FISCAL YEAR 2019 ANNUAL REPORT
I MPAC T
U n l ea sh ed!
THANK YOU FOR UN
They call it VO2 Max. It’s the amount of oxygen an animal can utilize during intense activity. A husky has a VO2 Max of 240 milliliters per kilogram per minute. That’s higher than a thoroughbred or even a cheetah. That means they can go and go and go.
Sound familiar? When it comes to reaching their goals, NIU students are relentless. But the path to graduation isn’t always easy.
UNLEASHING THEM. Many students are the first in their families to go to Âcollege. Some come from very challenging Âcircumstances. Many work several jobs to pay tuition and make ends meet.
But Huskies never quit, and neither will the alumni and donors who support them. Their impact is illustrated in the pages that follow.
A MESSAGE FRO M TH E BOA RD C HA I R A ND THE P RE S I DE NT A ND C EO
It’s a great time to be a Huskie! Our University community is galvanized in support of President Lisa Freeman’s vision to make NIU “an engine for innovation, creativity and social mobility that empowers students, faculty and staff to make a difference.” In this report, we want to celebrate the people who fuel this engine of progress and keep it moving forward: our donors. Fiscal Year 2019 was a remarkable year for the NIU Foundation. Our fundraising activity reached nearly $22M, including a multimillion-dollar estate pledge for scholarships and $775,000 raised during our Huskies Unleashed Day of Giving. As we reflect on the accomplishments of the past year, we are incredibly proud. Great work was done to expand the Red and Black fundraising gala, to establish the NIU Presidential Award for Visionary Leadership and to further many other important initiatives. In the coming years, we will continue to build on this success as we welcome Michael Cullen as our new board chair. We have every confidence that Mike, a dedicated Huskie, will maintain the momentum our donors have helped us achieve as we reach for ever greater heights. As you read this report, we trust you will be as moved as we were by the incredible love and support Huskies have for NIU. With your help, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
Jeffrey Yordon, ’70 Immediate Past Chair, NIU Foundation Board
Catherine B. Squires, CFRE, NIU ’80 President & CEO, NIU Foundation Vice President of University Advancement, Northern Illinois University
Jeffrey Yordon, ’70
Catherine B. Squires, ’80 v
ABO UT THE NI U FOUNDAT I ON
Across the country and around the globe, Huskies are changing the world with their energy, hard work, and gifts to others. Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf. Creating life-changing opportunities for NIU’s hardworking, dedicated students and faculty is the NIU Foundation’s highest priority.
is to develop, support and
is to energize and connect the
encourage a culture of giving
private sector with the NIU
throughout the NIU community.
community to secure and steward
The vision of the NIU Foundation
The NIU Foundation’s mission
resources that support the future and growth of NIU.
TABLE O F CONT E NTS
SUMMARY OF FINANCIAL DATA
ENDOWMENT FUND PERFORMANCE
HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR REMARKABLE YEAR Investiture of NIU President Lisa C. Freeman
Huskie Pride Unleashed! Unleash a Huskie Video
Unleash a Huskie: Day of Giving
Red and Black Gala Supports Scholarships
Gratitude Unleashed: A Celebration of Scholarships
Distinguished Donor Event: Morton Arboretum
Northwestern Medicine Performance Center
STORIES OF IMPACT Remembering the Forgotten: Krista Ekberg, ’18
Continuing the Legacy of a Former Nurse: Rachel (Shapland) Gaudio, ’18
Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future: Ari Norris, ’19
Altgeld Icon Gets a New Patron: Tom Scott, Ed.D., ’75
Promoting Activism and Responsibility: Isabel Odom-Flores
The Heart to Care and Knowledge to Help: DaQuan Russell-Watts
Professor Provides Meteorology Students Best Lab Experience
Rewarding Independence and Resilience: Rachel Sanchez
NIU FOUNDATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
N OTA B LE NU MB E RS
MADE POSSIBLE BY REMARKABLE DONORS
NEW GIVING IN FY19
Gifts from all sources in FY19 including unrealized bequests
NEW GIVING BY SOURCE
47% Outright Gifts and Pledges: $10,149,451
52% Unrealized Bequests: $11,407,892
Gifts-in-Kind: $233,678 Total Number of Donors
TOTAL RAISED FOR NORTHERN FUND (ANNUAL APPEAL):
TOTAL RAISED FOR THE U NIVERSITY’S STRATEGIC PRIORITIES:
$3.25 million +26%
OVER FISCAL YEAR ’18
$378,230 + 9%
OVER FISCAL YEAR ’18
Total Number of Donors Who Gave to Strategic Priorities
The NIU Foundation has AWARDED $21.5M IN SCHOLARSHIPS in the past 10 years.
