President Emerita Sharon Hahs, Daniel Goodwin, Interim President Richard Helldobler, President Emerita Salme Harju Steinberg and NEIU Foundation Board President John Roskopf

Friday, April 14, 2017

What can $10 million do for Northeastern Illinois University? We’re about to find out.

The University publicly launched the first fundraising campaign in its 150-year history on April 7 with a kickoff event attended by presidents past and present, trustees, students, alumni, faculty, staff, NEIU Foundation Board members and close friends of Northeastern.

“Now, on the eve of our 150th anniversary, we are here to celebrate the light and education that Northeastern Illinois University provides,” Interim President Richard Helldobler said.

Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Northeastern Illinois University centers around two initiatives: Extraordinary Scholarship Support and Exceptional Learning Environments. Through the effort, Northeastern will build strong resources for scholarships and for colleges, departments and programs that are necessary for the future.

During the kickoff event, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Liesl Downey unveiled the campaign’s official website and a video that was narrated by retired WGN TV news anchor and alumnus Robert Jordan (M.A. ’94 Speech).

“There’s not one person in this room who doesn’t believe in the power of this university to change people—to transform lives for the better,” said Downey, who also serves as Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation. “You represent thousands of Northeastern’s biggest fans and supporters.”

While the campaign kickoff was focused on the University’s bright future, NEIU Foundation Board President John Roskopf reflected on past successes, highlighting the fact that the Foundation has doubled its charitable support to Northeastern since 2014, boosted the number of endowed scholarships from 103 to 136 and increased the average scholarship from $990 to $1,065.

Much of that success 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 presented Helldobler with a $500,000 check for the successful first year of the matching challenge.

“I give this check as an expression of my confidence that Northeastern is ready for great things,” Goodwin said. “I am proud of everyone who has contributed. Let’s keep this going.”

Goodwin serves as one of three honorary co-chairs for the campaign, along with Presidents Emerita Salme Harju Steinberg and Sharon Hahs.

“A successful campaign needs a strong body of internal support, alumni, friends, and national recognition for quality academic achievement by faculty and graduates,” said Steinberg, who served as president from 1995 to 2007. “And, we want to make campus visitors stop, notice and wonder as they take in our campus culture and student achievement, our rich diversity among students, faculty and staff, and our overall distinctiveness. We are ready for this campaign. We are already traveling on the road.”

While the campaign was publicly launched on April 7, its roots trace back to 2014, when 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. The goal now is to reach $10 million by the end of 2018.

Transforming Lives is launching as Northeastern and the rest of the state’s public universities approach their second full year without a state appropriation. Helldobler acknowledged the changes in the reliability of state funds but did not shy away from the challenge.

“Now is the ideal time to publicly declare this campaign—when our students, future leaders and taxpayers need it the most,” he said. “Northeastern is the light and education. Our students are the future of this country and the leaders we so desperately need. Yes, Northeastern transforms lives, and it has never been more important than right now to help us continue that work.”

Top photo (from left): President Emerita Sharon Hahs, Daniel Goodwin, Interim President Richard Helldobler, President Emerita Salme Harju Steinberg and NEIU Foundation Board President John Roskopf