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Northeastern launches $10 million fundraising campaign



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Looking back. Looking forward.

A message from the

President Dear Northeastern alumni and friends, Welcome to a very special edition of In Common, which features the sesquicentennial anniversary of Northeastern Illinois University. This issue helps kick off a yearlong commemoration of the people, milestones and accomplishments that have defined Northeastern and our spirit during the past 150 years. The purpose of NEIU150, the nickname of our sesquicentennial celebration, is to acknowledge our proud history while actively envisioning our evolving role with the students and the communities we serve. It is just as much about our next 150 years as it is about our distinguished past. What will become obvious to you after reading this edition is that we are not the same University today that we were at any time during the past 15 decades. We are bigger, more complex, and better than ever. And I am confident, given our history of resilience and overcoming challenges, that we are well positioned to set the foundation for an even brighter future. As you enjoy the wonderfully written historical feature by Richard Lindberg—an alumnus who has also written the soon-to-bepublished “Northeastern Illinois University: The First 150 Years”— you should also know that the equally wonderful faculty and staff are currently working hard to further grow, evolve and chart the future of Northeastern. Their efforts will be material for a sequel book, no doubt. In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of “The First 150 Years” when it becomes available. I fervently believe that Northeastern Illinois University will become a leader among metropolitan universities. As we approach another period of transformative change, let us re-engage as a University community, whether it’s through advocacy, supporting our Transforming Lives fundraising campaign, participating in Universitywide discussions about Northeastern’s future, or all of the above. So, what’s next for Northeastern, you ask? Just stay tuned. You’ll read all about it in the next edition of In Common and all the others that come after it. Sincerely,

Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D. Interim President Northeastern Illinois University











How “the little schoolhouse out on the prairie” became

University Honors scholar Anna Augustyn graduated in only


what it is today. The author of “Northeastern Illinois

three years—but she’s taking a lifetime’s worth of college

University: The First 150 Years” shares the short version

experiences with her.

of a fascinating history.




Northeastern’s partnership with the Chicago Film Society

Future cancer researcher Anthony Smith didn’t discover

has united classic movie buffs, film students and the

his love of biology until enrolling in—what else?—an

surrounding community under the flickering projector lights.

automotive technology program.



Alumni Alex and Nick Pissios run Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, the biggest soundstage outside of Hollywood, and now they’re giving back.









Distinguished Alumnus Award winner Thomas White returned to Northeastern to deliver an important Commencement message to graduates.

A message from the MAGAZINE STAFF Editorial Board: Mike Dizon, Liesl Downey, Mike Hines, Damaris Tapia Art Director/Designer: J. Matt Byerly, Vita Schweighart Photographer: Joe L. Davis Contributors: Anna Cannova, Mike Hines, Brenda Young In Common is published by the University for graduates, donors and friends. Please send your comments, suggestions and news items by email to or to the NEIU Alumni Association, Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 North St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60625-4699.


Alumni Association Greetings fellow alumni, It took more than two years for the State of Illinois to pass a budget. Let me say that again: Two years. Northeastern Illinois University: (773) 583-4050 Alumni Relations: (773) 442-4205 Development: (773) 442-4210 Public Relations: (773) 442-4240 Transcripts:

UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION Richard J. Helldobler Interim President Wamucii Njogu Acting Provost Michael Pierick Vice President for Finance and Administration Melissa Reardon Henry Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Daniel Lopez Jr. Vice President for Student Affairs Liesl Downey Vice President for Institutional Advancement

BOARD OF TRUSTEES Carlos Azcoitia, Chair of the Board Jonathan Stein, Vice Chair Barbara Fumo, Secretary Trudy Leong, Student Trustee Robert Biggins Sherry Eagle Marvin Garcia Eduardo Garza Jim Palos George Vukotich

NEIU FOUNDATION John F. Roskopf, President Lawrence P. Frank, Vice President Neal Fenwick, Treasurer Mark Van Ausdal, Corporate Secretary Kenn Ashley Rodrigo Garcia Sharon K. Hahs Jacqueline Krump Marcellus H. Moore Jr. J. Todd Phillips William Pollakov Salme Harju Steinberg Dirk Tussing Liesl Downey, Executive Director


As legislators in Springfield fought, the state’s public universities were forced to take drastic measures to make ends meet—and Northeastern Illinois University was not immune to the economic realities. You likely saw news about your alma mater being forced to make layoffs, furlough employees and even close for a few days to save every penny it could to protect its students. Every cut did a disservice to our university, to the degrees we worked so hard to earn, and to the students with the same academic dreams we had when we filled Northeastern’s classrooms. What happened is unconscionable. I joined Interim President Richard Helldobler, members of the Board of Trustees and other Northeastern leaders as we advocated for adequate, sustainable funding, and we achieved success. The good news is we now have a budget. The bad news is the budget includes a severe cut to higher education. Let’s not kid ourselves here: This is not over. Each year forward, we must argue and fight for adequate, stable funding for our beloved university and we need you, a living alumni base nearly 80,000 strong, to join us. How can you advocate for Northeastern? The Office of Alumni Relations has made it easy by creating a website to walk you through all you can do for your University. Visit to read the latest news, be reminded of the value of Northeastern and learn how to contact your elected officials.

We must argue and fight for adequate, stable funding for our beloved university. As Northeastern Illinois University prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary, we must do everything we can to remind the powers that be that Northeastern is an indispensible asset to the city of Chicago, the State of Illinois and beyond. I look forward to seeing you at NEIU Weekend ( and celebrating all 150 years of Northeastern on September 15 and 16. Best to you always,

Chuck Good Alumni Association Advisory Board President


news & notes about your university community

More on accreditation Do you want to know more about what AACSB accreditation means for students, parents and potential employers?

Visit for all of the details.

BIG Business College of Business and Management earns prestigious AACSB accreditation Years of painstaking work culminated in August 2016 when Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Business and Management earned initial accreditation by AACSB International— The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. AACSB accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business education, and has been earned by less than 5 percent of the world’s business programs. Today, there are more than 785 business schools in 53 countries and territories that maintain AACSB accreditation. Similarly, 186 institutions maintain an additional specialized AACSB accreditation for their accounting programs. “It takes a great deal of commitment and determination to earn AACSB accreditation,” said Robert D. Reid, executive vice president

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and chief accreditation officer of AACSB International. “Business schools must not only meet specific standards of excellence, but their deans, faculty and professional staff must make a commitment to ongoing continuous improvement to ensure that the institution will continue to deliver the highest quality of education to students.” With AACSB accreditation, Northeastern’s College of Business and Management joined an exclusive club of Chicago-area business schools that includes the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. “This prestigious AACSB accreditation places our College of Business and Management among the world’s elite,” Interim President Richard Helldobler said. “I commend College of Business and Management Dean Michael Bedell, the college’s faculty and staff, and the students for their efforts in achieving AACSB accreditation.”