of NIU students are FIRST-GENERATION college students
of NIU students receive FINANCIAL AID
9 out of 10
scholarship recipients graduate college
SU MMARY O F F I NA NC I A L DATA JULY 1, 2 01 8 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; JU N E 30, 2 01 9 (N ET ASSETS)
ACTIVITY - Year Ended June 30, 2019
ASSETS Cash and Investments and In Trust Donor Promises to Give Buildings and Land Other Assets
2,875,933 23,152,937 134,391
LIABILITIES Accounts Payable and Accrued Liabilities Bonds Payable
CHANGE IN NET ASSETS
Scholarships and support of University departments and programs Total Expenses
NET ASSETS June 30, 2019
EXPENSES - Year Ended June 30, 2019
Services Contract Income
Remainder Interest Due for Gifts In Trust Gifts and Accounts Managed for NIU and NIU Alumni Association
NET ASSETS, JULY 1, 2018
11,361,035. 2,900,145. 125,158,694.
NET ASSETS, JUNE 30, 2019 $128,058,839.
For complete audited financial statements and IRS Form 990, visit www.niufoundation.org.
GRANTS TO NIU Total Grants
$10,167,224** 6% Depreciation and interest on NIU Foundation Buildings for Student Use $624,772
34% Scholarships $3,435,150
60% Support of University Departments/ Programs $6,107,302
* The New Giving in FY19 total presented on page 2 of this report includes new unrealized bequests which will be reflected in financial statements when realized in future years. ** NIU Foundation and all assets under management. 4
END OW MENT FUND P E RFORM A NC E JU LY 1 , 2 01 8 – JU N E 30, 2 01 9
Northern Illinois University and the NIU Alumni Association have designated the NIU Foundation as manager of their endowment assets.
ENDOWMENT MARKET VALUE (DOLLARS IN MILLIONS)
$79.2 BEGINNING OF YEAR $ 2.0 GIFTS TO ENDOWMENT (NET) ($ 1.1) INVESTMENT RESULTS (NET OF SPENDING) $80.1 END OF YEAR
ANNUALIZED TOTAL OVER
ACTUAL 3.6% 4.3% 8.5% TARGET WEIGHTED BENCHMARK
LONG-TERM TARGET - 7.5% 7.5%
NEW DOLLARS FOR SCHOLARSHIPS AND PROGRAMS MADE AVAILABLE BY INVESTMENT INCOME 2017-2018
The goal of setting asset allocation and e xpenditure strategy for the NIU Foundation E ndowment Fund is to m aintain the s pending power of the fund, in inflation-adjusted (real) dollars, far into the future. The NIU F oundation Finance Committee reviews the asset a llocation regularly using r anges approved annually by the NIU Foundation Board of Directors. 19.4% Equities Domestic—Large/Mid
15.3% Fixed Income
5.1% Equities Domestic—Small
9.4% Natural Resources
12.0% Equities International
4.8% Real Estate
8.9% Emerging Markets
9.3% Diversifying Strategies
7.0% Equities Private
6.7% Equities Directional Hedge 5
H I G H LIG H TS A N D STORI ES OF IMPAC T: O U R R EMA RKA BL E YEA R
I NV EST ITURE OF N I U PR ESI D ENT
Dr. Lisa C. Freeman BOARD OF TRUSTEES CHAIR DENNIS BARSEMA (LEFT) AND FORMER CHAIR WHEELER C OLEMAN (CENTER) HONOR NIU PRESIDENT LISA FREEMAN (RIGHT).
