Northern Illinois University (NIU) is a public research university located in DeKalb, Illinois, United States, with satellite centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rockford, and Oregon. It was originally founded as Northern Illinois State Normal School on May 22, 1895, by Illinois Governor John P. Altgeld as part of an expansion of the state's system for producing college educated teachers. Douglas Baker was named the university's twelfth president in May, 2013.
The university is composed of seven degree-granting colleges and has a student body of 25,000 with over 225,000 alumni. Many of NIU's programs are nationally accredited for meeting high standards of academic quality, including business, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and all teacher certification programs. It is one of only two public universities in Illinois that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the highest levels of all sports, Division I. NIU's athletic teams are known as the Huskies and compete in the Mid-American Conference.
Northern Illinois University was founded as part of the expansion of the normal school program established in 1857 in Normal, Illinois. In 1895, the state legislature created a Board of Trustees for the governance of the Northern Illinois State Normal School, which would eventually grow into the what is today known as NIU.
In July 1917, the Illinois Senate consolidated the boards of trustees for the five state normal schools (Eastern Illinois State Normal School, Illinois State Normal School, Northern Illinois State Normal School, Southern Illinois State Normal University, and Western Illinois State Normal School) into one state Normal School Board.
Over the next fifty-eight years both the school and the governing board changed their names several times. In 1921, the legislature gave the institution the name Northern Illinois State Teachers College and empowered it to award the four-year Bachelor of Education degree. In 1941 the Normal School Board changed its name to the Teachers College Board. In 1951 the Teachers College Board authorized the college to grant the degree Master of Science in Education, and the institution's Graduate School was established. On July 1, 1955, the state legislature renamed the college Northern Illinois State College and authorized the college to broaden its educational services by offering academic work in areas other than teacher education. The Teachers College Board granted permission for the college to add curricula leading to the degrees Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. On July 1, 1957, the Seventieth General Assembly renamed Northern Illinois State College as Northern Illinois University in recognition of its expanded status as a liberal arts university.
In 1965, the Illinois State Teachers College Board became the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities and was reorganized to include Northeastern University, Governor's State, and Chicago State Universities. In 1967 authority for Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University, and Sangamon State University were passed on to a newly formed Board of Regents. In 1984, the Board of Regents created the position of Chancellor for the three regent universities, to act as a chief executive for all three schools; the first person appointed chancellor was then-NIU President William R. Monat. The Board of Regents and the Chancellor governed the three Regency universities until the end of 1995. On January 1, 1996, authority for each of the three regency universities was transferred to three independent Boards of Trustees, each concerned solely with one university.
A shooting took place on campus at Cole Hall on February 14, 2008. Six people died in the shooting, including the perpetrator, making it the fourth-deadliest university shooting in United States history.
NIU has seven degree-granting colleges that together offer more than 60 undergraduate majors, 70 minors, nine pre-professional programs, and 79 graduate programs, including a College of Law, and over 20 areas of study leading to doctoral degrees. Many of NIU's academic programs are nationally accredited for meeting the highest standards of academic quality and rigor, including business, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and all teacher certification programs.
New interdisciplinary academic programs in Environmental Studies and Community Leadership and Civic Engagement were established in FY 2012.
NIU is classified as a "National University" by U.S. News & World Report. In the most recent 2014 edition, NIU was ranked number 177 out of 206 ranked National Universities (75 National Universities were left unranked). The same publication also ranks NIU as 41st best in the country for Public Affairs programs, and within that field, NIU's program in City Management & Urban Policy is ranked 3rd in the nation and the Public Finance & Budgeting program at 12th.
Washington Monthly ranks NIU as the 135th National University in the United States, making it the 3rd highest ranked public university in Illinois. Forbes magazine, which began publishing an annual list in 2008, prepared by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity of "America's Best Colleges" uses the list of alumni published in Who's Who in America, student evaluations from RateMyProfessors.com, self-reported salaries of alumni from PayScale, four-year graduation rates, numbers of students and faculty receiving "nationally competitive awards," and four-year accumulated student debt to calculate the rankings, places NIU as number 561 on its list.
NIU is a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. NIU is also a member of the prominent Universities Research Association that manages several federal physics laboratories including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognizes Northern Illinois University as high-level research institution of higher education, based on breadth of research and academic programs. Carnegie categorizes Northern as: "RU/H: Research Universities (high research activity)." The Northern Illinois University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was listed in the American Chemical Society's trade journal Chemical & Engineering News on September 26, 2005, as one of the top 25 producers of ACS-certified Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry in the United States.
