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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star



New Greek Life Center approved for Annie Glidden neighborhood

In Fall 2021 Greek and non-affiliated NIU students tailgate outside the Huskie Stadium for a football game. NIU has seen Greek involvement decline sharply since its peak in the 1990s, with less than 700 Greek members reported in the 2020-2021 academic year. (Northern Star File Photo)

DeKALB NIU has finally entered the approval stages of building its first Greek Life Center in the Annie Glidden neighborhood near Greek Row.

The city approved a redevelopment agreement at the July 10 DeKalb City Council meeting which was the first steps to claim the 4.87-acre property and begin building the proposed center.

NIU has been a contender for the space since the city opened up proposals in January for the vacant lot between the intersection of W. Hillcrest Drive and Blackhawk known as the “L”.

The university was approved with the unanimous 7-0 vote from the council, with the absence of 3rd ward alderman Tracy Smith, after discussion and hearing of public comment.

Matt Streb, chief strategy officer and liaison for the Board of Trustees, was eager to announce NIU’s plans for the multi-year $500 million campaign that would fund the projected $5 million to $7 million center.

“It will be the largest privately funded project that we have had in our 128-year history only behind Barsema Hall,” Streb said. “So much so that we are getting ready to launch a $500 million campaign, and we have chosen to make the Greek Life Center a central part of that campaign.”

With the recency of the project, no timeline has been determined for the building’s creation, though Clint-Michael Reneau, vice president for student affairs, said the university’s next steps will include buying the space including an initial payment of $200,000 to submit an expression of interest for the property.

“We will be working with our (NIU) foundation to purchase the land, and then begins the real work of raising the funds, raising the concept, plopping the concept, building, identifying donors and then constructing the building,” Reneau said.

Streb said in an email that more about the $500 million campaign will be announced once the NIU Foundation establishes the campaign’s priorities which Streb says will likely be announced in the Fall.


With the center’s aim to “serve as the focus of student life and activity for Greek students,” the center was designed with social and academic concentration centered around a need for meeting spaces and to bolster connections amongst students.

In asking for proposals, the city required a range of commercial and recreational uses that aligned with the collected needs of local residents from the Annie Glidden neighborhood.

These included amenities such as a working kitchen, expandable conference rooms with the intended usage by Greek representatives or not-for-profit organizations and a monitored recreational space for neighborhood children and various others. 

The center would combat the lack of a central meeting place for Greek students with several meeting spaces that would be able to hold 12 to 15-person conferences. 

Study zones and a specified tutoring/counseling space would be allotted for studying and Greek members to help tutor local students, said Reneau.

“We’re really hoping that this will be an opportunity for philanthropy efforts within the community,” Reneau said. “So, when this is built, maybe we have tutoring sessions for students and in schools nearby where students can tutor, or maybe we’re doing Halloween events for the neighborhood or we’re doing different types of food drives.”

When the center is completed, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life will move to the center, allowing Greek students to better access the fraternity and sorority staff.

More specifically, each of the four Greek councils, the Interfraternity Council, The Multicultural Greek Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Panhellenic Council will have their own office and conference spaces. None of the councils have had a designated meeting space before.

Besides the academic space, the building will be a central spot for Greek events with a combined over 7,000 square foot indoor event space and outdoor private courtyard.

“Programming has skyrocketed within the HSC (Holmes Student Center). I think school hasn’t even started yet and we’ve already gotten 93 event requests for like the first month,” Reneau said. “And so at a certain point, you will be likely to see Greek-emphasis programming coming out of this building.”

Reneau expects NIU will change their Huskie bus routes to accommodate the immense volume of people for the Annie Glidden neighborhood with the center expected to be another local social and study lounge location at NIU.

Even with the overwhelmingly “Greek” focus, the center will be open to all NIU students and staff and the DeKalb community.

“It would be just like any of our centers on campus – open to students,” Reneau said.

Almost 800 fraternity and sorority events were hosted in 2022, so the event space would create a centralized area for celebrations and community events throughout the Greek community.


In the meantime, Reneau will be creating a project implementation team consisting of NIU staff and students to provide feedback throughout the project’s construction to stay focused on the mission of the center.

“There’ll be folks from administration and finance for the construction pieces, there’ll be folks from the NIU foundation, there’ll be folks from student affairs, there’ll be folks from the president’s office, there’ll be different folks from different areas,” Reneau said.

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