Students: Embrace Baker’s vision

By Bob Brigham Jr.

I have lived in DeKalb since 1957; my wife Alina and I have three young children, care deeply about DeKalb and, of course, NIU.

My father Bob Sr. was NIU’s athletic director for many years and my mother Gertrude taught girls physical education at DeKalb High School for more years than either one of us would care to remember. Both of my parents graduated from NIU and our family’s love for the university extends well past the Athletic Department to all aspects of education in different departments.

We have great pride and respect for the faculty, staff and students that comprise the excellent colleges that make the university what it is today. Even more impressive are the alumni who have made major contributions throughout the world.

Through my father, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at length and candidly with all NIU’s president’s dating back to Rhoten Smith in the late 1960’s. One of the university’s finest presidents was William Monat and he was truly special and regarded by everyone as a total winner. Prior to the arrival of Doug Baker in August 2013, the thought of sharing ideas on how we might build a better relationship with the community and addressing the concerns of the students and citizens of DeKalb just was not possible.

I admired the previous university president — John Peters — and the Board of Regents, but they had very little latitude to affect change. The good news is there is a new administration and the roadblocks the previous administration faced for years have been removed and are no longer a hindrance or detriment.

A little over a year ago when the announcement was made that Baker had been hired as the new president, a line from The Who’s song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” came to mind: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Thirteen months have passed and I truly believe the new boss ain’t the same as the old boss!

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with Baker and key people in his administration on multiple occasions. The conversations have been the polar opposite of past experiences and they are taking impressive steps to make the experience for the students and community the best we’ve ever seen.

I hope all of us in DeKalb can continue and embrace Baker and his team’s efforts in building a special bond between NIU’s students, employees and the surrounding community.