December 2016 Commencement for Northeastern Illinois University

Friday, March 31, 2017

The countdown to Commencement has officially begun! Northeastern Illinois University has announced this year’s speaker, and the Salute to Graduates events to prep for Commencement are coming up April 5-6.

Read more about Commencement, watch the teaser trailer video for next week’s launch of the Transforming Lives campaign, and find out how Northeastern earned a Voter Friendly Campus designation in this week’s edition of Noteworthy at Northeastern.

Around the Commons

Commencement speaker

Chicago lawyer and civic leader Valerie B. Jarrett, the longest-serving senior adviser to President Barack Obama, will be Northeastern’s May 2017 Commencement speaker. During the ceremony, Jarrett will be awarded an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of her outstanding achievements. “Over her many years of service in Chicago and in Washington, D.C., Valerie Jarrett has consistently demonstrated herself to be a champion of equality and opportunity for all,” Interim President Richard Helldobler said. “Those values are at the root of who we are at this institution. We are honored to welcome Ms. Jarrett into the Northeastern Illinois University family during Commencement.”


Northeastern Illinois University is one of 83 campuses in 23 states that have been designated as Voter Friendly Campuses. The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encouraged their students to register and vote in the 2016 general election and in the coming years.

Save the date!

Northeastern will host the kickoff celebration for the Transforming Lives fundraising campaign at 6:30 p.m. April 7 in Alumni Hall. All students, employees, alumni and friends of the University are invited. RSVP today!

Polish American Association honor

The Polish American Association (PAA) has announced its selection of Northeastern as its 2017 Honoree and Award recipient. The award will be presented during the Polish American Association’s Annual Gala on June 24. “We are excited to present this Award to one of the PAA’s most forward-thinking and innovative partners,” PAA Board Chair Adam Kamieniak said. “Northeastern’s embrace of newcomers, appreciation of divergent perspectives, and focus on preparing for a lifetime of service and engagement mirrors the immigrant’s journey from seeking a more meaningful life, to living a complete life.”

Raised in Chicago, Ready for the World

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, which has been in residence at Northeastern for more than 40 years, has added a breathtaking new video to its Raised in Chicago, Ready for the World campaign. The video arrives as the Ensemble has been awarded a major Growth Grant by Caerus Foundation, Inc. that will help the dance company expand its arts education programs and transition to a full-time professional company over the next three to five years. The grant has the potential to raise $1.5 million through a matching campaign over the next three years, and the NEIU Foundation has created a website for contributions to the matching effort.

And there’s more!

  • Forensics Colleges named Northeastern one of its Five Criminal Justice Schools With Low Student Debt and Solid Career Support.
  • Political Science Instructor Gregory Jackson contributed to a report by WalletHub, a personal finance website that conducts research and surveys, titled “2017’s States with the Best & Worst Taxpayer ROI.”
  • Members of the Northeastern community will participate in the University’s fifth annual Cesar Chavez Day of Service on April 1. Volunteers will work on tree upkeep and mulching at Gompers Park, garden work at the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm and toiletry bag preparation for refugees with the Pan African Association.
  • Northeastern will host Amundsen High School’s senior class on April 4. Students will learn about several departments across the University and will participate in activities on campus for most of the day. Northeastern has a longstanding partnership with the high school.
  • The 2017 recipients of the Administrative & Professional/Civil Service Annual Employee Excellence Awards are: Kip Conwell, Biology; Borislava Miltcheva, Learning Support Center; and Kristine Pierre, Student Affairs.
  • Dr. Linda Rae Murray, the former Chief Medical Officer of Cook County Health and Hospital System, delivered the keynote address for 2017 Health Day.

In the media

Windy City Times profile

Assistant Professor of Justice Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies Adam Messinger’s new book continues to draw attention from the media. The Windy City Times talked with Messinger about some of the key findings in “LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence: Lessons for Policy, Practice, and Research.” “My hope is that the book raises the national public profile of LGBTQ IPV,” Messinger told the Windy City Times. “It's a real, serious problem.” The Washington Blade also mentioned Messinger’s book.

Also in the media ...

  • Crain’s Chicago Business published a story about student debt at graduation with a map showing the averages for many of the state’s colleges and universities. Northeastern’s average is among the lowest and is well below both the national and state averages.
  • The Tahlequah (Okla.) Daily Press published a story about Northeastern students who volunteered with the Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity. They worked on a home’s deck and shingled the roof, among other efforts. The trip was part of Northeastern’s Alternative Spring Break program.
  • DNAinfo Chicago, Inside Higher Ed and The Associated Press reported on Northeastern’s announcement of Valerie Jarrett as Commencement speaker.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation interviewed Educational Leadership Program Instructor LeViis Haney for a story about the positive transformation of Joseph Lovett Elementary School, where Haney is the principal.
  • The Gloucester (Mass.) Times reported that Patricia Ahern (B.A. ’90 Board of Governors) has been named president and CEO of Care Dimensions hospice and palliative care company.
  • The Pioneer Press reported that Kristen Paul (M.A. ’07 Special Education; M.A. ’11 School Leadership) has been named principal of Barrington Middle School.
  • The Journal Online reported that Jeff Keske (B.A. ’15 Physical Education) has been named head wrestling coach at Palatine High School.
  • The Pioneer Press interviewed Peter Volpe (B.A. ’91 University Without Walls), who was named Casa Italia Chicago’s Man of the Year.
  • The Pioneer Press reported that Joe McCauley (M.A. ’99 Special Education) has been named principal of Ogden Avenue Elementary School in La Grange.

To do

Brommel-Hahs Lecture

Dr. Teresa K. Woodruff, an internationally recognized expert in ovarian biology who coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging of oncology and fertility, will deliver the inaugural Brommel-Hahs Lecture in the Recital Hall at 3 p.m. on April 13. The free presentation is titled “The 3 Breakthroughs That Will Change Our Lives in the Next 10 Years.”

Green Business Conference

Best-selling author, producer, broadcaster and Northeastern alumnus John St. Augustine will be joined by legendary broadcaster Bill Kurtis to deliver the keynote address during the Green Business Conference on April 4. St. Augustine and Kurtis are partners on “Earth Matters,” a series of one-minute vignettes on environmental issues that airs on WCPT-AM/FM in Chicago. The keynote by St. Augustine and Kurtis will focus on issues related to the ripple effect of climate change on water, land and species. It will serve as the latest installment of the NEIU Alumni: All Access series, which demonstrates the lifelong value of a Northeastern degree from the perspective of some of the University’s most successful and inspirational alumni.

Violence Prevention Week

Northeastern will host Enough is Enough, a week of events designed to help people better understand interpersonal violence, what causes people to be bystanders, and how to be an agent of change. Here is the schedule:

  • April 3: Learn about Campus Safety with NEIU Police, 2 p.m. in FA 202
  • April 4: Intimate Partner Violence Panel Discussion with Leah Heinecke-Krumhus, 3 p.m. in SU 214
  • April 5: It's On Us Panel Discussion with Dean of Students, 2 p.m. in SU 216
  • April 6: Processing Anger with Counseling Services, 3 p.m. in FA 203

Mark your calendar!



It's not too soon to congratulate our May graduates or share your own excitement about graduating. Tag your pics and congratulatory messages with ‪#‎NEIUgrad for a chance to be seen on the big screen at the Salute to Graduates event in Alumni Hall! Salute to Graduates runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 5 and 3-7 p.m. April 6.

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Mike Hines, Director of Public Relations,, (773) 442-4240