By Mike Hines Northeastern’s College of Business and Management offers Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Accounting degrees. Undergraduate students may pursue the Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Accounting, Finance, General Business Administration, and Management and Marketing. The college also offers undergraduate minors in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing and International Business for those who wish to supplement or expand coursework in other disciplines. The College of Business and Management emphasizes learning through a variety of teaching methods, research and service. “We have always taken pride in the value of a degree from the College of Business and Management, and this accreditation further enhances that value for our diverse community of current students, future students and alumni in an increasingly global business environment,” Bedell said. “This accreditation is a testament to their leadership and constant pursuit of excellence.”




news & notes about your university community

Education meets innovation When Sandra Beyda-Lorie was appointed dean of Northeastern Illinois University’s Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education in January 2017, one of the first things she did was look outside of the college. Beyda-Lorie’s goal: innovation through collaboration. “New information and cutting-edge strategies are constantly being revealed in the field of education and beyond,” she said. “We will be a part of these conversations.” Beyda-Lorie points to Northeastern’s partnership with Amundsen High School in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago as a prime example of success. Since 2012, members of the Goodwin College faculty have worked closely with the school to vastly improve test scores, dropout rates and attendance. In return, Amundsen has provided opportunities for Northeastern faculty members to get hands-on interaction in an urban high school and preferred placement for student teachers. “In this fast-changing landscape, it is more important than ever to foster formal and informal partnerships that will ensure the Goodwin College remains current and creative,” Beyda-Lorie said. “Without a doubt, over time our collaborative efforts will cause

us to re-examine, expand and transform our knowledge, our curriculum, our practice and our assumptions.” Earlier this year, the Goodwin College launched the Goodwin Field Experience Advisory Board made up of 30 education professionals from throughout the Chicago area who share ideas for improving teacher preparation. Naturally, innovation also will occur organically within the Goodwin College of Education. “Northeastern is known for its diversity among students, faculty and staff,” Beyda-Lorie said. “This collage of ideas and perspectives gives the Goodwin College a noted advantage as we plot our course forward.” Before her appointment as dean, BeydaLorie served as interim dean of the Goodwin College since July 2016, and was chair of the Department of Special Education for the preceding eight years. “It is a great honor to serve as dean of the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education,” Beyda-Lorie said. “Northeastern Illinois University has a 150-year history of training some of Chicago’s best-prepared teachers and leaders, and I am focused on ensuring our continued commitment to our students and the communities they go on to serve.”

Northeastern Illinois University ranked at or near the top of a number of reports over the past year. Here are three rankings to remember.



MOST DIVERSE: The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings rated Northeastern as the most diverse university in the Midwest. Nationally, Northeastern ranked 22nd. LOWEST STUDENT DEBT: In its annual publication of “Best Colleges,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Northeastern first for students who graduate with the least amount of debt among Midwest regional universities. SAFEST: YourLocalSecurity, the security analysis division of ADT Security Services, used data and statistics from the FBI and U.S. Department of Education to determine that Northeastern is the safest university in Illinois.



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“This university is really remarkable. If you want value and you want something that works, this university is doing a great job.” —Political pundit and strategist James Carville, during the inaugural Daniel L. Goodwin Distinguished Lecture Series on Feb. 2. Carville made the lecture appearance with fellow pundit and strategist Mary Matalin (pictured together below).

A golden award for

El Centro Northeastern Illinois University’s El Centro building in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago has a new award to add to the mantle: LEED Gold certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the premier green building rating system program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. “Northeastern Illinois University is proud that El Centro will represent the latest and most high-profile example of our commitment to environmental stewardship,” Interim President Richard Helldobler said. “We celebrate this honor with our students, employees and communities we serve, as well as the partners who helped us along the way.” The building was designed by Juan Moreno’s Chicago-based architecture firm, JGMA. “Sustainability represents a heightened environmental awareness in the building design,” Moreno said. “However, it is the project’s ability to inspire youths to attend an institution of higher education that creates an undeniable cultural sustainability.” El Centro achieved LEED Gold certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Situated along the Kennedy Expressway, El Centro opened on Sept. 30, 2014. With the capacity to serve 2,500 students, the building has enabled Northeastern to significantly expand its academic and community programming.

$450,000 The NEIU Foundation surpassed that total endowment level for Kane scholarships following the 45th Annual Chuck Kane Scholarship Golf Event on August 7. In total, the endowment creates $8,000 worth of annual scholarship support to students from across Northeastern. Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Haugh and Eli’s Cheesecake Purchasing and Materials manager Elias Kasongo, a refugee from Congo and alumnus of Northeastern, were featured speakers at the event.

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Northeastern is celebrating a milestone anniversary,

and everyone’s invited

By Richard C. Lindberg

Looking back. Looking forward



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University: rn Illinois Northeaste 150 Years The First C. Lindberg

First ersity: The Illinois Univ Northeastern



Northeastern Illinois University has come a long way from its modest beginnings in the little schoolhouse out on the prairie 150 years ago.

By Richard

150 Years

ng award-winni rg is an C. Lindbe written and who has o history, ournalist about Chicag ity. venteen bookssports, and ethnic , up growing minal justice memoir of Whiskey personal old titled can o househ c Chicag , My Ameri by sh Family of the Year My Swedi Book iction amed Non-F Association. political o Writer’s Chicago of e Clark rlier volum er King of of led The Gambl ald and the Rise cate won a Certifi chael C. McDon Machine ical Democratic Illinois State Histor Illinois the Southern ence from ly recent ack n 2010. Most ished in paperb republ red Sense ty Press volume Shatte Three rs of 7 true crime 1955 Murde forty-year quest cence: The the , covering sible for s respon o Children In the partie g to justice Northwest Side boys. hed rder of three an & Littlefield publis y of histor r 2015, Rowm look at the t upon probing impac his their dcover and o: Chicago and Chicag gangs in titled Gangl the Windy City. in eighborhoods Lawlessness ed as a inality and has appear and radio years he television Over the ing ous includ on numer al origin mentator and nation rams of local Channel, InvestigationPublic al y el, Nation E, the Histor Travel Chann column, “Our Past,” covery, the . His , and others . ine (NPR) dio Magaz of the Chicagoly president pears in Illinois rg is a past Mr. Lindbe d Authors and the of a member ciety of Midlan ology and is Alumni Crimin University history cademy of n Illinois BA in e Northeaster . He earned his y ’s in histor dvisory Board1974 and a master in rom NEIU tion in 1987. for the same institu graduate thesis s, rom the t of Politic rg’s 1987 “The Impac Mr. Lindbe o Police tment, titled History Depar Vice Upon the Chicag published and later ing was Gambl : Chicago 1855-1920,” Department: as To Serve and Collectthe Lager tion from 960 in book form Corrup 1855-1 al, Police erdale Scand It was the Politics and Press. to the Summ cle Beer Riot s University chroni Illinoi to rn by Southe e of its kind ndred years. hed volum in one-hu first publis Police history working-class Chicago other tion, Like so many i of his genera to attend n alumn his family Northeaster was the first in ues rg He contin a degree. Mr. Lindbe ,a complete wife Denise for college and o with his speechwriter in Chicag and is a o to reside graduate, of the Chicag 1973 NEIU M. Burke d Edwar Alderman il. City Counc

Lindberg Richard C.

