The "Serenity" statue on the University Commons as seen from behind with the Library and Parking Facility in the background against a sunset sky

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Northeastern Illinois University has another reason to celebrate during its 150th year. The institution’s first fundraising campaign, called Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Northeastern Illinois University, reached its $10 million goal well ahead of schedule.

With almost 11 months left in the campaign, Interim President Richard Helldobler has announced an ambitious new goal of $12 million.

“I could not think of a better way for Northeastern to celebrate its sesquicentennial than to come together to meet and exceed the expectations for this important and impactful cause,” Helldobler said. “The contributions from the campaign’s generous donors will transform lives for years to come.”

Transforming Lives centers around two initiatives: Extraordinary Scholarship Support and Exceptional Learning Environments. During the remaining months of the campaign, Transforming Lives will concentrate on raising funds for student scholarships.

The campaign is already responsible for the establishment of 66 new scholarships, and Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation Liesl Downey is eager to build on that momentum.

“The success of this campaign is a credit to the spirit and generosity of the Northeastern community,” Downey said. “Contributing to scholarships is one of the ways donors can make the most direct impact on the lives of our students as we help them avoid the burdens of excessive student debt and allow them to concentrate on what’s important—learning, graduating and starting their careers.”

Transforming Lives publicly launched on April 7, 2017, with a kickoff event attended by presidents past and present, trustees, students, alumni, faculty, staff, NEIU Foundation Board members and close friends of Northeastern.

While the campaign was publicly launched in 2017, its roots trace back to 2014, when then-President Sharon Hahs recognized the University’s 150-year anniversary as an ideal time to launch a campaign. As is typical for university campaigns, the NEIU Foundation quietly raised $6 million toward the campaign before the public kickoff.

Much of the success of Transforming Lives can be attributed to the Goodwin Gift Challenge, in which alumnus and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees Daniel Goodwin pledged an unprecedented $2.5 million. Goodwin serves as one of three honorary co-chairs for the campaign, along with Presidents Emerita Hahs and Salme Harju Steinberg.

“We have almost 11 months to go to meet our new goal of $12 million,” Helldobler said. “This will be the Year of Scholarships at Northeastern.”