Bold Futures gathers input


Students, staff and professors formulated ideas and solutions to campus topics, including student retention, research and technology Wednesday, during the Bold Futures Workshop in the Holmes Student Center’s Heritage Room.

By Rachel Scaman

The Bold Futures Workshop series has finished its sixth four-hour workshop, but is still gathering feedback from participants.

The series provides a way to connect students, faculty, alumni and community members in an effort to improve NIU and DeKalb. There were 10 workshops this month, and there are only four left.

Ron Walters, a consultant to NIU President Doug Baker, who launched the series, said they have been working on the series since mid-September.

“In the process of doing the work that we have done, we recognize that there’s this huge opportunity to really connect people in a very collaborative way and to unleash the potential of people at the university,” Walters said.

Walters said the workshops aren’t about a conclusion but an initiation.

“We’re getting people to recognize that while there’s certain innovation and change that can be driven at the presidential level, there’s a lot more that can be driven when we engage all 25,000 students, faculty and staff,” Walters said. “[It will be] even better when we start to bring in some of our 220,000 alums and other people in the community that have a real interest in NIU.”

Walters said he wants to have a real collaborative culture.

“I want people to be engaged and to really believe that NIU is bigger than our region, and I want to achieve President Baker’s keystone goal of student career success,” he said.

Connecting with more people will broaden the university’s perspective and opportunities to get engaged in new ways, Walters said.

“What happens in these workshops is a huge amount of connection,” Walters said. “There are people who are meeting for the first time and sharing their point of views, and a lot of people are surprised at what they hear and what the other perspectives are.”

Rico Ramos, junior business administration major, said the workshops give students an opportunity to have a voice.

“One big thing I would like to see is people standing up for diversity,” Ramos said. “As a Latino myself I would like to see NIU more diverse than it is now.”

Elizabeth Wright, administrative assistant in Research and Graduate Studies, said students and staff don’t always get to have everyday interaction.

“I think the workshops benefit students and staff because it’s a place for them to network and engage with people that are not in their normal group,” Wright said. “Maybe students don’t understand how much the faculty and staff really care about the students, and maybe the faculty and staff really don’t understand how invested the students are.”

Wright said she wishes to see the university grow and become the best it can be.

“I think NIU is a great place, and I think we have a lot of great, strong points,” Wright said. “I think under this new administration we can move forward and … we can get the word out that NIU is a top school.”