C. Richard alumnus ating ian, and and fascin Author, histor from the rich University chronicles n Illinois Lindberg y Northeaster Cook Count history of ings as the in 1867 t beginn , Illinois, r’s its modes in Blue Island Chicago Teache as Normal School ive years community. its format Englewood through Side “Space Age” the South d-thinking Cold College in g of a forwar the height of the The buildin s into campus during on of the campu ng North Side and the evoluti of higher learni War in 1961 is institution n al easter cultur the multimodern North ive, firstthat is the of this definit coverage of of today th in Part Two recounted e with in-dep ical volum ever histor 150 years. the sity’s first o history the univer of Chicag of the lens foundations Through nes the early and the struggle exami ion author ms in public educat g progra universal the r trainin sh teache ng up along to establi ent growi id to break r settlem an. Unafra the frontie tions that of Lake Michig entury conven shoreline prior, nineteenth-c ion for decades with rigid the teacher educat predecessors led its had driven l school and of new and the norma tened era cing an enligh ophy embra way toward ional philos Under the educat progressive innovation. of tion and Parker, one experimenta l school is Wayland norma of Franc the on directi educators, d foremost ng that rejecte America’s of teachi onal rote a theory d traditi of adapte ine and the facts in favor harsh discipl of concepts and “Science ction. The memorization of instru his l methods Parker and less forma ioned by d the tion” champ revolutionize of Educa successors normal school The First field. University: education n Illinois setbacks Northeaster the hardships and depression traces in war and 150 Years of ing college the meddl by r and the endured ial affairs ic despai when econom academic and financ permanent into with politicians and faculty h over students of triump ce threatened story is one days of its existen h closure. The earliest ,” throug from the on the prairie the adversity school out years when “as the little boom , to the of the baby ipped supply the crisis rs outstr t and the for teache m and protes demand d student activiseastern as it evolve decade of face of North r-training college changing Side teache est ive exclus and Northw d from an ates of North y define serving graduschools into a broadl on and high rich in traditi and Chicago ity university its every ethnic liberal arts citizens of ce and fulfill to embra welcoming in background the City and Lead economic in n: “Learn core missio ” the World.


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Meet the author Richard C. Lindberg is an alumnus (B.A. 1974; M.A. 1987) and member of the NEIU Alumni Association Board. He will sign copies of his book, “Northeastern Illinois University: The First 150 Years,” during NEIU Weekend on September 15 and 16. The book will also be available for purchase in the Alumni Center and via online retailers.

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In its earliest incarnation, Northeastern served the residents of Cook County as a normal school, conceived as a teacher’s training college and tasked with supplying Chicago’s public schools and the outlying villages with qualified elementary school teachers. Inside eight rented classrooms of the Whittier School on Vermont Avenue in Blue Island (a remote pastoral setting 16 miles south of Chicago), 62 hopeful students gathered together on the first day of class, September 2, 1867, to commence a rigorous course of study. The county guaranteed them free tuition in return for a pledge to sign an agreement to enter the teaching profession upon completion of their program. Sprung from the theoretical concepts of Horace Mann, the progressive New England politician and educator who believed education should be universal and available to all, the remarkable evolution of our alma mater from Normal School to a university crossing international borders unfolds in the sesquicentennial volume I have authored, “Northeastern Illinois University: The First 150 Years.” This special commemorative edition will be published in September, when Northeastern will launch a year-round celebration of this milestone anniversary beginning with NEIU Weekend on September 15 and 16. The festivities will continue throughout the academic year with special programming and celebratory events. The history of Northeastern is one of excellence, innovation and adversity overcome. Such a story can hardly be told over a few pages of In Common magazine, but I certainly can give you a taste of what is in the book.



Becoming El Centro In 1973, 350 of Northeastern

for Educational Services)—El Centro for short—a community-based academic program for college credit in a satellite location in the West Town community. It served as a means of encouraging Hispanic high school graduates (or those holding a GED equivalent) to test the waters of a college education.

Illinois University’s 8,000 enrolled students were of Hispanic or Latino descent, yet there was a palpable sense among many students enough was being done to serve this emerging segment of the University’s population. Maximino Torres, a member of the faculty, emphatically stated that year that academic departments needed to “avail themselves of the Latin student.”

Northeastern’s long-range mission to become a multi-ethnic, multi-national institution took root in those pivotal “activist” years of the mid to late 1970s. El Centro expanded its resources and moved to a new location in the Little Village neighborhood in 1991. Three major construction projects adding additional space were carried out between 1996 and 2004. By the fall of 2009, El Centro enrolled more than 1,000 students.

“They can add more sections to the present courses at the introductory level, and those courses with no introductory courses should begin moving in this direction,” Torres said. “Most of the Latin American students here are products of the Chicago Public School system. Their difficulties are not always ones of language, but of inadequate preparation and indifferent educational techniques.”

El Centro marked its 40th anniversary of service to the Northeastern community during the 2009-10 academic year, adding computer labs, classrooms and a resource center for the community as part of a major millennial renovation.

By that time, the movement had quietly begun in a Humboldt Park storefront. Aqui Estoy (meaning “Here I Am”) opened in March 1969 under the direction of Rosa Hernandez and with the help of the Union for Puerto Rican Students (UPRS) to serve as a field center with a focus on teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to Puerto Rican students.

In 2014, El Centro added new undergraduate classes leading to bachelor’s degrees in Justice Studies, Special Education, Social Work and Computer Science—all attainable completely at El Centro.

The center aided residents in the attainment of a GED, provided ESL programs for adults and taught basic business skills in order to encourage community interaction. After funding support ran out in 1972, the program went dormant for nearly a year until late in 1973. Aqui Estoy changed its name to become the Comunidad Latino Adelantando Sus Estudios Secundarios (CLASES) to promote academic and community development in Hispanic areas of the city. However, because of long-standing differences between the director and UPRS, CLASES never became operational.

A bright new era in El Centro’s history dawned that same year, when the new Juan Moreno-designed building opened in Avondale with a celebration attended by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, State Sen. Iris Martinez and Alderman Rey Colón. The beautiful new building facing the Kennedy Expressway underscores the important and enduring mission of El Centro—to provide educational opportunity for Chicago’s diverse mix of cultures, coming together in an academic setting that serves as an affirming educational bridge to the promise of the future. -R.C.L.

In 1975, Northeastern established the El Centro de Recursos Educativos (Center NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY I magazine



Northeastern appointed Jose A. Acevedo to direct and organize curriculum to provide a well-rounded, albeit introductory, learning experience intended for a maximum enrollment of 40 Latino students who had been recommended by various social service agencies and community centers. Enrollment was strictly word of mouth.

and faculty members that not




he Cook County Normal School, conceived in a politically charged climate of intrigue and stern opposition to the ideals of innovation and progressive education set forth and championed by its second principal, Francis Wayland Parker, broke loose from the shackles of pedagogical tradition. In early 19th century America, students of all ages were thrown together in overcrowded classroom settings and taught their “Three R’s” through rote memorization and oral recital, minus a fundamental understanding or appreciation for the meaning of the printed words read aloud. Conceptual thinking and free expression were seen as heretical notions until Horace Mann and his disciple, Francis Parker, shifted the focus of pedagogy. Francis Parker directed the Normal School from 1883 until 1899—16 remarkable and trendsetting years. It was also a time of fiscal struggle. Threatened with extinction in 1896 after the Cook County Board teetered on the precipice of insolvency, the Chicago Board of Education pulled the county’s chestnuts out of the fire by acquiring the college (situated at 68th Street and Stewart Avenue in Englewood beginning in September 1870), and changing its name to the Chicago Normal School. Distinguished educators including Ella Flagg Young, the Normal School’s most famous

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D. G. F.


