Henley to focus on quality of life

By Katrina Kelly

As acting vice president for student affairs, Barbara Henley wants to “broaden the thinking” of the NIU community.

As Henley steps into the position vacated this week by student affairs vice president Jon Dalton, she outlined four major areas on which she will focus. First on Henley’s list is continuing to improve the quality of student life at NIU, she said.

Workshops on study skills and leadership are examples of student programs and services that Henley said she would like to continue to “help to develop the whole person academically, personally, socially, culturally and physically.”

A second item on Henley’s agenda includes the celebration of NIU’s racial and cultural diversity through Unity Through Diversity week, which is slated for Sept. 25 to Oct. 1. Henley also will lead an NIU conference on campus racial discrimination scheduled for Oct. 28, which will include campus leaders from across the Midwest, she said.

Henley, who commutes daily to NIU from an apartment on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, said her permanent place of residence will not affect her ability to fulfill her duties as acting student affairs vice president. “I will be assisted by many capable professionals who are members of the Division of Student Affairs,” she said.

Henley’s goals also include easing cramped space in student services offices and helping NIU’s efforts at student assessment. The retention of students at NIU, and minority students in particular, is a major concern, she said.

NIU has expressed an “open commitment” to the retention of minority students, she said, adding that “environmental issues” often contribute to minority students feeling unwelcome on campus. “If the university’s surrounding community does not provide the kinds of cultural, social and spiritual experiences needed by most minorities, (NIU’s flexibility in encompassing minority students) becomes even more important,” she said.