Huskies aren’t afraid to take a risk, fail, and get back up. Huskies support each other. Most of all, a Huskie is s omeone who will never give up, no matter what. All of this is who NIU is, and these are values that Dr. Lisa Freeman embodies.” — DENNIS BARSEMA, Chair, Board of Trustees
n April 5, 2019, hundreds of proud Huskies gathered in Boutell M emorial Concert Hall to celebrate the investiture of NIU’s 13th president, Dr. Lisa C. Freeman. With a newly revised University mission empowering students to transform the world, a national reputation as a s tudent-centered research institution, and Huskies active on seven continents, NIU is poised for a promising future that “cannot be underestimated,” Freeman told the crowd. Dr. Freeman first joined NIU in 2010 as vice president of research and graduate studies, soon advancing to
From athletics to academics to our alumni events, LisaFreeman is involved and c ommitted. She’s engaged. She’s everywhere.”
— PETE GARRITY, President, NIU Alumni Association
the position of executive vice president and provost. Appointed acting president in July 2017, she became president in September 2018. “I want to leave you today knowing this,” Freeman added. “Our Huskie community is dedicated, smart, deeply caring, innovative and persistent— relentless, really—when it comes to learning, creating and living in ways that champion and advance our students and society.”
Dr. Freeman has traveled with us across the country to meet with alumni and donors and to share her vision for NIU. She is universally embraced by those she meets. Our alumni and donors recognize the genuine love she has for NIU.” — CAROL CRENSHAW, Member, NIU Foundation Board of Directors 7
HUSKIE PRIDE UN LEASHED !
Unleash a Huskie Video NIU mascot Mission plays a starring role in a video inspiring pride and generosity throughout Huskie Nation.
See this video at UnleashaHuskie.org. Unleash a student's potential through scholarship support.
HUSKIES. NEVER. QUIT. YOU JUST HAVE TO UNLEASH THEM. That’s the tagline to the “Unleash a Huskie” video that swept across campus and resonated with alumni across the country. The video features Mission, NIU’s formidable—and completely lovable—live canine mascot. It was shot over a two-day period on the main NIU campus and features more than 90 members of the Huskie family, including senior leaders, faculty, staff and students. The result is a 90-second spot that is 100 percent NIU. It’s fun, filled with forward momentum, and 8
gives a nod to all members of the NIU community who give their all each day in our classrooms, labs, and fields of competition. “Unleash a Huskie” has been featured at alumni and athletics events across the country, capturing the relentless pursuit of excellence that defines NIU Huskies. The “Unleash” video is part of the NIU Foundation’s scholarship initiative aimed at providing support for NIU’s hardworking, talented and grateful students. Scholarship gifts support students from all areas of study and provide both merit- and need-based aid.
U NLEASH A HUS KI E
DAY OF GIVING STATS
Day of Giving W
hen Northern Fund staff ecided to move the annual one-day d fundraising push from the holiday season to the spring, they set what they thought was an ambitious goal: to raise $250,000 from 1,000 gifts. After all, two years earlier the Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign had raised just under $95,000 from a record 300-plus donors. Tripling the number of gifts seemed like a lofty target. No one could have prepared for the 1,400 donations that poured in, totaling $775,000.
“The day gave everyone an pportunity to support what they o are most passionate about at NIU,” said Natalie Troiani, associate director of the Northern Fund. She added that advocates and ambassadors from all seven colleges and campus entities such as the library, athletics, and the honors program helped spread the word among their respective audiences.
r efreshing” to see the message take hold. “There are so many people who might
OF DONORS WHO
not know how to give back or know
MADE A GIFT ON
where the money goes,” L opez said.
“This was an o pportunity for us to be very v isible and say, ‘This is where your funds are going.’” A day of giving is an easy point of entry for donors who may not have given in the past because they can’t manage the kind of big gifts that make headlines. Lopez said she gave $250 and challenged her network to “add or drop a zero.” “We got a lot of $25 donations,” she said. “It was interesting to see how people chose to give and how they challenged their friends.” There were larger challenge gifts as well—alumnus Dr. Tom Scott, ’75, created a $100,000 challenge that was met when the number of gifts reached 500.
WERE NEW DONORS.
OF DONORS WHO MADE A GIFT ON THE DAY OF GIVING ARE ALUMNI.
245 gifts SOCIAL MEDIA
HELPED TO RAISE $38,271 FROM 245 GIFTS.