A. The library (now home to the Office of Enrollment Services). B. President Ronald Williams (right) and Distinguished Alumnus Daniel L. Goodwin. C. Construction of the Jerome M. Sachs Administrative Building. D. Barack Obama (right) and Northeastern employee Wilma Sutton. E. Ribbon-cutting for the College of Business and Management. F. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the grand opening of the current El Centro building. G. Construction of The Nest residence hall.

alumnus and a popular and gifted administrator, led the institution from 1905 to 1909. In 1900, Young earned a Ph.D. at age 55 under the mentorship of John Dewey. In an age when policymakers were mostly white males of Anglo-Saxon descent, Ella Flagg Young illuminated the pathway for a generation of young women previously barred from advancing into the higher ranks of school administration because of institutional “glass ceiling” opposition. In July 1909, the Board of Education moved quickly to appoint Young to head the Chicago Board of Education, marking the first time a woman occupied the post of Superintendent of Education in Chicago, or for that matter in any other U.S. metropolis. The Depression years and the economic calamity befalling the nation hit the Englewood campus hard. A proposal to close the Normal School went before a full session of the School Board on December 9, 1931. Through the darkest, most discouraging months of 1931 and 1932, the doors of the Normal School remained open and campus activities continued. The college weathered the crisis, although fewer teachers found employment in city schools, and those that did were paid in nearly worthless scrip owing to the hard times everyone in that generation faced. May 25, 1938, marked another critical turning point in school history. After months of

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deliberation and careful planning, the Board of Education approved a proposal to convert the Chicago Normal School into a four-year college empowered to award Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees. The granting of the three-year certificate was discontinued and the old and venerable school name scrapped. It meant that the Chicago Normal School would become Chicago Teachers College (CTC), inclusive of four buildings (the “Dome,” Parker High School, Parker Elementary and Wilson Junior College), all situated within the sprawling 18-acre Englewood campus. Beginning in 1950, CTC opened the first of several satellite extensions in various North Side schools for the ease and convenience of enrolled students living north of Madison Street. The sharing arrangements with Chicago Public Schools continued until just after Labor Day in 1961. On September 6 of that year the new Chicago Teachers College North opened its doors to the first 1,764 students at Bryn Mawr and St. Louis avenues in what was then known as the Hollywood Park neighborhood of Chicago. The media nicknamed it the “Space Age College” because of its technology and progressive curriculum. It was at this critical juncture that two separate and distinct colleges, each forming their own unique social and cultural identity, emerged—the future

Northeastern Illinois University and Chicago State University. One pointed north and the other south. The original names of the sister colleges changed and evolved over time from CTC North and CTC South, but the spirit and fundamental mission to educate and prepare mostly urban, working-class commuter students for their future roles in society remains even as the normal school movement vanished in America. Nearly all of the original, publicly funded normal schools in the United States conceived as teacher training colleges in the 19th century had already made the transition to full university status by the mid-1970s. The legacy of Francis Parker and Ella Flagg Young would live on as Northeastern built upon their groundbreaking theories of educational innovation by launching early experimental programs including University Without Walls and the Program for Interdisciplinary Education. Northeastern established field centers in Uptown and West Town, with two additional Chicago locations that flourish today—El Centro in the Avondale neighborhood and the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in the Bronzeville neighborhood. (Read more about the history behind these locations on Pages 8 and 10.)




his sesquicentennial volume celebrates the divergent history of Northeastern and its predecessor from the standpoint of curriculum development and academic disciplines; campus planning; faculty and administrative profiles; memorable moments; political imbroglios with city and state governments; student protests (and yes, there were more than a few of these over the years); athletics; the reflections of former students in their own words; a lavish appendix that includes a timeline from 1866 through 2017; plus a listing of notable and distinguished alumni. Photographs and illustrations help bring the story to life throughout the volume. I am sure you will enjoy reading the commemorative history edition five years in the making, from conception to publication. I hope you will plan to join us during NEIU Weekend and throughout the academic year as we celebrate Northeatern’s rich and resonant past with activities and special events to unite alumni with the diverse and dynamic institution it is today.

Northeastern Through the Years Cook County Normal School (1867-1896)

Chicago Teachers College North (1960-1965)

Daniel Sanborn Wentworth, Principal, 1867-1882

William C. Dodge, Acting Principal, 1882-1883

Francis Wayland Parker, Principal, 1883-1899

Chicago Normal School (1896-1938)

William Griffin, Acting Principal, 1899

Arnold Tompkins, Principal, 1900-1905

Ella Flagg Young, Principal, 1905-1909

William Bishop Owen, Principal/President, 1909-1928

Hazel Stillman, Acting President, 1928

Butler Laughlin, President, 1928-1936

Chicago Teachers College (1938-1965)

Verne O. Graham, President, 1936-1938

John A. Bartky, President, 1938-1942

John I. Swearingen, Acting President, 1942-1948

Raymond Mack Cook, Dean, 1948-1960

(Dean of Chicago Teachers College South 1961-1965)

Roy Newell Jervis, Dean, 1960-1962

Northeastern Illinois State College (1966-1971)

Jerome M. Sachs, Dean, 1962-1971

Northeastern Illinois University (1971-present)

Jerome M. Sachs, President, 1971-1973

James Mullen, President, 1973-1976

William Lienemann, Acting President, 1976

Ronald Williams, President, 1976-1985

Gordon H. Lamb, President, 1986-1995

Salme Harju Steinberg, President, 1995-2007

Sharon K. Hahs, President, 2007-2016

Richard J. Helldobler, Interim President, 2016-present

Becoming the Carruthers Center Tucked away in the Oakland community of Bronzeville stands the historically prominent Abraham Lincoln Center, an inspired, original 1905 design conceived by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is here where people of all races, nationalities and religious faiths converged to share knowledge and common experience. In the first half of the 20th century, prominent speakers including sociologist, civil rights activist and author W.E.B. Du Bois addressed the important issues of the day. Today, the former Abraham Lincoln Center is Northeastern Illinois University’s Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies (CCICS), serving an urban/inner-city student population for the past 51 years. It is an institution that is recognized worldwide. Donald H. Smith, an assistant professor of Speech and Anthropology at Northeastern, helped found the Center for Inner City Studies (CICS) in 1966 through federal funding received from the Office of Education during its first two years of existence. Anderson Thompson and Jacob H. Carruthers designed the curriculum to be taught from an African-American perspective. Fulfilling its urban mission to meet the educational needs of inner-city residents in an interdisciplinary 10


