Professors grow marriage at NIU

By Sam Malone

DeKALB | Eighteen years ago, two young professors were introduced through a mutual friend in Elgin; shortly after, they fell in love with each other and with NIU, where they now teach.

Lady and James Cohen have been married for 16 years, and although they didn’t meet at NIU, they both agreed that working as professors at the same university has fostered their relationship and helped them grow as a couple. The university has helped shape the Cohen’s relationship and allowed them to grow as a couple and a family.

For James, assistant professor for literacy and elementary education in the College of Education, being able to see his wife work in different situations on campus and help others learn has increased his respect for her.

“I wrote a grant called ‘Go Teacher,’ and for seven months, we had 37 teachers from Ecuador here studying English and improving their teaching skills, and Lady was the cultural liaison,” James said. “I think that really brought us together, because I always respected Lady, but to see her in charge of all these people, I was really amazed. I was really impressed to see [her] take control of the situation. I was very proud to be her husband.”

When James began working at NIU six years ago, Lady, a foreign language and literature instructor, was not working at the university.

They would each leave for work as early as 5 a.m. and go most of the day without seeing one another. Lady said this was difficult, and she prefers working at the same institution as James because it brings them closer.

Now that Lady and James both work at NIU, the couple often carpools to work, and they will sometimes meet for lunch on campus. Lady said working with her husband is convenient and has brought them closer, even though they work in different departments.

“No matter what, [we] have to deal with both departments,” Lady said. “So we have to work separate but at the same time together, [and] that’s something that we need to be conscious of.”

Despite working at the same institution, James said it isn’t always easy to spend time with Lady on campus. However, this is something that they hope to improve.

“Occasionally we will get lunch together or something, but usually our heads are in our books,” James said. “We haven’t really taken advantage of [NIU’s] events. We actually want to get more involved in the events the university provides. It would help our being a couple; it would help our marriage; it would also help us to have more fun together.”

James said he loves working at NIU because he receives all the support he needs from coworkers and his wife.

“I think it has shaped us for the better,” Lady said. “Before, it was difficult because we were working in different schools. Here, we get to do things together, and in one way or another, being in the same place, the same university, facilitates our relationship and makes us become a better couple.”