The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences is well known for highly ranked programs in hydrogeology and polar science. The department has held leadership roles in Antarctic geological drilling programs since the Dry Valley Drilling project in the early 1970s, and faculty and their students have been continuously active in numerous Antarctic climate history research and field work, including the Cape Roberts Project, The ANDRILL project and the WISSARD project.
Currently, the Ph.D. is offered by 10 academic departments and the Ed.D. in six academic majors.
NIU's Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management hosts numerous programs to enhance students' learning and living experience on campus.
First-Year Connections hosts UNIV 101 (University Experience) and UNIV 201 (The Transfer Experience), which provide an invaluable introduction to college. These elective 1-credit, 12-week courses are designed to help new students adjust to NIU and develop the skills necessary to succeed in college and beyond. During the fall 2009, more than 62 percent of the freshman class enrolled in a UNIV 101 course. These courses have an average class size of 20 students and are designed to foster close interaction.
A new Academic Advising Center works with "undecided" students from the time they arrive on campus during orientation until they've selected a major. The student-centered staff advises students as they develop specialized academic plans compatible with student educational and life goals.
Resource centers serve African-American, Asian-American and Latino students as well as off-campus and non-traditional students, military veterans, lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students and women.
Among the many services of the office of Student Involvement & Leadership Development are opportunities for local and far-reaching volunteerism, including NIU Cares Day, Rake Across DeKalb and alternative spring break programs.
The Counseling & Student Development Center supports the academic, emotional, social and cultural development of students through counseling, assessment, crisis response, outreach, consultation, training and educational services. Counselors help students to address personal challenges and acquire the attitudes, abilities and knowledge that will enable them to take full advantage of their college experience.
Health Enhancement strives to provide student-centered, relevant health promotion information, materials and interventions to assist students as they pursue their academic goals. The staff includes four health educators and a health consultant.
NIU's residence halls (including two complexes with four 13-story towers each) provide several living options to on-campus students. Living-learning floors include the Health Professions House; Business Careers House; Teacher Education and Certification House (TEACH); Honors House; International House; Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) House; and Fine Arts House. Other floor options include all-men, all-women, transfers, quiet lifestyle and alcohol-free.
Northern View Community, which opened in 2008, offers an apartment living experience to undergraduate students who are at least two years post high school, graduate students, law students or any student who has a dependent and/or a partner or spouse.
The university's DeKalb campus is in the process of a residential renaissance to ensure future students are able to obtain the best living and learning environment possible – from state-of-the-art new, technologically sophisticated residence halls built around a neighborhood theme with full amenities, to comfortable, functional public spaces. The New Residence Hall, a 1,000-bed complex just north of Lincoln Hall, opened to all students in Fall 2012. This new community features two residential buildings where students can live in clusters of 12. Additionally, Gilbert Hall, which has not been used as a residence hall since 1995, underwent complete renovation and re-opened Fall 2013. As well, after an extensive renovation, Grant C Tower reopened in fall 2011 with completely new accommodations and furnishings for NIU students. Grant D Tower was renovated and re-opened Fall 2013.
The Huskie Bus Line, the largest student-run university bus system in Illinois, operates seven days a week while school is in session during the fall and spring semesters.On the weekends it runs a different route. There is a system that allows you to track the location of Huskie Buses online in real-time.
NIU's Campus Child Care Center offers high quality care to children ages 2 months to 5 years, along with a summer school program for children ages 6 to 8. Enrollment is secured on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given first to currently enrolled families, followed by NIU students; NIU faculty and staff and the community. The center is licensed through the State of Illinois and accredited through the Academy of Early Childhood Program Accreditation.
The Campus Life Building is home to the Campus Activities Board, Career Services, the Counseling and Student Development Center, the Honors Program, the Northern Star student newspaper, the Student Association and Student Involvement and Leadership Development.
Opened in 2002, the NIU Convocation Center is a 10,000-seat multipurpose facility that hosts more than 200 events each year, including concerts, family shows, theatrical productions, job fairs, trade shows, Huskie athletics and commencement ceremonies.
The Holmes Student Center provides places to study, computer labs, restaurants, the University Bookstore, a branch of TCF Bank are more. It also is home to the Huskies Den, which features bowling, billiards, a video arcade and Xbox and Xbox 360 gaming.
The Student Recreation Center is the main facility for Recreation Services. The building, serving approximately 2,000 patrons daily, features 100,373 square feet (9,325.0 m2) of space, abundant state-of-the-art exercise and sports equipment, and numerous services to meet students' recreation, fitness and wellness needs.
Other recreation facilities include Chick Evans Field House, home to two large activity rooms with mirrors often used by dance clubs, a three-lane, 1/7-mile jogging and walking track, four multipurpose courts for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and floor hockey and a cardio- and strength-training room. Swimming pools are located in Anderson and Gabel Halls.