setting, CICS focused on the social sciences and humanities. The earliest CICS program, the Experienced Teacher Fellowship Program, retrained inner-city teachers in Chicago and across the United States by providing them with the necessary cultural and educational tools to help them fully understand and better serve the communities and schools in which they were assigned to work. In 1968, Northeastern’s College of Education established the Department of Inner City Studies Education, offering two master’s degree programs in Inner City Studies Education and an M.Ed in Inner City Studies. Since then, more than 1,700 students have earned master’s degrees in the field of Inner City Studies. Federal funding bolstered the CICS undergraduate curriculum during the 1970-71 school year with the Career Opportunities Program that certified more than 400 inner-city teacher aides. CICS grew and prospered through the leadership of outstanding faculty and administration including Smith, Carruthers, Thompson, Nancy Arnaz, Donn Bailey, Conrad Worrill, Edward Barnes and Sonja Stone, who chaired the first Department of Inner City Studies Education. President Emerita Salme H. Steinberg appointed Carruthers as the director of CICS to succeed Bailey. Carruthers was the founding director of

the Kemetic Institute, the Temple of the African Community of Chicago, and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. The esteemed South Side educator was one of three African-American students to integrate the University of Texas Law School in 1950 and the first black student to earn a doctorate from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He joined the faculty of the Department of Inner City Studies Education in 1968. Carruthers taught history and education until his passing in January 2004, at which time Northeastern honored his memory by renaming the center the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies. Each year since 2006, the Kemetic Institute and CCICS have sponsored an annual conference hosted in his name. “The naming of the Center for Inner City Studies after Jacob H. Carruthers means the continuation of a legacy and the Kemetic concept of divine speech, or good speech,” said Worrill, who succeeded Carruthers and served 12 of his 40 years at CCICS as director. “If you do good speech or good deeds, your name should be placed in eternity.” On September 15, 2016, CCICS marked its 50th anniversary of service to Chicago communities and students with a lecture given by Greg Kimathi Carr, chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University. -R.C.L.

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A Call to Action Northeastern launches $10 million Transforming Lives fundraising campaign What can $10 million do for Northeastern Illinois University? We’re about to find out. The University publicly launched the first fundraising campaign in its 150-year history on April 7 with a kickoff event attended by presidents past and present, trustees, students, distinguished alumni, faculty, staff, NEIU Foundation Board members and close friends of Northeastern.

for colleges, departments and programs that are necessary for the future. During the kickoff event, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Liesl Downey unveiled the campaign’s official website and a video that was narrated by retired WGN-TV news anchor and alumnus Robert Jordan (M.A. ’94 Speech).

“Now, on the eve of our 150th anniversary, we are here to celebrate the light and education that Northeastern Illinois University provides,” Interim President Richard Helldobler said.

“There’s not one person in this room who doesn’t believe in the power of this university to change people—to transform lives for the better,” said Downey, who also serves as Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation. “You represent thousands of Northeastern’s biggest fans and supporters.”

Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Northeastern Illinois University centers around two initiatives: Extraordinary Scholarship Support and Exceptional Learning Environments. Through this effort, Northeastern will build strong resources for scholarships and

While the campaign kickoff was focused on the University’s bright future, NEIU Foundation Board President John Roskopf reflected on past successes, highlighting the fact that the Foundation has doubled its charitable support to Northeastern since 2014, boosted the

number of endowed scholarships from 103 to 136 and increased the average scholarship from $990 to $1,065. Much of that success can be attributed to the Goodwin Gift Challenge, in which alumnus and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees Daniel Goodwin pledged an unprecedented $2.5 million. Goodwin serves as one of three honorary co-chairs for the campaign, along with Presidents Emerita Salme Harju Steinberg and Sharon Hahs. While the campaign was publicly launched on April 7, its roots trace back to 2014, when Hahs recognized the University’s 150-year anniversary as an ideal time to launch such an endeavor. As is typical for university campaigns, the NEIU Foundation quietly raised $6 million toward the campaign before the public kickoff. The goal now is to reach $10 million by the end of 2018.

How to participate Education is the light that illuminates opportunity—and you can help it shine brighter. Visit our site to view stories of lives transformed and commit to transforming lives at Northeastern now and for the next 150 years.

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The Surprise Biologist Former high school dropout Anthony Smith has found his calling in the laboratory Anthony Smith likes to think of an organism like a finely tuned car. An automobile’s power-train control module—or main computer—acts as the brain to a central nervous system, interpreting signals and sending out responses. “In a car, there are sensors that determine the temperature of the engine, just like your skin senses temperature,” Smith said. “That information is then interpreted by the brain, which later sends output signals to elicit a response, like whether to withdraw from the temperature source.”

That’s not exactly the career goal you might expect from a man who earned his Associate


Born and raised in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago that has long been plagued by drugs, gangs and gun violence, Smith dropped out of high school his junior year. Smith wasn’t flunking out of his classes—he just didn’t care. “There was little to no support system for seeking higher education,” he said. “College was never an aspiration of mine, and neither my mom nor dad graduated from college.”

Smith could easily expand on the similarities between car computers and brains, but neither is his particular area of interest these days. Rather, Smith is focused on the use of nanomedicine to detect and treat the deadliest cancers at the cellular level.


of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology just six years ago. Then again, Smith is not your average Biology major.

A couple of years after dropping out, Smith completed a program to earn his high school diploma. He bounced around jobs at car dealerships and carwashes before enrolling in Kennedy-King College’s automotive program. Believe it or not, that is where Smith discovered his love of biology. When it came time to choose his elective courses, Smith selected an entry-

By Mike Hines

level biology class that captured his attention in a way nothing else ever had. “I surprised myself how much I liked biology,” said Smith, who was encouraged by his professor, Charlie Shaw, to enroll in the Biological Sciences program after finishing at the top of his class. “I just never had the luxury of being introduced to anything in that field. The complexity of it all sparked my interest.” Smith finished his Automotive Technology degree, then followed his newfound intellectual curiosity to Northeastern Illinois University. “It got more complicated as I got into the higher levels,” Smith said. “It was challenging to learn new concepts.” It was challenging, but certainly not impossible. “Since Anthony has been at Northeastern, he has continued to challenge himself academically and scientifically,” Assistant Professor of Biology Cindy Voisine said.

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“In the classroom, I have noted Anthony’s inquisitiveness and curiosity regarding biological processes, asking questions to connect cellular components into a pathway.” Smith has worked with Voisine on research of C. elegans, a 1-mm-long worm found in the soil and on fruits and vegetables. In collaboration with Northwestern University, Voisine has used the worms to sniff out the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis. In Voisine’s lab, Smith is working on developing methodology using image analysis and computer algorithms to increase the efficiency of measuring the worms’ response to chemicals that the bacteria secrete. The goal is to develop a diagnostic device for detection of tuberculosis bacterium in patients. Smith earned an internship with the United States Department of Agriculture after his first year at Northeastern and later earned a McNair Scholar award for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong academic potential. Last year Smith was accepted into a Summer Research Opportunity Program at Michigan State University, where he performed research on synthesizing a nanoparticle that can detect breast cancer. In the fall, Smith was accepted

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as a pre-scholar in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers program before earning a full scholar position the next semester.

course. You don’t have to go to college and enroll in a particular program. Try to find which courses inspire you the most.”

“I have confidence in Anthony’s ability to impact biomedical research,” Voisine said. “Not only is he capable of making significant scientific contributions, but he can also be a role model for others in STEM fields. Because of his nontraditional path to his degree, Anthony will be able to reach out to students that identify with his personal story, creating a scientific community rich in perspective and experience.”

