During a town hall meeting with the University Community on July 6, Northeastern Illinois University President Sharon Hahs announced her plans to retire on September 30 after nearly a decade at the helm.
Since she assumed the role as NEIU President in 2007, Hahs has led transformative endeavors that expanded the University both academically and physically. At her departure she will have prepared Northeastern for the 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and the public launch of Transforming Lives, the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Having served in public higher education for 42 years, Hahs delayed her retirement plans due to the state budget crisis. Hahs indicated that with the passage of the stopgap budget, the University is stable, resilient, and has strong leadership in place for the next phase of Northeastern’s Strategic Plan; this is a good time for a transition.
“It has been deeply gratifying to lead the University in these challenging times,” she said. “My entire career in public higher education prepared me for this role; it has been my honor and joy to work with committed and talented faculty and staff, serving bright and hard-working students, helping them to meet their professional and personal goals. I am also grateful for the enduring commitment of alumni and friends.”
Hahs will recommend to the Board of Trustees that Provost Richard Helldobler serve as Interim President, postponing a national search for president until Illinois has at least one full regular budget cycle. The Board is expected to hold a special meeting to address this in the next two or three weeks.
Hahs came to Northeastern from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where she worked from 2000 to 2007 as Provost after serving as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
During her decade as President, Hahs oversaw the construction of the University’s new El Centro location—an award-winning, highly visible building along the Kennedy Expressway. She not only paved the way for Northeastern to open its first residence hall this fall, but she built a strong reputation for Northeastern that reflects its quality programs and the success of its graduates. During her tenure, Northeastern has had some of its largest graduating classes; in fact, more than 17,000 degrees have been conferred.
President Hahs has been a leader of positive change, having established—among many things—Northeastern’s Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs. She has continually led efforts to attract the best and brightest students to Northeastern and is deeply committed to assuring that they are well-prepared for leadership and service in a global society.
SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS UNDER PRESIDENT SHARON HAHS
Northeastern Illinois University is a fully accredited public university serving approximately 10,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students at five locations in the Chicago metropolitan area. It is a dynamic university with remarkable diversity, excellent faculty, high-quality academic programs, and a proven track record of career preparation. The University President serves as the chief executive officer of the University and assumes general responsibility for its operation, directing the institution according to its mission and strategic goals. Five Vice Presidents report directly to the President: Academic Affairs, Finance and Administration, Legal Affairs, Student Affairs, and Institutional Advancement.
- Bolstered the reputation and profile of the institution, earning it distinctions such as Newsweek’s 6th Best Investment, U.S. News & World Report’s Least Debt upon graduation and Top 100 schools for graduating ethnically diverse students (Diverse: Issues in Higher Education).
- Demonstrated external influence through leadership roles, such as Convener of Illinois Public University Presidents and Chancellors, governing board member of Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), member of USDA-HACU Leadership Group, member of the American Council on Education’s Commission on Women in Higher Education, member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Presidential Advisory Committee on Stewards of Place, board member of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, and board member of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation; and has been recognized with the Illinois Women’s History Award, the NASPA President’s Award, and the Polonia Educators Award.
- Led an extensive strategic planning initiative that resulted in new degree programs and professional accreditations, and improved graduation rates, graduating the highest number of students in Northeastern’s history; updated the planning in 2015.
- Created the Institutional Advancement division, developed fundraising capability, built the endowment, revived the Alumni Association and launched Northeastern’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, receiving the first million-dollar gift and the first multimillion-dollar gift.
- Expanded international and community partnerships.
- Established the University Planning and Budget Council, University Advisory Council, Enrollment Planning Council, Development Council, Great Service Matters Program (Learn and Lead Symposium), Presidential Fellows Program, Ombuds Program, and the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs.
- Oversaw the construction the University’s new, award-winning El Centro location, a focal point for the Latino community, allowing Northeastern to expand academic and community programming.
- Dedicated four buildings and six centers.
- Built and will dedicate in August the first residence hall.