To the Editor:
As a longtime Dekalb area resident (50-plus years) and a Northern Illinois University graduate (three times), I have followed the Daily Chronicle’s coverage of a self proclaimed “bold” vision revealing itself with a great deal of interest.
The big problem at NIU (the county’s biggest employer) is freshman retention. How many nonreturners attend school elsewhere? A poll of the nonreturning sophomores would not likely reveal that they were disgruntled by the lack of easy access to downtown. The city’s quest to expand sales-tax revenue has sent shoppers to the big-box stores on Sycamore Road and the brand-name food shops (and beverage emporiums) that have sprouted up all along the NIU perimeter.
The mission of NIU is the education of the younger generation; failure to retain a large proportion of initial consumers suggests the need for a detailed examination of the experience of the newcomers. This work is not glamorous and is not likely to result in a “photo op” for university or city officials. However, such work is essential for the university and the DeKalb community; something in which all of us have an interest.
Some bold visions actually turn out to be expensive pipe dreams; consider the white elephant on the west edge of campus as an example that if you build it, they may not come.