We were blown away by the generosity. Everyone came together for the common goal of making NIU better.” — MICHAEL ADZOVIC, Director of the Northern Fund Sandy Lopez, Coordinator for Undocumented Student Support in the Department of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Co-President of the Latino Alumni Council, said she “had a ball” participating in the day. As a University employee and a double alumna, it was “telling and
TEXT MESSAGES WERE SENT FROM THE HUSKIE ENGAGEMENT CENTER.
All seven colleges had giving challenges, most of which were met. Adzovic and Lopez said that those involved are already planning how to apply the l essons learned next year. “I am very proud to have been a part of it all,” added Lopez.
R ED AND BLACK GA LA
Supports Scholarships N
early 500 guests attended the NIU Foundation Red and Black gala Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center. The evening inspired a generous outpouring of support – $208,000 to provide scholarships for NIU students.
VISION FROM THE NEW PRESIDENT NIU President Lisa C. Freeman shared her vision for NIU—a vision that alumni, donors and friends are bringing to life each day:
"When I look at NIU, I see a University that is on the path to becoming a first-choice destination for smart, determined young people who come with grit, imagination and a hunger for learning. I see a diverse and welcoming University community that includes individuals with different social identities and lived experiences—a community where different perspectives are brought together to address complex contemporary problems. I see a University that empowers students to work hard, take risks and achieve their full potential… one that is among the most recognized in the country for research and the social mobility of its students." 10
SHARING HER VISION FOR NIU
Dr. Lisa C. Freeman
AWARD FOR VISIONARY LEADERSHIP
Established in FY19, the NIU Presidential Award for Visionary L eadership recognizes leaders who bring NIU Huskie values to life by embracing innovation, creativity, and social mobility. Jerry Reinsdorf was honored with the inaugural NIU Presidential Award for Visionary Leadership in November 2018 for his support and loyalty to NIU and his steadfast commitment to the City of Chicago through education and diversity.
NIU FOUNDATION IMPACT SCHOLARS Eleven students were recognized as NIU Foundation Impact Scholars at the Red and Black. Picture below (L to Right): Talon Diaz, Anthropology; Amber Sayles, Chemistry; Karina Palomo, Nonprofit/ NGO, Political Science; Mikerra Hall, Marketing; Tyrique McNeal, Music Performance; Blake Hill, Mathematics E ducation; DaQuan Russell-Watts, Anthropology; Krista Ekberg, Psychology; Samantha Smolka, Special Education/Visual Impairments; Ryan Scheri, Communicative Disorders; Diana Jarocki, Communicative Disorders.
GRAT IT UDE UN LEASH ED
A Celebration of Scholarships I
n April, more than 200 people filled the Altgeld Auditorium for Gratitude Unleashed: A Celebration of Scholarships. The luncheon provided an opportunity for donors
and their scholarship recipients to meet, share lunch, and hear from inspiring speakers including President Lisa Freeman and scholarship recipient Ray Banks.
DIST INGUI SHE D DON O R EVENT
Morton Arboretum T
he NIU Foundation hosted the 2018 Distinguished Donor Societies event on July 12 at The Morton Arboretum. More than 200 guests
e njoyed hors d’oeuvres and guided tours as well as messages of gratitude from NIU students.
N O RT H W ESTER N M ED I C I NE PER FO R M ANC E C ENT E R
Improvements to Health & Wellness N
orthern Illinois U niversity thletics officially dedicated the A Northwestern Medicine Performance Center and Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni Association of NIU Nutrition Center in FY19. This is a watershed moment for NIU Athletics," said NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier. "It's a remarkably positive turning point. Our students are job one, we are student-centered. This kicks the door down in terms of the student-athlete experience—in mind, body and spirit." The Center includes physical improvements to the NIU strength and conditioning area in the Y ordon Center, the a ddition of the Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni A ssociation of NIU Nutrition Center in the Barsema Hall of Champions which will serve all Huskie student-athletes nutritional needs, and an increased emphasis and programming in the area of mental health. NIU President Lisa Freeman referenced the key partnerships that made the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center & Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni Association of NIU Nutrition Center a reality. "This would not happen without strong relationships, Huskie pride and bonds in the Huskie family that transcend time and transcend the walls of the university," Freeman said. "From the leadership of Phi Sigma Kappa Alumni A ssociation, who know that having strong athletics makes us stronger in the community, to the partnership with Northwestern Medicine. As the two largest e mployers in our region, NIU and N orthwestern Medicine, w orking together, have the ability to move everyone forward—the health system, the university and our larger community."