While his accomplishments in the classroom are an inspiration, Smith is more proud of his status of role model to his science-loving 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.

Smith is on track to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in the spring of 2018, but that will be far from the end of his studies. “My ultimate career goal is to earn a Ph.D.,” Smith said. “Once I obtain that, the type of research I can conduct is limitless.” Smith hopes his story can serve as an inspiration to others who may feel uncertain about their futures. His advice: “Don’t be a product of your environment. Instead, allow your environment to produce a better you. Find your way. Explore different areas. Take a general

At home, Smith and his daughter scour YouTube videos to find ideas for at-home science experiments. During a recent end-of-year school event, Smith’s daughter—who is way beyond the baking soda volcano experiment, by the way—was recognized in front of her peers with several academic awards. “It makes me feel proud,” said Smith, who will marry his girlfriend of 17 years later this year. “I was hollering and screaming every time they called her name.” Some of Smith’s friends and family call him a genius when they hear about his research experiences, but he shrugs off the compliment. “There is nothing special about me. I’m just hard-working,” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of effort into earning what I’ve earned.”



Alex Pissios (seated) and Nick Pissios

Lights, Camera,

Scholarships By Mike Hines

For Pissios brothers, with great success comes great opportunity to give back



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ix years after Cinespace Chicago Film Studios was founded in an abandoned steel plant on the Southwest Side of Chicago, the company has become the largest soundstage operation outside of Hollywood. The studios have served as the home base for dozens of films and TV shows, generated an estimated $3 billion in film-related spending and been responsible for the creation of more than 7,500 jobs in the Chicago area. Cinespace Chicago Film Studios President and Northeastern Illinois University alumnus Alex Pissios (B.A. ’94 English) has presided over the meteoric rise of the company, but he doesn’t take all of the credit. Pissios saves much of that for his beloved late uncle. It was Nick Mirkopoulos who in 2007 encouraged his nephew, then a fledgling real estate developer who was all but ruined by the economic crash, to think about expanding his Toronto-based film business to Chicago. Four years later, Alex took the helm as his brother and fellow Northeastern alumnus, Nick Pissios (B.S. ’02 Management), served as the director of operations. “We started with thinking about 100,000 square feet, and now here we are with a million and a half square feet and close to 70 acres,” Alex said. The first high-profile show to film at Cinespace was the Chicago-based drama “Boss,” starring Kelsey Grammer. Producers rented the entire 30,000-square-foot fifth floor of Cinespace’s center building. From there, the growth has been exponential, with Cinespace serving as home base for TV series by super-producer Dick Wolf such as “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire.” Cinespace has also been the soundstage of choice for movies such as “Divergent” and two of the films in the “Transformers” franchise.

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“Every day is different. Every day is a challenge,” Nick Pissios said. “Film industry tenants are very demanding, but it’s a marathon. You keep them happy; they keep coming and making shows.” Each TV and movie production requires skilled workers for lights, cameras, casting and catering, among other needs, all jobs filled by Chicago-area residents. The film industry was responsible for almost $500 million in spending in Illinois in 2016, according to the Illinois Film Office, representing a 51 percent increase over the year before. During that period of growth, Cinespace has been one of the state’s economic leaders in the industry, Film Office Director Christine Dudley said.

“The best part of Northeastern is that it is a melting pot,” Nick said. “Going to school, there were all kinds of different people, all kinds of different races. That has come to help me succeed here and us as a family. In this business, you’re dealing with so many different people, so many different ethnicities, so many different cultures. Northeastern was that, and we’re living it every day.” When Cinespace expanded into Chicago, the family chose an abandoned steel plant in the economically depressed neighborhood of North Lawndale. “It’s an area that really needed an injection of growth,” Alex said.

“The film industry is as important as the tech industry in terms of an industry that has growth potential, innovation, job creation and graduate retention,” she said. “Most of these jobs are bluecollar jobs. They’re terrific, good-paying jobs.”

Mission accomplished on that front, according to Alderman Jason Ervin, whose ward includes the Cinespace property. “They’ve put that industrial space back to great use,” Ervin said. “It has generated additional opportunities for residents and the neighborhood.”

Job creation and preparedness is a recurring theme for the Pissios brothers.

That’s exactly what Mirkopoulos would have wanted to hear.

“You hear about what’s going on in certain areas of Chicago, the violence, but I’m a firm believer that if you give an opportunity, a job is what changes the next generation,” Alex said. “When you walk around and see all these people working, that’s really the best feeling.”

“We’re most proud of the way we’ve embraced the community like a family,” Alex said. “Those were marching orders from my Uncle Nick. He said you can’t come into a neighborhood and start expanding without bringing in the neighbors and bringing in the families, and that’s what we’ve done.”

While it might be easy to get lost in the bright lights, big budgets and Hollywood names, the Pissios brothers prefer to measure their success by the lives they touch. It’s a lesson in priorities they learned from their uncle, who died in 2013. “Nick really taught us about ethics and being a good person and helping people,” Alex said. In return for those valuable lessons, the Pissios family has honored Mirkopoulos with the creation of the CineCares Foundation, which provides outreach to people in underserved communities who need help paying to go to college. More recently, the brothers endowed a new scholarship through the NEIU Foundation. The Nick Mirkopoulos Scholarship is intended for African-American mothers, and it’s a point of pride for the brothers to give others the opportunity for the kind of success they achieved after earning their degrees from Northeastern. “A lot of times you hear about somebody who graduated from Northwestern or Harvard and they’re doing these big developments and they’re so successful,” Alex said. “Well, a couple of Northeastern kids generated $3 billion for the state and 7,500 jobs. That’s important to me. It makes us proud, and we’re proud that we went to Northeastern.” Both brothers emphasized the value of graduating from the most diverse university in the Midwest.

As the company continues to grow, the Pissios brothers continue to think big. Cinespace has rented space to Lagunitas Brewing Company, which gave 400,000 tours in 2016. DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts and independent production incubator Stage 18 also are tenants. Dudley likens the development in North Lawndale to the effect Oprah Winfrey had decades ago on another Chicago neighborhood when she moved her studio into the West Loop. “The growth that I’ve seen in the last two years—particularly in their commitment to education and the opportunity that they have with DePaul University and watching the development of the incubator, Stage 18—that is tremendous,” Dudley said. What’s next? There are plans to fence off part of the Cinespace property to create a back lot that turns the streets into miniature versions of Chinatown, New York City and London. Yet even that ambitious plan is not enough for the Pissios brothers, who admit they rarely take time to reflect on their success. “We’re at year five, but this is where we thought we’d be at year 10. So we’re about five years ahead of schedule,” Alex said. “I’m still looking forward to what’s the next thing we’re going to do.”









