DeKALB – DeKalb and Sycamore officials welcomed Douglas Baker, the incoming president of Northern Illinois University, with open arms at a ceremony Wednesday.
Baker was unanimously selected Tuesday by the NIU Board of Trustees to succeed John Peters as NIU president. He is currently an executive vice president at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.
DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said he felt a connection with Baker when he interviewed him as part of a community panel last month.
“He has the ability to connect with individuals and people that he meets with,” Povlsen said. “There’s a sincerity, a genuineness, that’s as impressive as the experience he brings with him.”
Baker told the assembled leaders Wednesday that it’s impossible to move the region forward without a strong sense of community. His audience at DeKalb City Hall included local government officials, and candidates for elected office.
During his time at Idaho, Baker said he has had regular meetings with community leaders.
“If we have a divisive community or culture, and we’re not heading the same direction, or we’re not having ... good conversations around hard things, that’s not good,” Baker said. “We need to build that sense of trust and respect ... and there are a variety of ways to do it.”
Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said he hoped to keep building the relationship between NIU, DeKalb and Sycamore. Gregory noted that Sycamore is home to many NIU teachers, staff members, and alumni.
“We’ll see where there are opportunities for partnerships,” Gregory said. “I’m confident with the vision he’s laid out, his administration will welcome that.”