R EMEMBER I NG THE FO R G OTTEN
Krista Ekberg, ’18
fter graduating with a degree in psychology last December, Krista Ekberg, ’18, looks forward to a future as a forensic psychologist, helping to improve the mental health system. Ekberg’s passion for helping those diagnosed with m ental health disorders is fueled by her brother’s experiences living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. “It affected my family so much,” Ekberg explained. “We were torn apart. He wasn’t always getting the help that he needed. And when he did and was then released, he was forgotten about and would have to start all over again.” Like so many NIU students, Ekberg began her college career at a nearby community college. During her first year at NIU she worked full-time while taking a full course load and commuting from Rockford. When Ekberg was awarded the NIU Foundation Impact Scholarship, she was able to devote more of her time and attention to getting involved on campus and taking part in important research opportunities. “If it weren’t for this scholarship, I never would have been able to volunteer in the psychology labs at NIU. Working in these labs is where I developed the passion for psychological research and, ultimately, the desire to
pursue a Ph.D. in psychology,” she said. Today, Ekberg is working as a research project assistant at DePaul University in Chicago while preparing to apply to Ph.D. programs this fall. She passionately shared her gratitude for the generosity of donors. “Thank you for your investment in me,” she said “Because of your generosity, I am the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. I am so grateful for and humbled by this experience.”
CO NT INUI NG THE LEGACY O F A FO R M ER NU R SE
Rachel (Shapland) Gaudio, ’18 R
achel (Shapland) Gaudio, ’18, had an a mazing NIU experience, all thanks to a benefactor she never met. Gaudio, a neonatal intensive care nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, served as president of the NIU Student Nurses’ Organization. She was an honors student and a peer tutor, and she received the 2018 Kevin D. Knight Leadership Award. Gaudio had the time and freedom to actively engage on campus because she was one of nearly 1,400 NIU nursing students to receive the H arold W. Finney and Janet P. Finney Scholarship Fund, established in 1979. That scholarship support allowed Gaudio to focus on her studies and get the most out of her campus experience without the d istraction of how to make ends meet until graduation.
“They invested in our students, and by i nvesting those funds to ensure their sustained growth, the NIU Foundation has seen to it that the Finneys’ legacy and impact will continue for generations.”
“The scholarship was a really big deal for me,” she said. “It made me feel like someone was investing in my future and believed in me.” A former nurse himself, Finney connected with a nervous student nurse while he was hospitalized in the 1970s. Finney calmed her as she provided his care, and after his hospital release, he visited the NIU School of Nursing to see the classes firsthand. Like so many donors, Finney made an emotional connection to the students and decided to provide the resources to prepare them for future success. He donated several training mannequins before establishing the scholarship fund. Over the next 40 years, the fund disbursed $1.5 million in scholarships. Finney met many of the recipients personally, taking great pride in handing them their checks. He also counseled the students on how to save a portion of each paycheck to ensure a retirement nest egg. “With their gift, the Finneys put into practice the advice that Mr. Finney was known to give students,” said Catherine Squires, ’80, Vice President of Advancement at Northern Illinois University and President and CEO of the NIU Foundation.
HO NO RI NG THE PAST, SHAPI NG THE F U TU R E
Ari Norris, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;1 9
ri Norris, ’19, may be young, but he is already making waves in the art world. After selling his first commissioned sculpture while a junior at NIU, Norris has
“BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY” BY ARI NORRIS, ’19, ON DISPLAY AT THE USS LST 393 VETERANS MUSEUM IN MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN.