A World of Opportunities From political conventions to the Mexico border, recent grad Anna Augustyn is going places



By Brenda Young

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hether she’s studying political science, interning for a state senator, attending the Democratic National Convention or traveling abroad, Anna Augustyn immerses herself in politics any way she can. With that kind of motivation, perhaps it’s no surprise that Augustyn earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Global Studies from Northeastern Illinois University in May after only three years. But not before leading a half-dozen student organizations and completing the rigorous academic challenges of the University Honors Program. “I think my eagerness comes from the enjoyment I get from helping students out,” she said. “I think it is vital to be actively involved on campus to not only be a part of something bigger, but to also form friendships that will last a lifetime.” Augustyn traces her interest in politics back to her days at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin. She was selected to be on a

With such an impressive academic and extracurricular record, Augustyn was one of only six incoming freshmen awarded Northeastern’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship in 2014. (After arriving at Northeastern, Augustyn added Global Studies as a second major.) Presidential Scholars receive full in-state tuition, fees and an allowance for their books. They are required to participate in the University Honors Program and encouraged to take advantage of study abroad opportunities and volunteer in one of the University’s many student organizations. “Northeastern has provided me with an abundance of opportunities to expand my textbook education by applying what I have learned in the classroom to real-world situations,” she said. “Personally, I would not have been able to experience the amazing opportunities I have been able to experience during my time at Northeastern had it not been for the scholarship.” That’s particularly true when it comes to travel. In three years as a Northeastern student,

If that trip sounds amazing, Augustyn was only getting started. “Less than a week after coming back from the DNC, I hopped on a plane to Israel,” she said. Selected to join a special delegation of American students who work in student government, Augustyn described her week touring Israel and the West Bank as “by far the coolest experience” of her life. “I learned a lot about the conflicts between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors from the perspectives of both sides,” she said. Augustyn took advantage of student leadership opportunities and participated in numerous student organizations from the moment she set foot on campus. In 2015, she was selected to go on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Arizona through the Office of Student Leadership Development. And before she graduated, she led an Alternative Spring Break trip to Arizona and Mexico to learn more about immigration along the border.

“Northeastern has provided me with an abundance of opportunities to expand my textbook education by applying what I have learned in the classroom to real-world situations.” ANNA AUGUSTYN

legislative district high school committee for state Rep. Michael Tryon. While on the committee, Augustyn and her classmates created a bill calling for high school students to be able to receive physical education class waivers based on the number of Advanced Placement courses they took. The bill did not make it far after Tryon submitted it, but the experience proved to be a valuable lesson on the process of state politics. “To me, politics means the opportunity for people to come together and really make a change, and we can try and do that through our government,” Augustyn said. “When you become involved even in local politics or go further into state and national politics, you can be the voice for whole groups of people, and I think it’s very important that everyone is able to say what they want to say.” Augustyn’s interest in politics further grew in high school when she took an AP Government class. By the time she was ready for college, Augustyn knew she would major in Political Science.

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Augustyn made academic trips to Ireland, Philadelphia, the Middle East, Arizona and finally, in May 2017, to Switzerland with the help of a $1,200 Brommel-Hahs-Steinberg Scholarship for Global Studies. The study trip was led by the Department of Justice Studies. In July 2016, Augustyn represented Northeastern at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia as a participant in an academic seminar by The Washington Center, an organization that aims to “provide students with transformational experiences that foster academic and professional achievement, leadership and civic engagement.” “My position with the security team gave me the opportunity to take pictures with the European Union ambassador to the United States and other diplomats,” Augustyn said. “I had wonderful conversations with many of the ambassadors I was helping and was able to see the speeches by Hillary Clinton, President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama and more.”

And that’s not all. Augustyn was the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Committee representative for the Student Government Association, president of the Presidential Scholars Student Association, vice president of the Pre-Law Society and vice president of the French Club. “It’s great to see how she has taken on various leadership roles and does so well,” said Veronica Rodriguez, director of the Office of Student Leadership Development. “She is so great at communicating what she has learned and wants others to get involved. It’s great to see her growth as she has had to balance a lot, and she does well.” Augustyn values the work and travel experiences she had as an undergraduate and hopes it all leads to her ultimate goal. “I have had enough exposure in the political arena so far to know that I may want to run for a political office if the time is right,” she said.



Cinema By Anna Cannova



D H OF AN OL CTION BOOT E J O R P E H INTERIOR: T ATER MOVIE THE s, g winter coat both wearin , cold hands an r ei om th w a on m breath A man and ar w r ei th e projector. tly blow of film into th intermitten el re a ad re g to th while workin er venue. AN: e need a bett M W ! on go ’t This can 

finding a OMAN: ? It’s not easy go e w n W ca e s. er e do, but wh lms these day W ow 35mm fi sh n ca at th place jector. ets of the pro ck ro sp e th e movie catches onto g images of th in er k ic fl The film reel t rs fi theater the Down in the . en re e sc appear on th ere we me place wh so be to t go t and air AN: There’s lace with hea p A . M od go r can set up fo conditioning! d mfy seats an l wish for co el w as t ly h al ig re OMAN: M . And if we’re W e you’re at it il will help h at w g th in ce k la ar p h for a p is w s t’ le g, present rare dreaming bi reserve and p … to on si is lace special us in our m ations. Somep er n ge re tu films for fu TY – NIGHT O: OIS UNIVERSI N DISSOLVE T LI IL N R E ST ORTHEA EXTERIOR: N


you visit Northeastern on almost any Wednesday evening, you’ll find a happy group of film buffs settled into the cozy seats of the Auditorium for a rare movie screening. The journey to get them there was anything but comfortable. For more than 40 years, a group known as the Classic Film Series screened 16mm and 35mm rare and classic films in an unusual cinema: the second-floor auditorium of the Bank of America building on Irving Park Road in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood. In spite of its unlikely location, the series built up a loyal audience even during several bank mergers and other transitions. It was the only cinema of its kind on the Northwest Side. When the bank branch finally closed in 2010, three organizers of the cinema group formed the Northwest Chicago Film Society, now known as the Chicago Film Society (CFS), as a nonprofit organization. In 2011, they resumed the screenings at other Chicago theaters, including the Portage Theater and the Gene Siskel Film Center before landing at the ornate but aged Patio Theater, a movie palace nearly a century old that lacked heating and air conditioning and had uncomfortable seats. But the CFS wanted a better venue for its diehard flock of film fans; they just couldn’t justify asking patrons to sweat and shiver during the showings. They needed a new home. “The partnership between Chicago Film Society and Northeastern came about in the best possible way,” CFS programmer Kyle Westphal said. “Kiyan Warner was a Northeastern student who also worked at the Music Box Theatre. He was aware of our plight and recognized a complementary gap in Northeastern’s programming. He reached out to us and suggested that Northeastern could be a good fit.” Warner was right. The CFS connected with Northeastern’s Department of Communication, Media and Theatre (CMT) and partnership discussions began.



