Henry Durward Hofler, who taught at Northeastern Illinois University for more than 30 years and helped create the College of Business and Technology’s (CBT) annual student-run International Business Conference, died on Feb. 19, 2022. He was 83 years old.
He is survived by his loving wife Carol, son Drew (Tina), grandchildren Tirzah and J.D; step-daughter Karen (Steve) Schwabe, grandchild Michael; and step-daughter Christine (Mark) Krause. A celebration of life will be held at a future date.
“Northeastern’s International Business Conference is the largest conference of its kind planned and organized by students in Chicago,” Northeastern Illinois University President Gloria J. Gibson said. “The fact that Dr. Hofler saw the potential of such an idea, which was brought to him by a student, and was willing to help the conference not just become a reality, but help it continue to grow and inspire future generations of Northeastern students speaks to his character and commitment to higher education. I extend my sincere condolences to the family of Dr. Hofler.”
Hofler was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1938. He earned a Ph.D. in Church Administration of Organization Theory in 1972 from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He served as a pastor for three churches in Mars Hill, North Carolina, before pastoring Bethel United Methodist Church in Chicago from 1973-1975. Prior to his service at Northeastern, Hofler was an adjunct professor at Northwestern University.
Hofler joined the faculty of Northeastern’s Department of Management & Marketing in 1979. In 2002, College of Business and Management (now CBT) student Lukasz Dobrzynski attended a business conference in his native country of Poland. Dobrzynski was inspired to create a similar conference at NEIU. With the help of Hofler, who served as the faculty advisor for the conference, Northeastern’s International Business Conference was born. Though Hofler retired in 2007 and was awarded the honor of Professor Emeritus of Management and Marketing, he continued to serve as the advisor for the Conference until 2017.
Professor and Department Chair of Management and Marketing Jian Li noted that Hofler teaching was not just about getting students to succeed in his classes, but also getting them to be able to apply that knowledge in concrete ways outside of the classroom.
“Dr. Hofler really bonded with his students,” Li said. “After his retirement, I saw him numerous times on campus, and sometimes I asked him if he’s really retired! He was smart and insightful, and would always sincerely share his analysis of matters under discussion. He also liked to share his teaching methods and past stories with me in personal conversations. He came to campus regularly to meet and work with faculty and students because he cared so deeply. Dr. Hofler will be missed and remembered fondly by me and so many at NEIU.”
Hofler established two endowments within the NEIU Foundation: the Dr. Durward Hofler Scholarship for the College of Business and Management and the Carol and Durward Hofler International Business Conference Fund. In lieu of flowers, Durward’s wishes were that memorial donations be contributed to the Dr. Durward Hofler Scholarship Fund.
To contribute to the fund online, please visit Northeastern’s giving page. Select “Other” from the dropdown menu, and type "Durward Hofler Scholarship Fund" as the designation. Contributions can also be made via check by mail, payable to the NEIU Foundation, 5500 North St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60625. Please write “Durward Hofler Scholarship Fund” in the memo line.
Per his obituary, video clips in memory for Hofler’s memorial service are being collected. Those who wish to contribute may send their clip to firstname.lastname@example.org.