enjoyed a steady stream of commissions. Shortly after completing his bachelor’s degree, he opened his first solo exhibit, at Chicago’s prestigious David Salkin gallery. Norris, the son of two artists, was i ntroduced to sculpture by renowned h istorical sculptor Gary Casteel. During his junior year at NIU, Muskegon Community College in Michigan commissioned him to sculpt a bust of influential instructor Doris Rucks. Three months later, he received his second c ommission, for a life-sized statue on display at the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum in Muskegon. Norris was able to fund the majority of his time at NIU with commissioned work, but he was nervous about covering tuition his senior year. Serendipity struck in the form of the Sally Stevens Scholarship in the Arts. “The scholarship made a huge difference by reducing how much I had to cover, so I could really focus on school and studio work,” Norris said. “It
SALLY STEVENS AND ARI NORRIS, ’19, VISIT AT THE BARSEMA ALUMNI AND VISITORS CENTER.
couldn’t have come at a better time.” After retiring from NIU in 1996, Sally Stevens endowed three scholarships in the College of Visual and Performing Arts—one each in the School of Art and Design, School of Music, and School of Theatre and Dance. Stevens worked as an executive assistant for six NIU presidents, from 1964 to 1996. Over her 32-year career, she said, she frequently attended NIU student performances and exhibitions. “When I retired, I thought it was time to pay that back,” she said. “They had given me so much entertainment over the years.” Norris had the chance to thank Stevens at a luncheon for scholarship recipients and donors. Stevens said she was impressed by the sculptor’s humble attitude and the photos he showed her of his work. “He’s a very personable young man and an outstanding artist,” she said. “The community and the alumni should know of his great work.” 17
ALTG ELD I CON GE TS A NEW PATR O N
Tom Scott, Ed.D., ’75
Northern Illinois University’s beloved campus icon, Olive Goyle, has a new patron.
hen donating to NIU, many donors want to leave their mark on a place they hold dear. Classrooms, suites, buildings and more bear the names of benefactors. The NIU Foundation now offers naming opportunities at the University’s birthplace, Altgeld Hall. “Altgeld is the oldest and most prestigious building on campus,” said Alberta Solfisburg, Director of Advancement for the College of Education. “We are offering naming opportunities in Altgeld to raise funds for scholarships and the University’s highest priorities.” With a qualifying gift to the NIU Foundation Strategic Priorities Fund, donors may name features or spaces within Altgeld Hall. The first donor to place his mark was longtime College of Education donor Tom Scott, Ed.D. ’75. The former NIU associate dean was excited at the chance to attach his name to Olive Goyle, one of NIU’s most cherished landmarks.
first, and for a time the only, building on NIU’s campus. T oday, the m ajestic structure houses administrative offices and the NIU Foundation as well as student-focused departments and grand public spaces. Olive is one of the Altgeld grotesques, goblin-like creatures that perch atop the main tower and along the walls of The Castle. Campus tradition holds that sometime in the 1960s, Olive was struck by lightning and knocked from her perch. She was repaired and remounted, only to be struck by lightning again. Rather than tempt fate—and a third lightning strike—the University placed her in the garden to the east of The Castle. Today, students and visitors frequently pose for photos with the friendly-looking statue. Scott said he was drawn to the grotesque because of a long-held interest in the statues and in their close kin, gargoyles. In ancient architecture, both gargoyles and grotesques were intended
The gifts of our generous donors are more important than ever to ensure NIU can continue to meet its mission of e mpowering students.”— CATHERINE SQUIRES ’80, Vice President of Advancement, President and CEO of the NIU Foundation.
“Naming opportunities at Altgeld Hall are just one more way donors can express their affection for NIU while opening doors to future generations of Huskies.” Altgeld, known informally as “The Castle,” was completed in 1899—the
to protect the building and its occupants by warding off evil. “I’m fascinated by them,” he said. “More important was knowing I was contributing to young people going to college. I’m happy to help with that any way I can.” 19
P RO MOTIN G ACTI VIS M AND R ESPO NSI B I LI TY
quiet determination marked Isabel Odom-Flores’ sophomore year on campus. A transfer student, Odom-Flores’ whistle-blowing courage at her community college had prompted the removal of a softball coach alleged to have harassed Isabel and her teammates. But taking a stand resulted in the loss of Odom-Flores’ h oped-for scholarship. The 19-year-old had no idea how she would afford college. Enter 1972 Huskie alumna Rita Dragonette, whose NIU years came at a time of enormous social upheaval. Dragonette had just completed “The Fourteenth of September,” her debut novel, set on a fictional campus modeled after NIU. She wrote about the Vietnam Era through a female student’s “coming of conscience” journey— when integrity trumps consequences—as she faced a fateful decision. Mirroring the novel’s thematic centerpiece, Dragonette established the Coming of Conscience Scholarship. Applicants wrote essays describing their own Coming of Conscience moments along with their plans for how they would use their degree to help change the world. In her winning essay, Odom-Flores recounted the difficult experience of risking and losing the scholarship her future depended upon in order to right a wrong. A communicative disorders major in the College of Health and Human Services, Odom-Flores said the scholarship money will help her toward her goal of earning a master’s degree in speech-language
ISABEL ODOM-FLORES, COMMUNICATIVE DISORDERS
pathology. “I really want to help spread the activist spirit of what we did back when our country and campus were challenged 50 years ago and engender it in the coming generation,” said Dragonette. “I feel that paying it forward is part of the obligation of the education we gained here. It’s completing the circle for the future.”
