Cook honored with Presidential Award of Excellence


Margie Cook is one of four Supportive Professional Staff members being honored with a Presidential Award of Excellence this month at NIU.

“It is very humbling to be honored by your peers,” Cook said.

Along with the award, all the recipients are given $1,500. As for Cook’s cash award, she does not know what to do with it yet.

Cook, a 1987 NIU graduate, has worked for NIU for 14 years and has been the Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center since its establishment in 2003.

“I never could have imagined doing the job I do now,” Cook said. “This is a fairly new field.”

Cook has worked to quell sexual discrimination on campus for years, a task that she says has been a slow one.

“NIU has come a far way addressing the issues brought up in the ‘90s,” Cook said. “We’ve made slow and steady progress, but there’s still work to do.”

Of the work she has done for the LGBT Resource Center, she believes her most notable accomplishment has been the creation of the Ally program. The program allows for LGBT supporters to help in creating a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT people and integrating them into campus activities. The program has gained the participation of about 250 people.

When the tragedy of Feb. 14 struck, Cook also lent her assistance in helping the campus. She worked as a liaison to one of the injured students in Kishwaukee Community Hospital, helping him with anything he needed.

Cook was also tapped by the NIU administration to deal with the Westboro Baptist Church’s presence on campus when they came to protest NIU’s memorial service. Despite Westboro’s confrontational nature, Cook believed the situation turned out well.

Currently, Cook is looking to expand the use of technology and implement a leadership program for the LGBT Resource Center, a program focusing on students to develop leadership qualities and expand their knowledge of LGBT and their identities.

Patricia Liberty-Baczek, an office assistant who has worked for Cook and LGBT for three years, holds a very high opinion of Cook.

“I admire the work she does,” Liberty-Baczek said. “It’s very important for the university and for the students and I am thrilled and honored to work for her in this department.”

Cook also acts as adviser to the student organization Prism, for which co-president of Prism and junior media studies major, Hillary Kowalski, said Cook has been a great help.

“She has helped a great deal in assisting the needs of the organization, whether it be from monetary concerns to drawing in more members from the community by co-sponsoring social and educational events with the LGBT Resource Center,” Kowalski said.

For many years Cook has worked for NIU and she does not intend to go anywhere else.

“I work with a lot of wonderful people and that’s what makes this a wonderful place,” Cook said. “It has become home to me and I hope to continue to build this program.”

The Northern Star will feature an NIU staff member each Tuesday, with the first four being the recipients of the Presidential Award of Excellence. To submit a teacher or staff member feature request, e-mail