SA speaker: Baker ‘true leader’


NIU President Doug Baker speaks during his inauguration ceremony Wednesday in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center. Baker said he plans to create an alumni mentoring program and overhaul the university’s budget.

By James Green & Shaz Sheikhali

NIU President Doug Baker’s inauguration speech on Wednesday inspired local leaders who are looking to see change.

During his address, Baker focused on “four pillars” that will promote university change: student career success, a thriving community, financial and program liability and ethically inspired leadership.

Baker’s proposed changes — like setting up an alumni mentoring program and overhauling the university’s budget — were met with excitement by attendees, who gave a standing ovation at the ceremony’s end.

Deborah Pierce, associate vice president for International Affairs, said she hopes those who attended the inauguration will realize NIU can let go of tradition in order to experiment.

University leaders

Alan Rosenbaum, Faculty Senate president and University Council executive secretary, was impressed by Baker’s enthusiasm and “can-do” attitude at the inauguration.

“You really feel like he’s going to do this,” Rosenbaum said. “What really gets me excited is the idea of realizing the university’s potential and taking it to the next level.”

Rosenbaum believes Baker and the university community can bring positive change to NIU, and he said Baker’s emphasis on bringing the university as a whole into the spotlight and his focus on student career success is particularly notable.

“There isn’t really just one thing that makes students successful; it’s all interwoven and connected. You can’t have student success without strong faculty and support services,” Rosenbaum said. “The president recognizes that everyone in the community is essential, and that we have a lot of wisdom and expertise at NIU already. We all have a part to play in pushing the university forward.”

Pierce believes Baker’s goal of student career success is crucial and worth getting excited for.

“That’s what students come to school for, so that we can help them succeed,” Pierce said. “There’s also his understanding of the ‘ingredients’ for student success, like the global perspectives and 21st century skills.”

Pierce enjoyed the inauguration’s focus on students’ accomplishments.


Baker announced a university-wide goal that students will have a job in their field of interest within six months of graduation.

The speech pleased James Zanayed, Student Association Senate speaker, who believes Baker is a “true leader” who embodies student success. Others agreed.

“[Baker] is a fresh breath of air that NIU needs,” said SA Senator Terry Lesyk. “I love his idea of student success and that the community should be one.”

SA Senator Ben Donovan believes the inauguration showed Baker has “innovative ideas.”

“President Baker outlined a specific plan as well as the method to go through with that plan,” said Mike Theodore, SA chief of staff. “I think a big part of the inauguration was explaining to the university what a degree from NIU would look like in 10 years, and I really do think that it motivates the campus.”