TH E H EART TO CAR E AND KNOW LED G E TO HELP
f you have ever wanted to see a living e xample of determination, you need look no further than DaQuan Russell-Watts. Russell-Watts is the first in his family to attend college. He made straight As his first semester, but as the second semester loomed reality set in—he couldn’t afford to keep going to school. He had to take off a semester to work. But Russell-Watts was determined to complete his education. He returned to NIU with the help of the NIU Foundation Angel Touch Scholarship. “The scholarship I received from the NIU Foundation allowed me to continue attending NIU,” he said. “It has removed the burden of worry about finances and allowed me to focus more on my coursework. Most importantly, it has given me a sense of achievement.” Russell-Watts is studying anthropology at NIU, with minors in biology and c hemistry. Inspired by the depiction of forensic anthropology on the television series “Bones,” he decided anthropology was the career for him. He hopes one day to use his training to assist in disaster relief. “I found it fascinating to learn about how people from different parts of the world interact,” he said. “I love to meet people from different backgrounds and enjoy learning about their customs.” When exploring universities, Russell-Watts felt it was kismet when he found one of the writers of “Bones” is a faculty member at NIU. Now in his junior year, he has not been disappointed in his choice of school. “NIU is shaping me into a capable scientist, leader and humanitarian with the heart to care and the knowledge to help,” he said.
DaQUAN RUSSELL-WATTS, ANTHROPOLOGY
TO WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT HOW SCHOLARSHIP SUPPORT KEPT DaQUAN AND HIS IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER, DaSHAN, IN SCHOOL, VISIT WWW.NIUFOUNDATION.ORG. 21
PROFESSOR PROVIDES M ETEO R O LO GY STU D ENTS
Best Lab Experience
An estate gift from Dr. Allen Staver provides state-of-the-art technology.
hroughout his 26-year career teaching in the NIU m eteorology program, Dr. Allen Staver had a dream for every student that entered the program. He wanted them to have the best lab experience possible, so they would be prepared for career success. Staver was so committed to his desire, that upon his death in 2018 he left the department $150,000 to revamp the meteorology lab. “I was stunned,” said Dr. David Changnon, Chair of the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences. “This gift will impact every student here for years to come.” Upon learning of Staver’s bequest, the meteorology faculty made a wish list of everything they would put into a world-class laboratory. Then Dr. Victor Gensini made it his personal quest to find out how many of those dreams could be made real.
were remodeled and wired with interactive technology that allows students to access data and model weather events. The new technology offers an interactive and engaging learning experience Changnon says rivals facilities on the nation’s top campuses. Senior Kyle Pittman said he was drawn to NIU because of the enthusiasm and professional connections of the faculty, and he is confident the new tools will give him and future students a boost as they enter the working world. “As the old adage goes, you are a product of your environment,” he said. “You really have to put in the work here, but they’ve given us all the tools to be successful if we’re willing to work for it.” Alumni involvement is key to the meteorology program, said Gensini,
I love this lab, and it’s going to be great to show it to prospective students, but it will only be important to them if they can see themselves using it." — DR. DAVID CHANGNON, Chair, Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences
“I took it as a personal challenge to create the best lab possible,” Gensini said. “I wanted it to be competitive, not just with other programs in the Midwest, but really to be the best it could be.” The updated weather lab is a suite of three rooms. A smart classroom and a computer lab are connected by a small pass-through room equipped as a group study space. The classroom and computer lab
who received both his B.S. (’08) and M.S. (’10) degrees from NIU. He wants alumni to be proud of the new weather lab, but hopes they realize there is more to be done. “We have a great foundation, but we’re not done yet,” he said. “The Staver gift got us to a c ompetitive place, but we would like to use it as a springboard to build an even better experience for future students.”