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“The series puts us on the map with the broader film community.” “The Auditorium in Building E had great sightlines and comfortable seats; it even had a projection booth, but no projector,” Westphal said. “We supplied the projectors, since we have a sizable collection of projectors and projector parts. Northeastern purchased a screen and we started putting together our first program.” Indeed, besides Northeastern’s convenient location, the University’s 425-seat Auditorium proved to be a perfect match with an existing booth that could accommodate the 35mm projectors that are required to screen the CFS’s collection of films. Since the partnership was formed in the summer of 2015, the CFS has screened more than 70 films at Northeastern. From its first selection, the obscure golf-themed Technicolor musical “Follow Thru” from 1930, the CFS has sold more than 6,500 tickets, growing its audience to include Northeastern students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as its core attendees. “We explored what was possible at one of our department meetings,” Associate Professor of Communication, Media and Theatre and Director of Graduate Studies Shayne Pepper said. “The key need for the film society was a stable home. Local theaters were able to accommodate the series for short runs, but the idea of a permanent place to be in residence was appealing.” The Chicago Film Society has a reputation for programming an eclectic mix of films each season, and each feature also includes a short film or cartoon as well as trailers or old advertisements. Many of the films are not available on home video, so 35mm prints are the only way to see them. “Quite a few of these are classic films by respected directors. Some are lesser-known gems that are interesting in their own right,” Pepper said. Such films include William C. deMille’s “The Bedroom Window,” a silent whodone-it that was screened at Northeastern with live organ accompaniment, Fleischer Studios’ animated “Gulliver’s Travels,” and the PreFALL 2017

Code “Okay, America!” that was produced in 1932 before censorship guidelines were more systematically enforced in Hollywood. “Important to the mission is the film artifact itself,” Pepper said. “Sometimes we get archival prints; sometimes we get newly restored prints.” Prints come from film studios, museums, archives and private collections. Several of the screenings have been prints from the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the UCLA Film and Television Archive and others that work to preserve cinema history. Beyond establishing a home for the series, there are additional benefits to both partners— including Northeastern’s students. “We saw that the partnership would provide increased publicity for both parties and engagement with the local community, as the Albany Park/ North Park area did not have a public venue for film screenings,” Pepper said. “For Northeastern, we recognized that there would be a clear benefit to our students who would have access to 35mm exhibition of important and classic works of cinema. We saw the potential of incorporating these screenings into our film studies curriculum, and we have done so with great success.” Such integration includes assigning students to attend a CFS screening for an Introduction to Cinema or American Cinema class. It also manifests as bonus points for students who attend a screening and write a review of the film for a Writing Intensive Program or Fundamentals of Media Writing class. “These are all great ways to integrate the films, but we also wanted to establish a class that is centered around the film society screenings,” Pepper said. CMTM 390: NEIU Cinémathèque was developed and was first offered in Spring 2017. The course not only fosters the discussion and research of films, but it also helps students meet their academic needs. “Most universities have a cinémathèque class where students attend films and discuss them to earn a single credit hour,” Pepper said. “We’ve followed this model at a time when our students have a need to hit 40 credit

hours at the 300-level. Since 40 credits aren’t easily divisible by three, many students are left needing a single credit. That’s where the Cinémathèque class can come in.” In addition to attending five required screenings and writing response papers about them, the Cinémathèque students also complete online activities that explore topics related to the material practices of viewing, archiving, preserving and studying film. One of those students developed his love for film while growing up in an apartment above a photography studio. “My mother worked for the photographer mounting pictures in wedding albums. My father would shoot weddings on the side when the photographer’s schedule was too full,” CMT major Jason Merel said. “There was an attached film lab, so I would also get to go in the darkroom and see film develop. To a kid, that’s as close to real ‘magic’ as you get. So I learned to appreciate film and its unique qualities from an early age.” Not everyone has the opportunity to get that experience. “It’s really cool that we have a film society in residence at Northeastern. In a time when our media consumption is pushing more and more to digital, it’s important to understand and appreciate the origins of how people have been capturing images for the last century or so,” Merel said. “No matter your personal tastes or interests it’s undeniable that, if nothing else, film is an excellent visual historic record.” Merel’s favorite experience was the screening of “So This is Paris,” a rare silent film from 1925 that was presented with live organ accompaniment—all from the comfort of Northeastern’s Auditorium. “The series puts us on the map with the broader film community and spreads the word about Northeastern as a key place for film screenings in Chicago,” Pepper said. “For our students, I think it’s incredibly valuable for them to see film on film. It’s an increasingly rare experience these days.” NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY I magazine


Life Comes First

Distinguished Alumnus Award winner Thomas White focuses on the journey Thomas White doesn’t like to talk about plans. He prefers to talk about journeys. Perhaps that should be a surprise coming from a man who recently retired from a remarkably successful career in insurance and finance, industries that are built on planning. Then again, White is much more than a CEO. He is a former All-America college football player who graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education. Who signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Who landed an entry-level insurance job on the recommendation of a former Northeastern teammate and rose to the very top of the industry, leading divisions all over the globe. And who—along with his wife, Karen—has dedicated his life to service and philanthropy, supporting charitable causes in Asia, Africa and of course at home in the United States.



“You never know what your journey will be,” White said. “Hold on to your core values. When you die, people don’t care about your net worth. What they really care about is whether you were a loving spouse, a loving daughter, a loving father.” This is the message White repeated during his Commencement address to students on December 11. White was selected to speak after earning Northeastern’s 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor the University bestows upon alumni. “I’m humbled that I would be recognized this way,” said White, who received the award during the NEIU Weekend Golden Gala in September of 2016. “It also makes me say I have to be a bigger supporter of Northeastern. I have to say out loud how much I love Northeastern. I have to be influential in the global communities to say there is a university where we need to be recruiting from.”

By Mike Hines While he experienced incredible business success—most recently serving as president of Farmers Non-Insurance Businesses—White is most proud of the charitable work he has done with Karen, his wife of 37 years. Together, they have worked to help children with cleft palates through Operation Smile, built houses for tsunami victims and comforted abandoned babies with AIDS. During his Commencement address, White noted Northeastern’s ranking as the most diverse university in the Midwest. “I want each of you to be a guardian of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “I want you to be inclusive of all people to drive innovation. Understanding and harvesting the power of diversity and inclusion is a key to a better future for you. Take that as a gift that Northeastern has given you.”

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ANGELINA WRAAS (B.A. ’16 Health and Wellness) JEAN POLOUS (B.A. ’16 Health and Wellness)

Northeastern Legacy

Jean & Angelina Angelina Wraas can be forgiven for cutting in line at the May 2016 Commencement ceremony. It’s not that she wanted to cross the stage sooner—she wanted to cross the stage with her mother, Jean Polous. Indeed, mother and daughter graduated from Northeastern Illinois University at the same time and with the same degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Wellness. The accomplishment was more than an educational feat. For Polous, a survivor of domestic violence, the degree was an affirmation of her potential. “No matter what happens in a person’s life, no matter what walk of life you come from, you can still come back to school and follow your dreams,” Polous said. Wraas and Polous volunteer together to help the elderly, animals, children and the homeless, and hope to one day found a nonprofit organization to help caretakers of people with special needs like Polous’ son, Matthew, who has autism. “Earning a college degree was on our bucket list and it happened,” said Wraas, who plans to become a preschool teacher. “Who knows? We might even come back to Northeastern for a master’s degree.”


Office of the President 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue Chicago, IL 60625

NEIU WEEKEND September 15-16

You know this is going to be big—we have 150 years of Northeastern to celebrate! Bring the family to sway to the music, picnic on the Commons, win the bag toss, get fancied up to celebrate incredible alumni, and most importantly, add your voice to support Northeastern.

Highlights Include: • Fall Fest outdoor concert • Golden Eagle Family Picnic • Golden Gala Alumni Awards Dinner

NEIU Magazine Summer 2017  
NEIU Magazine Summer 2017