NIU is home to more than 400 student organizations, including a host of recreational sports clubs including lacrosse, volleyball, rugby, swimming, and ice hockey. Groups embrace interests from academics, advocacy, athletics and the arts to community service, ethnicity, politics and religion.
Panhellenic Council sororities include Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Phi, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Sigma Kappa, Sigma Lambda Sigma, and Sigma Sigma Sigma.
National Pan-Hellenic fraternities and sororities include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Iota Phi Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta.
Interfraternity Council fraternities include Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Kappa Lambda, Delta Chi, Delta Upsilon, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Theta, Phi Sigma Kappa, Omega Delta, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Nu,and Tau Kappa Epsilon.
United Greek Council fraternities and sororities include Alpha Phi Gamma, Alpha Psi Lambda, Alpha Sigma Omega, Chi Sigma Tau, Gamma Phi Omega, Kappa Pi Beta, Lambda Upsilon Lambda, Phi Rho Eta, Sigma Lambda Beta, Sigma Lambda Gamma, and Tau Phi Sigma.
Students and faculty in NIU's College of Visual and Performing Arts host dozens of art exhibitions, musical concerts' and theatrical and dance productions throughout the year. Many are free. The NIU new Anthropology Museum was opened to the public on February 12, 2012 in Cole Hall. The Anthropology collections are extensive, with foci on North American native collections and cultural artifacts from throughout Southeast Asia. NIU's School of Music also is home to the internationally renowned NIU Jazz Ensemble and NIU Steelband as well the Avalon String Quartet, described by the Chicago Tribune as "an ensemble that invites you – ears, mind and spirit – into its music."
The NIU Art Museum, which has several galleries in Altgeld Hall, hosts several shows of professional works. The campus also houses an anthropology museum (scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2011), the Blackwell History of Education Museum, the Burma Art Collection and the theater-based Historic Scenic Collection.
The Department of Communication sponsors the annual Reality Bytes Film Festival, created in 2002 by media studies professor Laura Vazquez to give NIU students the ability to competitively screen their work. The 2011 festival received more than 40 entries from across the country and as far away as Cuba, South Africa and Australia.
NIU was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1920 to 1967. Currently, the NIU Huskies compete in NCAA Division I, FBS (I-A) for Football, in the Mid-American Conference.
NIU's athletic department experienced large growth in reputation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Almost completely unknown to observers from outside of Illinois before the mid-1990s, the Huskies were ranked as high as 10th in the 2003 AP College Football poll after victories against BCS opponents number 14 Maryland (who finished that season at number 17), number 21 Alabama and Iowa State. In 2010, NIU football had its first undefeated MAC regular season (8-0), and cracked the top 25 in Associated Press and Coaches Polls. In 2012, NIU football, after winning another MAC Football Championship earned a place in the Orange Bowl and was the first team to participate in a BCS Bowl from the MAC conference.
On the west side of campus is Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium, the home of NIU football games, which also often hosts other significant outdoor events. Huskie Stadium, which has a seating capacity over 30,000, is surrounded by large open grassy areas which provide recreation, and also serve as the tailgating lots for football games. There is also a baseball field, Ralph McKinzie Field, a softball field, Mary M. Bell Field, a soccer field, Huskie Soccer Complex, and tennis courts, Gullikson Tennis Courts, which flank Huskie Stadium. At the Stadium's north end zone are two athletic buildings: the first is the $14-million Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Academic and Athletic Performance Center whose namesakes donated $2.5 million in the fall of 2006 to help with the construction. The facility opened in August 2007. The second is the Chessick Indoor Practice Center, an 80,600 square feet practice facility that houses the football, baseball, and softball teams. The building broke ground in November 2012 and was completed less than a year later in October 2013.
On the far west side of campus is the Convocation Center, a state-of-the-art 10,000 seat arena which hosts NIU men's and women's basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, and volleyball, Victor E. Court, games, the opening convocation ceremony for incoming freshmen, music concerts, and a variety of events throughout the year including job fairs, internship fairs, and other expositions.
The residence halls, located in the same area as the above athletic facilities, are also flanked by numerous sand volleyball areas, a large quad between the dorms, basketball courts, skating courts, Eco Lake, and open fields for recreation.
At the corner of Annie Glidden Road and Lucinda Avenue is the Chick Evans Field House, a building which consists of a series of gymnasiums, which has since been under-used since the basketball team moved to the Convocation Center. The fieldhouse continues to host expositions and sporting events of a smaller scale, and is the headquarters for the campus ROTC program.