Northern Illinois University

NIU Basketball Coach Prepares for Next Season

May 7, 2021
Northern Illinois University

After the first full season of basketball amidst the pandemic, NIU’s new men’s basketball coach is reflecting on a year like no other. 



Rashon Burno is the new head coach for NIU’s men’s basketball team. He says that he felt overwhelmed during the last season amidst the pandemic. 


NIU COVID-19 Dashboard

NIU officials asked students via email to consider returning home a week before the end of the semester. The move comes as the university has seen a “significant increase” of COVID-19 cases including more than 100 positive tests in the past two weeks.

Jared Ortega

Imagine walking in the woods and coming across six large men struggling to transport a coffin on their shoulders, heads bowed in concentration, arms taut under their burden. It might take you a moment to realize you’re looking at a sculpture: Six life-sized somber mourners and a casket.

NIU Today

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees on Thursday unanimously approved extending NIU President Lisa Freeman’s contract through Fiscal Year 2025. The trustees praised her for advancing the school’s educational mission and her leadership during the pandemic. President Freeman said she wants to build upon this success. 

“With this contract renewal," she said, "I am so enthusiastic about the opportunity to build on our positive momentum and continue to work with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends and partners to move NIU forward.”

A new book aims to shine a greater light on the history of Irish immigrants to Illinois. 

The work is a product of two people, Northern Illinois University history professor Sean Farrell, and his former doctoral student Mathieu Billings, who now works at the University of Indianapolis. Farrell said a key motivation behind the book, and its title, was to broaden the scope by which people see “The Irish in Illinois.” 

Spencer Tritt

Morelia Garcia was helping an afterschool program at her high school when the principal walked by. He started asking her the sorts of questions everyone approaching graduation gets: “What are your plans for college? You want to be a teacher, right? Well, how about here?”

They both laughed and Garcia countered with the sort of question everyone approaching graduation wants answered: “Can you actually help me pay for school?”

Northern Illinois University

Domestic protests continue against the military coup in Myanmar. A Northern Illinois University professor hopes they will lead to a democratic transition.

For decades, the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar was controlled by a military junta. This regime held free elections in 1990. That’s when democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a majority of seats. But the military didn’t cede power for nearly two more decades. 

NIU Board Of Trustees Approves Minor Tuition Hikes

Feb 18, 2021
Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees approved a minor tuition increase for undergraduate students entering in the coming school year. This comes after five years with no change in rate. NIU President Lisa Freeman presented the rate proposal to the board.

“In the context of NIU’s commitment to accessibility, affordability and student success, the recommendation for this request is a 1.5% increase in base tuition and no change in undergraduate differential tuition rates.” 

This means the per-credit hour rate for new students will go up by $5.23 in the fall. 

Northern Illinois University Career Services is holding a virtual career fair Wednesday open to NIU students as well as the public.

“Frankly, our employers really appreciate being able to connect with as many candidates as possible,” says Cathy Doederlein, director of internships and external relations at the Career Services department. She says they’ve retooled all of their programs and moved them online during the pandemic.

Northern Illinois University

Turning the conversation away from partisanship may be key to an effective speech from the new president.

That’s according to Dr. Ferald Bryan, a professor at Northern Illinois University specializing in political rhetoric. He says Joe Biden particularly looks up to Robert Kennedy, and a similar tone could begin the process towards bridging the divide among Americans.

Spencer Tritt

During the pandemic, schools are seeing a significant teacher shortage, especially a lack of substitutes. They typically see a surge of subs and new teachers in January as winter graduates enter the job market.

But in 2021, it’s unclear if that boost will come for Illinois schools suffering staff shortages due to COVID-19.

Susan Stephens

Just a quick drool and you'll get results back in 24 hours. Northern Illinois University will begin using the SHIELD Illinois rapid COVID-19 tests in January. The saliva tests were developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Barrie Bode is the director of COVID-19 facilities at NIU. He says just remember not to eat, drink or use mouthwash within an hour of a saliva test.

Susan Stephens

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees approved several major fiscal measures at its latest meeting Thursday. 

First, they approved a fiscal year 2022 budget request of $98.9 million. This is compared to $93.6 million last fiscal year. They also approved several cost changes for students. Chief among them is a new 80 cent per credit hour fee for culture and diversity programming. President Lisa Freeman said the money will help attract “high value” speakers that a lone student organization couldn’t bring in on its own.

City of DeKalb

DeKalb’s mayor and the president of Northern Illinois University emphasized cooperation and economic development at a State of the City event Thursday.

Mayor Jerry Smith touted several successes, such as the arrival of Facebook and the Ferrara Candy Company to DeKalb. He also highlighted a joint effort with the University to help small businesses cope with COVID-19.

“From the get-go, a group got together to see what could be done to help these businesses, and DeKalb County UNITES was born.”

Young Birders Want You To Join The Club

Nov 18, 2020
Tony Del Valle

There's a new bird watching club on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb and they want their fellow NIU students to join them. It's called Inclusive Birding Club and Tony Del Valle is the trip chair. He coordinates birding trips and hikes. He said the group is safe, welcoming and judgment-free; and that they are inclusive in every sense of the word.

NIU Researcher Developing Potential New COVID-19 Test

Nov 16, 2020
Northern Illinois University

A Northern Illinois University researcher is working on a less uncomfortable way to test for COVID-19. 

