NIU

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Former Northern Illinois University police officer Andrew Rifkin was charged with sexually assaulting a female freshman student at NIU in 2011.

Following his arrest, Rifkin was interviewed by two university police officers for about two and a half hours. That interview was recorded.

Rifkin's attorney, Bruce Brandwein, says a large portion of the recorded interview was not recovered. He also says there are missing text messages between Rifkin and the victim from days following the incident.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

We’re learning a lot more about the workhorse of the world’s flower beds and planter boxes: the Petunia Genome Project is complete, with the help of researchers from Northern Illinois University.

NIU professors Tom Sims and Rick Johns were among the primary researchers in the four year project. Johns says mapping the petunia’s DNA involved 50 researchers from 10 countries.

Science used to be one scientist working in a lab with a few students but now international collaboration is the rule, not the exception.

Stopgap Funding Shores Up NIU

Jul 4, 2016
NIU

  Last week’s stopgap budget measure provided additional funding to higher education, including Northern Illinois University.  The measure provides 48 million dollars for NIU’s  institutional operations. 

With this funding, NIU now has about 80% of the money that it requested for the previous fiscal year.  Although it’s categorized as operational expenses, and doesn’t have the limits of a line-item budget, Finance and Administration Vice President Al Phillips says most of this cash will go toward university payroll.  He also says the stopgap bill is only a short term solution.  

An Illinois appeals court has reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit against a Northern Illinois University fraternity by the family of a pledge who died in 2012.

The Daily Herald reports the family of David Bogenberger sued the NIU chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, arguing the fraternity and its members were responsible for Bogenberger's death because pledges were required to participate in excessive drinking to gain membership. 

The 19-year-old died in 2012 with a blood alcohol level of .43 percent after a fraternity party.  

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.

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 Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to rescind Dennis Hastert's honorary degree from the school. The Board met Thursday afternoon to discuss the matter during a special meeting.

    

Hastert received an honorary law doctoral degree in 1999. Earlier this month, the university announced a move by a committee to revoke the award. 

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.”

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.

NIU

The status hearing scheduled this week involving NIU Controller Keith Jackson and university officials has been reset to Aug. 30.

In 2015, Jackson filed suit for wrongful termination against NIU, the university’s Board of Trustees, President Doug Baker, and former interim CFO Nancy Suttenfield.

The decision to move the status hearing in Rockford follows a motion by the defendants to dismiss the case. Keith Jackson must respond to that motion by May 19. NIU and Baker then must reply by early June. 

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.

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. 

NIU

Faculty members at Northern Illinois University are moving to form a union.  NIU faculty on Thursday filed an intent to unionize with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. 

NIU Associate Professor of History Rosemary Feurer says in a news release announcing the filing that a union will give faculty a greater voice to improve NIU, for the benefit of students and the community.

The United Faculty Alliance of Northern Illinois University would represent more than 600 tenured and tenure-track faculty members across NIU.

wiu.edu

As some colleges and universities head toward a fiscal cliff, lawmakers are talking about ways to keep them afloat. 

One plan would only fund five schools. State Rep. Rita Mayfield, a Waukegan Democrat, says money would go to Chicago State University, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University, and Southern Illinois University. 

She says those are the schools most at risk of shutting down. 

Hmong History On Display At NIU's Pick Museum

Apr 9, 2016
Chase Cavanaugh

The Northern Illinois University Pick Museum of Anthropology is hosting an exhibition and oral history exhibit about the Hmong. 

This Southeast Asian group has lived across China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, but has a very recent history.  During the 1960s, the Hmong were recruited by the CIA to fight against the North Vietnamese in Laos.  The clandestine nature of these operations gave the brief conflict its name,  "the Secret War."  

NIU Today

Northern Illinois University recently signed an agreement with Kishwaukee College Wednesday making it easier for students studying manufacturing to earn a four-year degree.  Kishwaukee students can take additional courses online and after a third year of instruction, transfer to NIU.  After the final two semesters, they will receive a Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree. 

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University police observed Women’s History Month by hosting an event called "Women of the Shield" that commemorated women officers rising through the ranks.

