Laurie Elish-Piper plans to inspire – and expects to find inspiration – in 2018.
The dean of the NIU College of Education used the platform of the spring all-college meeting to reveal her “one word” focus for personal development and effort and to also encourage faculty and staff to choose their own “one word” missions.
“Mine is ‘inspire.’ One of my goals is to inspire others to do their best work, to set higher goals and to engage,” Elish-Piper told the audience. “I also want to make sure that I take the time to look at, learn about and be inspired by all the amazing work you’re doing.”
Evidence of that work proved in ample supply during the 90-minute meeting Jan. 9, which also included remarks from Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman.
Shining examples included expansion of Educate U.S., which this semester will send students to practice their teaching skills at a Native American reservation in North Dakota.
Meanwhile, Elish-Piper said, the “Engage” division of the donor- and partner-funded Educate and Engage Program soon will provide “fabulous opportunities” to non-licensure students.
Kinesiology majors can travel to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado while Sport Management students can visit several facilities in Indianapolis, including the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
College of Ed faculty and staff learned from David Walker, associate dean for Academic Affairs, that enrollment in the College of Education is climbing, something unique among NIU’s seven colleges.
Walker (one word: “care”) partially attributed those gains – up 0.76 percent at the undergraduate level, and up 4.26 percent at the graduate level, for a grand total of 2.41 percent at the time of the all-college meeting – to the college’s emphasis on intentional growth, a pillar of the Strategic Action Planning Framework.
At the undergraduate level, the college is working on one new degree (the B.S. in Sport Management), four new minors (including the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education’s minor in Social Change Leadership), 19 new courses and three new certificates of study that will all be ready for Fall 2018 enrollment.
Graduate programs added a new certificate and a new specialization, both in the Department of Special and Early Education, and 17 new courses for Fall 2018.
Honors enrollment of College of Education students soared 24 percent in one year, Walker added.
Bill Pitney, associate dean of Research, Resources and Innovation, reported on progress in the framework’s Research Advancement objective despite small drops in the college’s research productivity.
Pitney (one word: “grace”) saluted two professors – Ben Creed from the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations; and Zachary Wahl-Alexander, from the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education – who were named to the PI Academy External Mentoring Program.
Five faculty members were recognized as recipients of Dean’s Research Grants. All eventually will present the results of their work, as previous grantees did during the fall semester.
It all sounded wonderful to Freeman, who called herself “optimistic about NIU’s future.”
“The College of Education values and priorities align with NIU’s mission and core values, as well as the university’s commitments to excellence, knowledge creation, innovative practice and social justice,” Freeman said.
“Moreover, your strategic planning efforts are appropriately reflective of the opportunities identified through Program Prioritization,” she added, “as well as the historical importance of the College of Education as an anchor of the university and a leader in P-20 educational innovation across our region, state, nation and world.”
She applauded the college’s new ranking from U.S. News & World Report – “As impressive as the No. 5 ranking is that the college was ranked No. 3 for peer respect. People are talking about NIU,” she said – as well as the University of Tetovo exhibition in the Blackwell History of Education Museum.
NIU’s chief executive encouraged the audience to “hope for the best and plan for the worst” when it comes to Springfield and budgets. The university is “prepared for the unthinkable,” she added.
Higher education must actively engage in the conversation in Illinois as some call for consolidation, she said. “We shouldn’t be staying away from tough conversations. We should be encouraging realistic conversation,” she said. “What we need to do is be unafraid to speak.”
Freeman then revealed her “one word” for 2018 – “relationships” – which reinforces the importance of collaboration.
Relationships provide resources for individuals and institutions. Relationships surround people with others who see the world differently. Relationships heal, reaffirm, encourage and, with a nod to Dean Elish-Piper, inspire.
“When you can never get enough time or money to do something,” Freeman said, “the value of relationships is one that should never be underestimated.”
Enjoy photos from the all-college meeting and the festive “Winter Wonderland” social event that followed immediately in the Learning Center.