The standard test for COVID-19 involves shoving a long swab deep up a patient’s nose and analyzing the resulting sample. Chemistry Professor Beth Gailliard’s method would instead have a patient gargle a bottle of water and spit it back into a tube. NIU Chief of Staff to the President Matt Streb said the test is still in development, but could make the testing process less unpleasant. 

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University will be offering free COVID testing Monday through Wednesday to students, employees, and the community. 

NIU Chief of Staff to the President Matt Streb said it’s particularly timely with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Chase Cavanaugh

A newly proposed scholarship would give Rockford Public School students an opportunity for free tuition and fees at Northern Illinois University.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said the impact of the Rockford Promise scholarship program for the Rockford community is beyond just education.

“We know that educational attainment is an education in and of itself is directly tied to public safety. It is directly tied to neighborhoods; it is directly tied to economic development,” he said.

NIU Faculty Weigh In On Post-Election Ponderings

Nov 6, 2020
Northern Illinois University

Election Day may be over, but there is plenty to talk about before the inauguration. 

Voters are still glued to their screens to find out who will lead the nation…and what the final vote has to say about how a politically divided country will move forward.

That’s behind the timing of a virtual panel Thursday night. Experts from Northern Illinois University’s colleges of Law and Political Science took questions from the community about different election-related subjects. 

STEM Café Explores The Science Behind Haunted Houses

Oct 28, 2020
Northern Illinois University

This year, Northern Illinois University is hosting a series of virtual STEM cafes. One of them, "The Psychology of Haunted Houses" will break down what it takes for "a good scare." 

Taking on this task are collaborators Paul Kassel, dean of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts, and Jim Langley, scene and lighting designer and retired theater professor. The two will focus on chemistry, lighting technology and the brain to explain how to make haunted houses more effective.

NIU STEMFest Virtual This Year

Oct 28, 2020
Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s STEMFest celebrates the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The annual event usually draws large crowds to the NIU Convocation Center. Not the 2020 edition. 

This year, STEMFest will culminate with a virtual celebration on October 31st from 10am to 2pm. 

STEMFest organizer Dr. Kristin Brynteson noted that the online platform allows visitors to customize their STEM experience.

Pixabay user ArtsyBeeKids

A Northern Illinois University professor says presidential political polls are likely to be more accurate this year than in 2016. 

Political Science professor April Clark said there were several complicating factors in 2016. These included a greater percentage of nonpartisan voters to consider and the timing of their votes.

“In 2016, we had a large percentage of late deciders that broke for Trump, but we don’t have that same pool of undecideds that can break for him," she said. "So the chances of him turning this around are diminishing.” 

Flickr user Images Money / "Tax" (CC BY 2.0)

A Northern Illinois University professor says a graduated income tax wouldn’t have much of an effect on many Illinois residents. 

Dr. Kurt Thurmaier is the chair of NIU’s Department of Public Administration. He says most people would pay a rate of around 4.9% of their net income.

“If you have that much money left over, you have $60,000 left over, you’re good. You have the same tax. There’s no change. But if you have the same equivalent of four to six households after all your expenses, you’re going to pay higher tax.”

719 Northern Illinois University freshmen received the Huskie Pledge grant this fall, during the first semester it was offered. It covers remaining tuition and fees for Illinois residents with a minimum 3.0 GPA in high school and whose family income is no more than $75,000.

Sol Jensen is the VP of enrollment management, marketing and communications at NIU.


A voter registration site for students at Northern Illinois University will not be open on Election Day. 

The Holmes Student Center currently serves as an on-campus early voting site and a place for students to register to vote up through Election Day. But the DeKalb County Clerk recently announced the site would not be open for these services on Nov. 3, 2020.

Jenna Dooley

Northern Illinois University is expanding COVID-19 testing efforts into what some might consider an unexpected place: wastewater.

Dr. Barrie Bode was the longtime chair of NIU’s Department of Biological Studies. Now he has a new title he could have never anticipated: director of COVID-19 facilities.

Partnered with the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District, Bode is building a lab and assembling a team to implement a new component in the university’s surveillance testing plan.

Pixabay user Tumisu

The effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent. Experts suggest there is a narrow window in which to act before they get worse.

Various weather events have highlighted the effects of climate change in the public eye. These include wildfires, hurricanes, and heavy rain. Ross Powell is a professor emeritus of sedimentology and climate change at Northern Illinois University. He’s noticed significant ice loss during his research in the Arctic. He said the U.S. could quickly heat up if nothing is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The increased politicization of choosing Supreme Court justices has at least one academic suggesting an end to lifetime appointments.

Artemus Ward is a political Science professor at Northern Illinois University. He says lifetime appointments politicize the process by having justices time their departures during politically advantageous climates. The recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he said, threw the Supreme Court into election year politics.

Connie Kuntz

"River Weaving” by John Siblik is environmental art that you may have seen if you’ve gone by the Kishwaukee River in DeKalb recently. It features 90 elements made of willow, stone and steel. They curve and bend into the water, creating a shape like a hunter’s bow. But the art doesn't hunt fish and wildlife -- it hunts litter. 

"We found a lot of cans, a lot of bags and a mattress," Siblik said. "And a coronavirus mask, some shoes, a hairbrush...lots of booze bottles."

The U.S. Census Bureau is urging Illinois residents to respond before the end of the month.

Sherrie Taylor is a senior research specialist at Northern Illinois University's Center for Governmental Studies. She said more than 96% of the people in the state have already sent in a response, but several groups remain elusive.