

Dorner says that’s a different approach than the union's original plan. Clerical, administrative and paraprofessional workers planned to picket on NIU’s DeKalb campus every Monday at noon until they have an initial contract.

realitybytes.niu.edu

This week is the 17th annual Reality Bytes film festival at Northern Illinois University.

  

 

Organizers say they've received more than 60 film submissions, which they will narrow down to around 20 to be viewed by the public.

 

The annual event is hosted by the NIU Department of Communication.

 

Organizer Tatianna Salisbury says there are some recurring themes in this year’s films.

 

Student Groups Rally For End To 'Legality Debate'

Apr 9, 2018
Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

Passion was overflowing at Northern Illinois University’s fifth annual “Coming Out of the Shadows” rally. The event organized by Dream Action NIU aims to push back against rhetoric that tries to dehumanize undocumented immigrants:

  

Organizers say about 200 people showed up for "Coming Out of the Shadows" in NIU’s Carl Sandburg Auditorium. The rally kicked off with music, and even some salsa dancing.

Jenna Dooley/WNIJ

Northern Illinois University bids farewell to its longtime staff meteorologist this week.

Gilbert Sebenste has been passionate about the weather for a long time. He says that, when he was four or five years old, he attended a picnic with his parents when the weather started to turn ominous.

“… then all of the sudden as I am riding a kiddie ride -- it was a helicopter ride that went about 20 feet above the ground -- and as I am spinning around up there, I look west and I see these angry, boiling clouds," he recalled. "I am like, ‘Oh, this isn’t good.’”

The Deadline Has Passed, But DACA Status Remains In Limbo

Mar 30, 2018
Jessie Schlacks/WNIJ

It’s been nearly a month since the deadline passed for Congress to make changes to the DACA program – or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This week’s Friday Forum brings us different perspectives on the issues faced by this immigrant group.

Last fall, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to end the DACA program. Lawmakers were given six months to form a compromise bill -- but didn’t accomplish the task by the March 5 deadline.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The search for a new president for Northern Illinois University is getting underway. The Presidential Search Preparation Committee held one of several public meetings Thursday.

The committee’s announced mission is to create benchmarks based on current practices and trends related to presidential searches and contracts, and prepare a draft of the job description as well as a document listing “points of pride” for the university.

Northern Illinois University continues to get "written up" for the way it manages tracking of property and equipment. According to a compliance audit released Thursday through the state's Office of the Auditor General, an inventory certification reported 1,288 items ($1,624,740) of equipment could not be located by the university. The listing included approximately 520 computers, servers, CPUs, or other electronic storage devices.

This finding has been repeated since 2015.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Last week, Northern Illinois University presented its Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing a graduate who’s achieved outstanding professional success. This year’s winner is Andrew Traver, Director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, more commonly known as NCIS.

Traver discussed his path to heading this federal law enforcement agency, and how his job compares with what is portrayed on the "NCIS" TV show.

NIU Alumni Association

Northern Illinois University gave out its 2018 Alumni Awards on Friday.  The ceremony recognized eight alumni who’ve distinguished themselves in areas such as public service and the sciences, as well as giving back to the school in some form. The most prestigious award is Distinguished Alumni, which goes to an alumnus with outstanding professional success or recognition. Other awards honor achievements in public service, science, and the arts, as well as the work of young alumni (under 40 years old). 

The honorees are as follows:

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees has signed on to a bill that would guarantee stable funding for the school while imposing several performance standards.

NIU Hosts 'Engaged Learning' Conference

Mar 7, 2018
Emily Reed / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University hosted its first Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship Conference on Tuesday.

The focus of the conference was for NIU faculty and staff to learn from one another. Participants were selected by a faculty panel.

NIU graduate student Chris Kraner expressed his enthusiasm for interacting more with his department.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

This WNIJ special originally aired in 2008 and is a compilation of news coverage, commentary, and event audio gathered by WNIJ's news team. Hosted by Bill Drake.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Ten years ago today, a former Northern Illinois University student opened fire in a classroom. Five students were killed; 17 more were shot; and four others were injured while escaping. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens remembers what it was like to be on campus then and in the difficult days that followed.

There are five faces that stay with you. Five students who will always be here, on the NIU campus in DeKalb. Five students who will never get to follow the community motto adopted from the Huskie fight song, “Forward, Together Forward.”

Wikipedia

Northern Illinois University is looking for companies willing to purchase naming rights for its Convocation Center. The facility is the home court for several of the school’s athletic teams. It also holds concerts and other large-scale events.

The university sent out a request for proposals at the end of January and is now holding tours for any interested parties upon request. Associate Athletics Director John Cheney says some local and Chicago-based companies have already expressed interest.

Northern Illinois University students recently took to social media to express concerns about supposed online watch lists kept by the university on certain student groups.

A Twitter account claimed that NIU kept social media watch lists of students in certain groups, including athletes and members of sororities and fraternities. University officials say those lists are merely entries using the software Maxient software for electronic records of certain types of incidents. NIU is one of 800 institutions nationwide that use the software.

Northern Illinois University will be back in court Wednesday, possibly to resolve a lawsuit that contests the circumstances of the severance package for former NIU President Doug Baker after his resignation in June.

Misty Haji-Sheikh, a DeKalb resident and activist, claims the NIU Board of Trustees violated the Open Meetings Act. She maintains the Board did not give the public enough notice or opportunity for input on the matter during the June 15 meeting.

NIU Agrees That AFSCME Unit Can Receive Pay Raise

Oct 16, 2017
NIU

Northern Illinois University and union officials have agreed to a tentative three-percent pay increase for more than 600 clerical, administrative and paraprofessional employees. 

Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman announced last month in her State of the University address that she would pursue a university-wide increase for eligible employees not in open union contracts. That proposal will be presented to the NIU Board of Trustees on Thursday.

NIU Releases Latest Safety And Security Report

Oct 5, 2017
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University saw a large drop in drug- and alcohol-related reports over the past two years. The 2017-2018 Annual Safety and Security Report also shows a slight increase in sex offenses.

Alcohol related judicial referrals were nearly cut in half, from 301 incidents in 2015 to 170 in 2016, according to the federally-mandated report.

There were 64 fewer drug related judicial referrals reported.

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