A photo of Daniel L. Goodwin, smiling, wearing a dark colored suit with a white collared shirt and blue tie. The lettering of the  Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education visible in the background of the building's brick exterior.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Daniel Lee Goodwin, whose historic contributions to Northeastern Illinois University transformed the institution, died on Jan. 19. He was 80 years old.


“Mr. Goodwin’s lasting legacy and firm belief in the power of Northeastern's mission will continue to positively impact the University community and will be forever appreciated,” said Northeastern Interim President Katrina E. Bell-Jordan. 


Mr. Goodwin was born in Berwyn, Illinois, on June 26, 1943, to the late Leo and Mildred Goodwin. He graduated from Lane Tech High School and attended Northeastern when it was known as Chicago Teachers College - North. It was there that he met his wife Carol, and they both earned their bachelor’s degrees in Education from Northeastern in 1966, becoming two of the first graduates to earn degrees at what is known today as the Main Campus. Mr. Goodwin went on to earn a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University. After teaching in Chicago Public Schools for five years — and seeing firsthand the affordable housing challenges that many families faced — he became the founder, chairman and CEO of The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, a multibillion-dollar real estate and financial organization headquartered on a 13-acre campus in Oak Brook, Illinois. He founded the company with three fellow Chicago area public school teachers: Robert H. Baum, G. Joseph Cosenza and Robert Parks. 


Mr. Goodwin’s passion for his business was equaled by his dedication to his family and desire to contribute to personal and philanthropic causes, for which he received numerous local and national recognitions. In 2017, Mr. Goodwin was the first and only Illinois REALTOR® to be honored with the state association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring his substantial service to the real estate industry and his lifelong commitment to fair housing for all. 


Mr. Goodwin cared deeply for Northeastern and left an indelible mark on the University with a series of “firsts.” As a student, he was elected the first Student Government Association president, a position he noted in an interview as one of the “most rewarding experiences” he had during his time at the University. He was the first and only alumnus to serve on the Board of Governors of Illinois State Colleges and Universities. In 1996, he became the first Chair of the NEIU Board of Trustees, and served on the Board for 10 years. In 2005, Mr. Goodwin was the first recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest alumni honor the University bestows, and was the University’s first alumnus to receive an honorary doctorate from the institution. 


In October 2015, Mr. Goodwin made an unprecedented contribution of $2.5 million to Northeastern, the largest single charitable gift in the University’s history. The gift established two robust endowments — one for scholarships and another for program support for the College of Education — as well as the Daniel L. Goodwin Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings prominent speakers to campus. 


In consideration of his transformational investment, dedication to the University and commitment to education, the NEIU Board of Trustees voted to honor Mr. Goodwin by renaming the College of Education in his honor. In doing so, Mr. Goodwin became the first person and only alumnus to have a Northeastern college named in their honor. Today, the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education remains the University’s oldest academic unit, offering more than 25 different programs, majors and certifications, and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation, the premier accrediting body approved by the U.S. Department of Education.


Mr. Goodwin shared that his motivation to make such a generous donation was to “build the NEIU Foundation, and to motivate alumni to provide meaningful endowments that will give the University additional funds to experiment with bold initiatives in education.” 


Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation Liesl Downey worked with Mr. Goodwin for many years and was astounded by his dedication to making the lives of others better. 


“Mr. Goodwin was an accomplished leader, not only as a pioneer in the real estate industry, but also a visionary philanthropist who inspired others,” Downey said. “The impact of his leadership and service are nothing short of profound."


Over the years, Mr. Goodwin’s financial contributions have benefited the University and its students in numerous ways, such as: 

  • Since 2001, 349 students have benefited from Mr. Goodwin's endowments and scholarships. 
  • The NEIU Foundation has distributed $254,779 from Mr. Goodwin's endowed scholarships over the years, not including the $52,000 in Goodwin scholarship distributions available this fiscal year. 
  • Northeastern has hosted eight Daniel L. Goodwin Lectures since 2016. The lectureship series has brought notable people such as Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, environmental activist Erin Brockovich, and journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to the University. The series is expected to continue to be part of Mr. Goodwin’s legacy at Northeastern. 

In addition to his wife Carol, Mr. Goodwin is survived by daughters Julie Tice (Matthew), Jennifer Blaha (Joshua); grandchildren Jordan, Daniel and Connally Tice, and Alexis and Nicholas Blaha; his brothers William (Diane) and John (Janelle); many nieces and nephews, and a large circle of friends and colleagues. 


Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, at Knollcrest Funeral Home, 1500 S. Meyers Road in Lombard, Illinois. A memorial mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at St. Mary's of Gostyn Church, 445 Prairie Avenue, in Downers Grove, Illinois. Interment will be private.


Northeastern Illinois University will plan a commemoration of his life and legacy at an appropriate time in the future.