Freeman hosts President’s Holiday Appreciation Gathering for faculty and staff


University faculty and staff enjoyed food and conversation with colleagues Thursday during the President’s Holiday Appreciation Gathering in Altgeld Hall.

By Samanta Echevarria

DeKALB — NIU President Lisa Freeman hosted the President’s Holiday Appreciation Gathering from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday as a way for faculty and staff to bring in the holiday season.

The event was in the Altgeld Hall auditorium and featured music performed by the NIU Jazztet, one of the jazz combos directed by Reggie Thomas.

Representatives from the Huskie Food Pantry and Communiversity Gardens were also in attendance to accept donations and sign up volunteers in the holiday spirit.

University officials authorized an employee release time to allow faculty and staff to attend the holiday open house.

John Heckmann, vice president of facility management and campus services, said the President’s Holiday Appreciation Gathering is a time for colleagues to be together in a work-free environment.

“It’s an opportunity for [Freeman] to show her appreciation for the staff and faculty,” Heckmann said. “That’s an opportunity to bring us together in an environment outside of work.”

Freeman hosted the event last year as well. Heckmann has been to the event in previous years and said he enjoyed it because it provides a great opportunity for him to spend time with his coworkers.

“It’s enjoyable, and we don’t get enough opportunities like that as is to talk about other things,” Heckmann said.

Heckmann said employees don’t always have enough time to get to know one another, and the event provides a chance for colleagues to come together and discuss non-work related topics.

Director of admissions Quinton Clay attended the event for the first time and said he enjoyed the opportunity to converse with his colleagues.

“In the middle of a busy time of year, it’s important to remember you’re working with people who are passionate about their jobs and are all equally challenged and equally busy,” Clay said.

Clay said at this point in the year everyone is stressed, and it’s important to know faculty are all here for the same reasons and share the same passion for what they do.

The event was enjoyed by many workers who were given time out of their schedules to attend the event.

“To be able to take your mind off of work and take an interest in people’s lives, find out what’s important to them, what’s going on to them and remember the things that bind us together as an NIU community, I thought this was just an excellent opportunity,” Clay said.