NIU president states his case at Naperville chamber lunch

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker provided a roadmap for a bold future for NIU in the face of the state’s challenging financial picture during his keynote speech at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s final monthly General Membership Luncheon of 2013 last month.

The luncheon audience of hundreds of chamber members listened attentively as President Baker outlined his administration’s vision of student career success, the “one main thing” expected to sustain and advance NIU and its campus community in today’s rapidly changing modern world.

“In my estimation, at NIU, the one thing we need to focus on is student CAREER success,” Baker said to the audience, which included a number of NIU alumni.

He said paid internships are the single-most important thing that predicts whether students will get a job after graduation–more important than their grade-point-average, their school or their area of study–and called on the 225,000 NIU alumni in the business community to mentor students and assist in their networking. That message was not new to alumni in the audience, including 2012 graduate Kyle Kliebhan, who works for a hotel management company that runs Marriott and Hilton properties in Warrenville.

“Dr. Baker sends out a weekly email, and I love that. It’s really connected the community and the alums with the university,” Kliebahn said. “Just by being here and talking about his pillars, telling us what we need to be doing as alums and members of the community, that’s great. That’s what we need, and for me being a graduate, that’s what I want as well.”

“So often those in higher education talk about student success; they want students to come to the university and graduate, but that seems to fall a little bit short,” Baker continued, noting a number of college graduates are unemployed and end up moving back home with their parents. “It would be nice if they had a highly-marketable degree and had people knocking at their doors offering them jobs.”

Three more pillars – Ethically Inspired Leadership, Thriving Communities and NIU Financial and Program Viability – support the president’s vision to make NIU “an incredible place” not only intellectually, culturally and socially but economically and physically. Baker wants to make the campus community truly global, with ample opportunity to study abroad along with a vibrant international student population that enhances the learning environment of the DeKalb campus.

He told the group that NIU recently hosted a delegation of 23 leaders from Chinese higher education institutions to explore partnerships and course articulation between the institutions. He said these types of partnerships would provide great experiences for NIU graduates in the global marketplace.

Lauren Diehl, director of sales and marketing for the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, graduated from NIU’s Professional MBA program Sunday, and she also received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Northern in 2010. As part of her MBA coursework, she studied in Paris, France, and Barcelona, Spain.

“My Professional MBA program was a one-year program that I did while working full-time, so it was just a fabulous experience for me being able to do that while still being in the workplace simultaneously. It was a great benefit to be learning while having those experiences inside the workplace,” Diehl said.


–News Bulletin news sources