R EWARDI NG IN DE PEND ENC E AND R ESI LI ENC E
o Rachel Sanchez, journalism isn’t just another major; it’s her calling. But her passion comes at a price. Sanchez is one of many students financing much of her own education. So, when she received an email last spring that she was one of two students selected to receive the prestigious Donald R. Grubb Scholarship from the NIU Foundation, her whole world changed. “I was ecstatic,” said Sanchez, a rising senior. “Everything went quiet when I read that email. I think I was in shock. It was a burden taken off my shoulders.” Despite working for the University while being an active full-time student, Sanchez struggles to foot the tuition bill. “I’ve had to take out loans, and seeing those high interest rates and how much it accumulates really scares me,” she said. “But I’m not going to let anything stop me from getting my degree.” “I think the R in Rachel’s name stands for resilient,” said Sandy Lopez, one of Sanchez’s advisors. “She has not had an easy journey since she began college, but she has not let that deter her from accomplishing her goal of earning her degree.” Sanchez said that she and her fellow scholarship recipients are truly grateful for the opportunity they’ve been given— and won’t let their donors, professors, advisors, or themselves down. “To me, a scholarship means more than just money. It means that I am succeeding,” she said. “I am taking advantage of my time here as a student, and I am proud to be carrying on a legacy that each donor has left for us.”
NIU FO UNDATIO N BOA RD OF DI REC TORS FI SCAL YE AR 2 01 9
OFFICERS & LEADERSHIP Chair Jeffrey Yordon Political Science ’70 President & COO, Athenex Pharmaceuticals
Vice Chair Michael Cullen Finance ’84, Accountancy ’87 President & CEO, First Midwest Bank
President & CEO
Chris Cole Accountancy ’75 Retired Senior Vice President, Finance Strategy, McDonald’s USA, LLC
Catherine Squires Music ’80 V.P. University Advancement, Northern Illinois University
Melissa Nigro Director of Board Relations, Chief of Staff, NIU Foundation
William Taylor Accountancy ’67 Retired Partner, Deloitte & Touche
Directors Stacey Barsema President, Barsema Foundation William Boston Marketing ’70, M.B.A. ’71 Chairman & CEO, DynamicSignals, LLC Brent Brodeski Finance ’88, M.B.A. ’91 CEO, Savant Capital Management, Inc. John Burns English ’88 Founder/Chairman, Citizens Rx Kenneth Chessick M.D., J.D. J.D. ’84 Medical Negligence Attorney Chairman & CEO, Restaurant.com Carol Crenshaw Accountancy ’78 Retired Vice President & CFO, The Chicago Community Trust Cynthia Crocker Marketing ’80 Retired Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, Corporate Communications, Equity Group Investments
John Thomas Futrell M.B.A. ’79 Senior Vice President, First Trust Advisors, LLC Montel Gayles Communication ’83 Owner & Founder, Gayles Consulting, PC David Heide Marketing ’85 Managing Director & Financial Advisor, RBC Anthony Kambich Education ’59 President, Deerfield/North Shore Montessori Schools John Landgraf Biological Sciences ’74 Retired Executive Vice President, Abbott
Jaymie Simmon Education ’70 Writer Christine Speiser Education ’73, M.S. Education ’83 Consultant John (Jack) Tierney Marketing ’75, M.S.Ed. ’78 Executive Director, Unit Trust Division, Invesco Ltd. Janet Viane Management ’80, M.B.A. ’83 Chief Strategy Officer, Red Caffeine
Ian Pearson Student Political Science/NGO Studies James Pick, Ph.D. M.S. Education ’69 Professor, School of Business, University of Redlands, CA Manny Sanchez Political Science ’70 Founder & Managing Partner, Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP
ALTGELD HALL 135 DEKALB, IL 60115 815-753-1626 NIUFOUNDATION.ORG