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Letter: NIU Bold Futures: a healthy dialogue

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 10:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014 8:23 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Since joining Northern Illinois University in July 2013, my administration has undertaken a dialogue with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members on a variety of topics pertaining to the future state of NIU and the community we call our home, focusing on improving the NIU student experience in the context of student career success, working together in an ethically inspired manner to build thriving communities in a financially sustainable way. 

Many ideas came forth as a result of these discussions, and in January 2014, campus leaders, students, facilities staff, City of DeKalb leaders and local stakeholders met with five experts from around the country to take the input gathered over the previous six months and develop design concepts for NIU’s campus of the future. 

To start the conversation, these concepts were put on public display in the Holmes Student Center for two weeks at the end of March. Students, employees and members of the public provided valuable input and feedback regarding the ideas, as well as offered suggestions of their own. 

These ideas were also discussed during a March 27 public meeting of the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University. In late April and early May, university leaders took part in two additional discussions at a community group meeting as well as a City of DeKalb town hall-style meeting, which was also cablecast to city residents.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the process so far, and I am especially grateful to the NIU Student Association and Mayor John Rey for their role in organizing opportunities to foster open discussion and input.

We are only in the beginning stages of this discussion, and the continued input and ideas from our NIU and community stakeholders is very much appreciated.  An email address,, has been created for this very purpose. We welcome your ideas.

Our next step is a process design that will include a review and opportunity for further public input. We will continue to communicate subsequent steps regarding any of these ideas as we move forward and look forward to continuing this constructive dialogue. Together, we can make the NIU campus and surrounding community an even better place.

Douglas Baker

President, Northern Illinois University

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