Northern Illinois University

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A lawsuit between the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees and Misty Haji-Sheikh regarding former President Doug Baker’s resignation continues.

A DeKalb County judge extended the temporary restraining order barring NIU from taking further action on Baker’s severance package. The next hearing is scheduled for late November.

NIU Biology Professor Gets $900K Grant For Research

Sep 6, 2017
Northern Illinois University

The National Science Foundation has awarded a research grant to a Northern Illinois University biology professor for more than $900,000.

Associate Prof. Yanbin Yin says the research purposes the grant will fund are two-fold. The goal is to better understand how plant enzymes produce and break down carbohydrates and to develop a software to help scientists better analyze that kind of data.

“So knowing which genes include those carbohydrate-active enzymes will be very useful for their downstream manifest, like design better biofuel,” Yin said.

NIU

Northern Illinois University responded Tuesday to the announcement by the Trump administration that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA -- program. 

The end of DACA could lead to those in the program losing protections that allow them to go to college or get a job without fear of deportation.

NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman emailed a statement to the campus community emphasizing the school’s commitment to admitting, retaining -- and supporting -- all its students, regardless of immigration status.

Northern Illinois University

Field trips are a hallmark of grade school, often with memorable visits to a local museum, park or business. But not many students get the same opportunity once they reach college.  A group at Northern Illinois University wants to change that.

NIU Campus Prepares For Student Move-In Day

Aug 24, 2017
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

More than 3,600 Northern Illinois University students are expected to move into campus housing on Friday.

Most of them will be coming into DeKalb between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday -- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. being the busiest point in the day.

“It’s kind of the – it’s literally the kick-off for the school year,” NIU spokesman Joe King said. “I like to say it’s like the start of the baseball season – everybody’s undefeated when they come to campus on move-in day. So it’s one of the best days of the year.”

Northern Illinois University

NIU is giving a crash course on the United States to a collection of new Fulbright scholars this week.

The Fulbright program was created in 1946 to provide scholarships to international students interested in studying in America, and for U.S. citizens to do the same abroad. This week, Northern Illinois University is holding a “gateway orientation” for 65 foreign students who will study across the country. Stephanie Brown, Associate Director of the NIU Student and Faculty Office, said the campus provides a broad base for students preparing to study across the U.S.

Flickr user Inventorchris / "IL - Northern Illinois University Campus Police K-9 Unit," cropped (CC BY-NC 2)

Northern Illinois University police officials and DeKalb fire officials say they recently completed a first as far as emergency training sessions go.

The training instructed first responders on how to care for police K-9 units in the event of an emergency.

DeKalb Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McMaster says first responders complete required Emergency Medical Services training every month touching on various subjects. But this time around was a little different.

“We’ve never had this type of training before, so it was new, it was fresh and very engaging,” McMaster said.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ News

Northern Illinois University’s Acting President said it’s time to repair the damage done by the state budget impasse.  That includes addressing employee compensation.

After more than 700 days without, Illinois has a budget and Northern Illinois University has funding for a full year.  Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman said the school must now work to make up ground that was lost during the budget impasse.

Nachusa Grassland Studies Shed A New Light On Soil

Aug 8, 2017
Northern Illinois University

The Nachusa Grasslands, near Dixon and Franklin Grove, have become the focus of a major soil study for a pair of Northern Illinois University professors.

NIU Biological science professor Wes Swingley explained why soil is so difficult to study, yet so fascinating.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

DeKalb County Judge Bradley Waller granted a temporary restraining order on Friday that bars Northern Illinois University from taking further action regarding former President Doug Baker’s severance package after his June resignation.

The university already paid Baker more than $600,000 on July 15.

DeKalb resident Misty Haji-Sheikh sued the NIU Board of Trustees in June for allegedly violating the Open Meetings Act. Waller ruled that NIU cannot take further action regarding Baker’s severance package before the next hearing on Sept. 8.

niu.edu / afscme.org

A state employee union has filed a new charge against Northern Illinois University for not bargaining in good faith.

The AFSCME Council 31 charges that NIU refused to bargain with the newly certified unit over mandatory subjects like holidays and sick time. AFSCME spokeswoman Sara Dorner says NIU suggested that the bargaining unit should withdraw proposals for language that appears in the university’s contracts with its other two units.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University officials say the school spent more than $180,000 for outside legal counsel to handle an investigation by the state Office of the Executive Inspector General into hiring at NIU.

NIU officials say the cost of outside legal counsel reflects 320 total hours worked by nine people in the outside firm. That calculates to more than $560 per hour.

CLARCOR, a filtration and packaging-materials manufacturer, donated $1 million to the engineering program at Rock Valley College.

niu.edu / afscme.org

Northern Illinois University may have to reimburse some of its union-member employees for a parking pass fee increase. That’s if the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board sides with AFSCME in a final ruling.

NIU raised its parking prices by $19 as of July 2016. At the time, the university had been negotiating a first contract with a new bargaining unit of the state employee union since February 2016, according to IELRB documents.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

Enrollment at many Illinois public universities has declined in the past decade. This coincides with the state approaching two years without a full spending plan. As a result, college-bound students have tough decisions to make.

Diane Drake / WNIJ

About 100 Northern Illinois University students, faculty, and staff will have the chance to give direct feedback on their President.

The move is part of what President Doug Baker calls a “360-degree review” of his performance.  He's evaluated annually by the Board of Trustees but, this year, both Baker and university officials want more detailed feedback.

