NIU Names Educator from Idaho as President

Douglas D. Baker – an award-winning professor of business, proven high-level administrator and scholar of management and leadership in higher education – has been named the 12th president of Northern Illinois University.

NIU’s Board of Trustees voted recently to hire the 57-year-old Baker, whose appointment will be effective July 1. He currently serves as provost and executive vice president at the University of Idaho.


An expert in organizational strategy, structure and motivation, Baker said he hopes to bring NIU to the fore as a national model for a 21st century public university.

“NIU is clearly a university with strong students, an excellent staff and outstanding faculty, who are not only exceptional teachers but also top researchers,” he said. “The university’s focus on student engagement is right on target, because ‘job one’ for any university must be student success in the rapidly changing social and economic environment. I believe I can help the university build upon its vision.”

Baker added that the university has the resources to make a difference in the region and beyond, and to provide a world-class experience to students, while at the same time fostering a sense of community.

“NIU is big enough to matter,” he said, “and small enough to care.”

Baker will replace current NIU President John G. Peters, who last fall announced he would step down June 30, after 13 years at the helm. 

“NIU will be forever grateful to Dr. John Peters for his outstanding service and leadership,” said Cherilyn Murer, Board of Trustees chair. “In working to find his replacement, we were blessed to have a number of highly respected candidates, and we landed our top choice.

“Dr. Baker possesses a unique set of credentials, as an award-winning business professor, a skilled academic officer and a researcher who has studied university leadership and motivation,” she added. “The NIU Board of Trustees believes that his background and expertise represent a strong fit with the needs of the university over the next decade.”

Baker holds a Ph.D. in business from the University of Nebraska, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Colorado State University. He has served in his present position at the University of Idaho since 2005. His accomplishments there have included:

Leading strategic-planning efforts that set institutional goals and helped eliminate a long-standing fiscal deficit.

Overseeing a collaborative academic-program prioritization process that created a stronger and more efficient institution.

Hiring more than 15 senior leaders (including six deans in two years) to build a strong, cohesive administrative team.

Creating and staffing a university enrollment management system.

Instituting a focus on student retention that resulted in a significant increase in freshman-to-sophomore retention.

Prior to the University of Idaho, Baker spent 24 years in the Washington State University system, teaching management, organizational behavior, organizational design, strategic planning, human resource management and research methods.