Dreessen: ‘poor judgment’ to have students paint her home


Angela Dreessen is the subject after controversy after the director of student involvement and leadership development sent a group of NIU Cares Day volunteers to paint her house.

By Matt Liparota

DeKALB | Angela Dreessen, an NIU director who oversees NIU Cares Day, said it was “poor judgment” to have students paint her home, 918 Dawn Court, during last year’s event.

Dreessen is the director of the department of Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD).

“If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t do it again,” Dreessen said in a Saturday Chicago Tribune article.

Dreessen told the Northern Star on Wednesday that for 2010, there was a “surge in volunteers” and that the program “needed sites.” She said that her staff was worried about running out of projects for the 2,000 student volunteers. She said staff considered painting to be a community service project because her neighborhood was flooded two years earlier.

Dreessen said she paid for all supplies used for work in the area; $630 was spent in total, according to the Tribune article. In 2010, however, NIU Cares Day provided transportation, lunch and T-shirts to participants, all of which is paid for by NIU.

Dreessen told the Star she went to 10 houses in her neighborhood. Of those 10, only two showed interest.

“Paperwork has to be completed,” Dreessen said. “There were two other houses that were willing to participate.”

Logistically, for a location to be viable for work, a number of sites in that area need to participate, Dreesen said.

Dreessen told the Tribune that her staff suggested having the students paint the outside of her house; however, in an interview with the Star on Wednesday, Dreessen said that she volunteered her home when only two houses in her neighborhood showed interest.

“I didn’t want those houses to miss out after they agreed to participate,” Dreessen said. Dreessen said her area “floods regularly” and that NIU had looked into the possibility “of doing flood education for [the] area.”

According to a list of 2010 NIU Cares Day worksites, Dreessen’s home was painted. One other home had lawn work done and another had students “digging trenches for flood prevention.” Each home is listed as a “flood victim.”

The university announced Friday that Dreessen will be reassigned to a different position; she will oversee the department of Commuter and Non-Traditional Student Services.

Brian Hemphill, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said Dreessen’s position change is unrelated to the work done on her home. Hemphill also told the Tribune that in the future, homes of NIU employees will not be included in the event.

“It was a clear lapse in judgment and something we have dealt with already,” Hemphill told the Tribune.

In her position as SILD director. Dreessen makes over $70,000 a year. The current director of Commuter and Non-Traditional Student Services, Jill Zambito, makes just under $29,000 a year.

Student fees largely pay for NIU Cares Day, which costs around $20,000. As of press time, it was unknown whether Dreessen would be required to take a pay cut or if she would be allowed to keep her current salary. It was also unknown what role, if any, Zambito will play in the university.

Hemphill declined to comment to the Northern Star as of press time.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.