NIU Scientists Push To Forefront In 'March For Science'

Apr 22, 2017
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Scientists across the country will step out of the lab today and into the streets, including locations like Chicago, for the “March for Science.” The event coincides with Earth Day.

Scientists think it's time to raise awareness for their respective fields. As a result, many faculty members have found themselves pushed into more active roles.

Reed Scherer is a professor of Geology at NIU.

Maddee Muuss / WNIJ

Lawmakers are grappling to reestablish ethics in the age of “alternative facts.” In a recent lecture to Northern Illinois University law students, Illinois State Senator and NIU alumna Toi Hutchinson warned against being so rigid in your positions that you cannot empathize with other perspectives.

“Democracy requires participation. Citizenship requires participation,” Hutchinson said. “If we make it so that nobody wants to touch this with a ten foot pole, then we’re cheating ourselves. We do much better when we’re all in, so we all need to be in.”

NIU

Northern Illinois University is unveiling a new type of computer login security measure in response to an increase in phishing attacks.

Phishing is an e-mail scam where users are tricked into entering sensitive information by leading them to a fake website. At any large institution, this can lead to passwords getting stolen, and the account in question has to be reset. But NIU Information Security Officer Andrew Bjerkin says hackers have increasingly used compromised accounts to send out more spam.

Developing Future Engineers -- One Cool Bracelet At A Time

Apr 6, 2017
Northern Illinois University / http://www.niu.edu/stem/programs/divas.shtml

STEM Divas is a weekly event at Northern Illinois University designed to help engage young women more in the sciences.

Jasmine Carey is a student organizer of the event. She says it’s a fun way to get more young people interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through mixing fashion and electrical engineering. How? “They have LEDs and circuits," Carey says. "They’re completing circuits on a bracelet, and the LEDs will light up at the end of the circuit.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University's president says the institution may have to consider staff reductions if there isn't a quick resolution of the state budget impasse.  

In a campus-wide e-mail, President Doug Baker noted that NIU has cut operating costs by $60 million over the past two years.  However, enrollment has declined, and state funding is down by $107 million.  

City of DeKalb/Susan Stephens/WNIJ

College towns often benefit from those who study there, but not many NIU students are visiting DeKalb’s downtown district.  So city officials went to them directly to see how they can change this trend.

Like many cities of its size, DeKalb has a well-defined downtown district that’s home to many businesses and attractions.  Economic Development coordinator Jason Michnick says they’ve also been working to constantly improve it.

Bogenberger Family Photo

A 2012 death of a Northern Illinois University student during a fraternity function could change a century’s worth of legal precedence when it comes to social host liability and alcohol. That’s if the state Supreme Court sides with the family of the deceased after last week’s hearing.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

Dozens of crosses line sidewalks near the MLK Commons. Each is adorned by a red heart, and the victim’s name and age.

A number on each cross represents a murder in Chicago this year.

Greg Zanis, a carpenter from Aurora, says he plans to build a cross for each victim. He takes them to different locations, like Englewood in Chicago.

For NIU students like Matthew Moore, the collection is eye-opening. He says the community needs to work together to stop the line of crosses from growing longer.

niuhuskies.com

The Winnebago County Coroner released the official cause of death for a former Northern Illinois University football player.  

Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz says Alex Kube died from cardiac arrhythmia, cardiomegaly and left ventricular hypertrophy. He says that means Kube’s heart stopped beating because his heart was enlarged due to a thickened left ventricle.

Hintz says Kube’s heart weighed more than 700 grams.

“To give you an example, you know, I’m 220 pounds at five foot, ten inches,” Hintz said. “My heart should weigh about 300 grams.”

niuhuskies.com

A former Northern Illinois University football player who died last week at the age of 29 had an enlarged heart, but the actual cause of death has yet to be determined. 

Alex Kube was pronounced dead Wednesday night at Rockford Memorial Hospital.

Kube most recently was an assistant football coach at Rockford East High School. He had been a star linebacker for NIU and a football star at Cary-Grove High School, where he graduated in 2006.

Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz says an autopsy was performed Thursday.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The President’s recent executive order put in place a 90-day ban on entry visas for immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen).  And it’s worrying the international community at NIU.

The concern is particularly strong among those present on a student visa.  Stephanie Brown, Associate Director of the International Student and Faculty Office, says only a small number of NIU's roughly 1,100 international students are affected directly. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Northern Illinois University campus community got a look Monday at the next phase of a plan that will shape the campus for years to come. It’s called Program Prioritization, and it’s a review of all academic and administrative programs at NIU.

Northern Illinois University

There are a few points to take note of in Northern Illinois University’s most recent safety and security report.

NIU police chief Tom Phillips said last year the goal was to crack down on illegal drug use and violent crime. According to this year’s Clery Act report, there were noticeably fewer judicial referrals for drugs, weapons and alcohol in 2015 than there were the year before.

NIU Hosts First-Ever Safety Awareness Day Next Week

Sep 27, 2016
NIU Police

The Northern Illinois University police department will host its first-ever Safety Awareness Day next week.

NIU officer Weyni Langdon says the fair’s purpose is for new members of the community – like college freshmen who haven’t been away from home before – to familiarize themselves with police departments in the surrounding area and get necessary safety resource information all in one place.

“At the beginning of the year, we have a lot of questions about which agency is which – you know, ‘Are you NIU police? Are you DeKalb police? Are you county?’” Langdon said.

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