NIU officer Weyni Langdon says she didn’t see a lot of people that looked like her at the beginning of her career, but she had a lot of women police mentors that inspired her. She wanted to create this type of gathering for the DeKalb area after she attended something similar when she first started out as a police officer.

Northern Illinois University

A three-year-old FBI probe of Northern Illinois University is over, according to the school. But the FBI won’t confirm that. 

In March 2013, FBI agents searched NIU’s public safety building, removing boxes of records, but not revealing what they were looking for. It was believed to be focused on former police chief Don Grady and head of finance Eddie Williams.

Jenna Dooley

Training a new generation of effective leaders often involves mentoring through a shared passion. It involves someone with a strong skill set who is willing to help someone else feel the spark.

We continue our occasional series “Pass The Torch” in a workshop at DeKalb High School where the robotics team is getting ready to bring their creation to competition. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University’s president responded this week to complaints about his travel expenses.

UPDATE: 1/8/16: The request to move the case from Chicago's Eastern Division to Rockford's Western Division has been granted. Jackson's attorney, Alejandro Caffarelli confirmed the decision to WNIJ.

Background

Keith Jackson has been NIU’s Comptroller since 1999. He was placed on paid administrative leave, and filed a federal wrongful-termination lawsuit Oct. 2 against Northern Illinois University, the Board of Trustees, President Doug Baker, and former interim CFO Nancy Suttenfield.

NIU Holds December 2015 Commencement (Photos)

Dec 13, 2015
Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University hosted its December commencement ceremonies last weekend. Hundreds of students gathered in the Convocation Center for graduation activities.

NIU President Doug Baker acknowledged a handful of students for what he calls notable achievements. This is his third year as president.

Northern Illinois University

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees and President Doug Baker intend to file a Motion to Dismiss a case involving Keith Jackson, who was suspended from his job as university Controller. Additionally, court documents show the defendants want to change the venue from Chicago to Rockford.

A Parties' planning meeting was held Nov. 24 by telephone including Alejandro Caffarelli, representing Keith Jackson, and Helena Wright for the Board of Trustees and President Doug Baker.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University students will rally Thursday to bring attention to the state’s budget impasse.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is the keynote speaker at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation Dinner.

Before he takes the stage, students, staff, and other community leaders will be in the center of campus calling for awareness of cuts to MAP grants, social services, and the halt in construction of the Stevens Building.

NIU

Northern Illinois University Police concluded their investigation into the death of Oluwarotimi Okedina, who died Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, after falling from a window in the Stevenson Towers residence hall complex.

NIU Homecoming Events Begin This Week

Oct 19, 2015

Homecoming events are set to kick off this week at Northern Illinois University.

The Huskies will play against Eastern Michigan at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday. As a warm up, NIU students are welcome to tailgate at The Yard.

The spirit of Homecoming is expanding beyond game day.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Bilingual employees are in hot demand. At least that’s what a recent survey by Northern Illinois University found. One of the greatest areas of need is for teachers with skills in more than one language. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens spoke with NIU Professor James Cohen, who specializes in bilingual education.

                                                                                                                         

NIU Interim Budget Considers 'Worst Case' Cuts

Sep 23, 2015
Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The chief financial officer at Northern Illinois University says cuts already are being considered after NIU trustees announced an interim budget last week due to the state budget stalemate.

Al Phillips, the vice president of finance at NIU, says those university cuts include food costs and program prioritization.

“While furloughs or layoffs -- depending on what happens with the state -- could be a possibility, it’s not something that we’re actively considering at this time,” Phillips said.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University leaders held a town hall meeting with employees yesterday to outline budget challenges. NIU President Doug Baker and top administrators talked about efforts to bring in more students and streamlining operations. They also answered questions about whether people will lose jobs under the state’s budget uncertainties.

NIU Athletics

Northern Illinois University's goal for football game attendance this year is 6,000 students at each of the six home games. Officials announced a multi-thousand dollar incentive for them to attend. 

If a student attends all six home football games and checks into a special app every time to prove they stayed the whole time, they are eligible to enter a drawing to win tuition for the Spring 2016 semester. 

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