Freeman’s office hours to promote student dialogue

By Taher Zeitoun

DeKALB — NIU President Lisa Freeman has opened her presidential office to the university community in an effort to connect with students, faculty and staff.

Freeman has already started holding open office hours in the President’s Office, Altgeld Hall 300, and will continue to do so for the rest of the academic year. Interested parties are invited to meet with her for a 15-minute session by filling out a request application online, according to the Office of the President’s website.

Freeman said this is the first time presidential office hours have been offered in her 10 years at NIU.

After becoming president, Freeman said she was looking for a method to stay connected to the campus community, which led her to the idea of open meetings.

Freeman said holding office hours will help her address her presidential goal of increasing transparency within her office.

She said she believes open communication plays an important role in achieving that.

She also said she invites respectful dialogue about NIU and is excited to work with its community members moving forward.

Freeman said the open office hours will allow her to provide university community members a voice in addressing potential issues.

“It provides an opportunity for the president to see things from the perspective of the students, faculty and staff,” Freeman said. “The office hours will also allow the community to understand that their voice matters and hopefully receive help in facilitating solutions to problems or barriers they may face.”

Senior communication major Neveen Sheikhali said Freeman is displaying a level of transparency by holding open office hours.

Sheikhali said she is a member of the Muslim Student Association and believes the open meetings could deliver potential benefits to the organization.

“It’s beneficial for the club to network with her and ask for advice and have the opportunity to invite her to our events,” Sheikhali said. “[It] would allow our organization to build a relationship with her,” Sheikhali said.

Freeman said the reason the form must be filled out in advance is to make sure the problem being addressed is one she, as the president, can solve, rather than another party. She said this screening process allows her to use the right tools to address potential issues before scheduling the meeting.

Junior psychology major Jana Arthur said she will be the president of the NIU softball club next year and she believes Freeman holding open office hours will offer her the chance to discuss issues such as funding for her team.

Arthur said as president of the club, she will have to face budget issues next year and would love to sit with Freeman to address the issue.

“I think it’s awesome to give students the ability to voice their opinion about different issues with someone like Freeman who holds the power to develop to a solution,” Arthur said.