Commencement Speaker Rita Moreno at NEIU

Friday, May 15, 2015

The week began with another inspirational Commencement ceremony—this one featuring the legendary Rita Moreno as speaker—and ended with the groundbreaking for Northeastern Illinois University’s first residence hall. Relive the week with photos, a video of Moreno’s speech and much more!

Around the Commons


Commencement with Rita Moreno

With her signature style, passion and flair, award-winning entertainer Rita Moreno encouraged graduates to continue learning and evolving throughout their lives during the Northeastern Commencement ceremony at UIC Pavilion. “Surround yourself with those who love and support you, who believe in you,” said Moreno, who also received an honorary doctorate degree. “Don’t ever let anyone interfere with your dream or your focus or your vision. It belongs to you.” (Also be sure to check out another video of Commencement!)

Coming in 2016: Student housing!

With a ceremonial scoop of the shovels, Northeastern broke ground May 14 on the first residence hall in the University’s history. “Today marks a milestone in our commitment to student life and to student success, inviting both our current students and additional students from near and far to join our special university,” President Sharon Hahs said. “Student housing complements our excellent academic programs, fosters a greater sense of community for our students, and strengthens our transformative educational experience for all.”

An honor for the dean

College of Education Dean Maureen Gillette was named one of the nation’s 30 most influential education deans by Mometrix Test Preparation. Mometrix created the list by analyzing state and national awards and honors, education program rankings, individual degree program rankings and the level of pay received by graduated teachers from the schools examined.

A published professor

Associate Professor of Mathematics Tanya Cofer’s article “Mathematical Explanatory Strategies Employed by Prospective Secondary Teachers” has been published in the Springer’s International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education.

And there’s more!

  • Reminder: Northeastern will be closed Monday, May 25, in observance of Memorial Day.
  • The McCormick Foundation, in partnership with Illinois Campus Compact, has awarded Northeastern an $8,000 2014-2015 McCormick Strategic Civic Leader Fellows grant.
  • El Centro architect Juan Moreno received the PAD MMXIV Gold Medal from the Consulate General of Colombia in Chicago and the Society of Architects of Colombia in New York on May 14. The event took place at El Centro, of course.
  • Northeastern is seeking proposals through June 15 for a mural near the El Centro location in the Avondale neighborhood.
  • Assistant Professor of English Julie Iromuanya’s new book, “Mr. and Mrs. Doctor,” made the Modern Maiasaura 52 Books in 52 Weeks list.
  • Center for Teaching and Learning Coordinator of Learning Technologies Thomas Tobin delivered the keynote address at the Roane State Community College Ed Tech Academy on May 12-13 in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  • Assistant Professor of Special Education Mickie Wong-Lo will serve on the editorial board for the Chicago International Conference on Education on May 26-27.

In the media


All about Rita Moreno

NBC Chicago, CBS Chicago, Telemundo, Hoy and The Associated Press all covered Rita Moreno’s appearance as Northeastern’s Commencement speaker. “Education is everything, speaking from the point of view of someone who never finished high school,” Moreno said at a morning press conference.

Teaching through music

KUAF radio in Arkansas aired a 15-minute interview with Associate Professor of Secondary Education Tim Duggan. He talked about how music can help students learn and played some of his own songs.

Also in the media ...

  • WTTW included Math major Gabriel Redd in an On the Table gathering at Tre Kronor Restaurant.
  • Bloomberg Business reported that Ken Koziol (B.A. ’80 Political Science and Business Management) has been named Executive Vice President of Panera Bread Company.
  • The Chicago Tribune reported that Marc Spacone (M.A. ’06 School Leadership) will serve a four-year term as trustee on the Lake Zurich Village Board.
  • Crain’s Chicago Business highlighted Ensemble Español and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project in its roundup of the summer’s top dance performances.

To do

Jewel Box Series

Critically acclaimed bluegrass band Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen Band will perform at Northeastern on Friday, May 15. Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen Band integrate bluegrass and newgrass with singing and songwriting to craft a sound that is unique to this genre. The Examiner listed the event in its roundup of top musical acts.

Mark your calendar!


Commencement rewind

Whether you saw the #NEIUgrad slide show on the big screen at Commencement or not, you can relive it now! Check out the fun, funny and heartfelt messages from the graduates as well as their families and friends.

Do you have a story tip? Let the public relations office know!
Mike Hines, director of public relations,, (773) 442-4240