UNIVERSITY COUNCIL | Stevens Building to be ‘nearly complete’ in February


University Ombudsperson addresses the University Council Wednesday, discussing the need for better counseling on campus and how her office has tried to help students feeling stress because of recent gun violence.

James Krause

DeKALB — The Office of the Ombudsperson gave a presentation at a University Council meeting Wednesday that discussed ways students and staff can deal with stress and crisis in DeKalb that has resulted from the recent spike in gun violence.

Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper presented ways in which her office has helped students this year as part of their annual report, such as providing “confidential, neutral, informal and independent guidance,” according to the office’s website. The report included data about the issues most discussed by those who visited the office. Klaper encouraged faculty members to be positive influences for themselves and students.

“Just having someone acknowledge them and smile and be pleasant can change the whole world for them,” Klaper said. “We can be that person for students. We can also be that person for each other.”

Klaper discussed meetings with groups of faculty members she had throughout the year about ways to assist students, fellow faculty and community members in dealing with issues in their lives. Klaper said those in attendance to the meetings often say they are very informative.

“People are valuing information they hear,” Klaper said. “Now, if we could all turn around, go back to our offices, and relay that information, that would be awesome.”

Renovation projects making progress

Jim Wilson, Resources, Space and Budget Committee chairman, said construction documents are in the process of being drawn up for the Holmes Student Center renovation. The renovations are projected to cost $20 million, and construction can start as early as this summer, according to an Oct. 11 NIU press release.

Wilson, reporting information conveyed to him by John Heckmann, vice president of Facilities Management and Campus Services, also said the Stevens Building will be “nearly complete” in February, with the structure being ready for move in around the end of the spring semester.

Faculty Advisory Council announces retirement

Paul Stoddard, Faculty Advisory Council to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, announced Wednesday that next month’s meeting will be his final one on the University Council, as he will be retiring at the end of the calendar year.

Stoddard urged those in attendance who are long-standing NIU faculty members to try and take his position, which entails meetings with fellow university Advisory Council members from across the state about issues related to higher education.