Summer Recap

Ron White to perform at Convo Center on Sept. 30

Another Blue Collar comedian is slated to take the stage in DeKalb. It was announced Aug. 1 that Ron White will perform at the Convocation Center on Sept. 30. Larry the Cable Guy entertained DeKalb on Jan. 21. White’s DVD “They Call Me Tater Salad” has sold more than 500,000 copies.

DeKalb to receive $1.4 million for mass transit

On June 22 Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed an amendment to the Downstate Public Transportation Act which promises to bring the DeKalb area $1.4 million for a mass transportation system.

The money was appropriated through legislation that passed the Illinois General Assembly with yes votes from both sides of the partisan aisle.

NIU announces deal with 670 AM The Score

NIU Athletics Director Jim Phillips announced July 14 a four-year agreement with Chicago’s 670 AM The Score. The station will broadcast all NIU football games and 20 men’s basketball games annually through 2008-09. The deal also includes a 30-minute pregame show and a weekly show discussing NIU sports. The Score has a 50,000-watt signal that can be heard in 38 states and four Canadian provinces.

“This is unchartered territory,” Phillips said. “The increased visibility and exposure for our athletic program and our university … is immeasurable.”

NIU duo sees discovery displayed in museum

It took four years, but Mike Henderson and Bill Harrison finally saw their discovery unveiled to the public. The duo helped to unveil Jane, the only complete young Tyrannosaurus Rex in the world, in 2001. The Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford debuted Jane on June 29 in a $1.3-million exhibit. Henderson is curator of earth sciences at the museum and a doctorate student in geology while Harrison is a professor of foreign language.

“I think there’s something special about seeing the real thing.” Henderson said.

Money purchase option no more for state workers

State university employees in Illinois can expect changes in the State University Retirement System under a new law passed in May.

The money purchase option was eliminated for employees hired after July 1 this year. The option often allowed employees to receive increased retirement benefits through a series of formulas which took into account factors such as age, SURS executive director James Hacking said.

“It’s been a beneficial option for a large number of employees,” said Steve Cunningham, associate vice president of human resources. He said 60 percent of employees took advantage of the option.

Board of Trustees gets first woman chair

Barbara Giorgi-Vella took her position as Board of Trustees chair on July for a two-year term. She is the first woman to head the board.

Giorgi-Vella is familiar with NIU and DeKalb, as she earned both master’s and law degrees from NIU. She has served on boards at Saint Anthony Medical Center, the Holy Family Foundation, the Crusader Clinic, the Winnebago County Bar Association and the Rockford Public Library.

“It feels great to represent women through this position,” Giorgi-Vella said. “It’s good that women are becoming more and more visible in politics, law and medicine.”

DeKalb oasis reopens after construction

McDonald’s, Starbucks Coffee and Travel Mart all opened for business at the DeKalb Oasis in July.

The timetable for completion of the second phase of construction at the oasis is still up in the air.

“By late summer, early fall we expect the entire facility to be open,” said Joelle McGinnis, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.

Wilton Partners of California, which is doing the construction, is looking to add more tenants to the oasis.

NIU anthropology group finds rare earring in Sicily

NIU’s anthropology group literally struck gold in Sicily in June.

According to anthropology professor Michael Kolb, who leads trips to the area every year, the group found a Hellenistic Greek gold lion earring dated to third or fourth century B.C.

“It is a production of the Greek colonies of southern Italy,” Kolb said via e-mail. “The condition is quite exceptional, and it is a quite rare piece.”

Math sciences posts private student info online

The NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences had a scare involving students’ Social Security numbers posted online, but university officials were quick to respond after noticing the mistake in May.

In spring 2004, a mathematics department teaching assistant accidentally posted approximately 60 students’ names, homework grades and Social Security numbers on a personal Web site instead of e-mailing the information to themselves, said Melanie Magara, assistant vice president for public affairs.

It took less than two weeks to clear the information once it was discovered.

Attacks in London hit close to home for Study Abroad students

The bombing attacks in London on July 7 which killed more than 50 people struck close to home for NIU students studying abroad.

“My first reaction is exactly what you’d expect – shock, sadness and worry about my friends in London,” said Alexandra Bennett, an assistant professor of English who was teaching in Oxford, England at the time as part of NIU’s Study Abroad Program.

Cavel plant in danger of losing business

The horse-slaughtering plant Cavel International, Inc. in DeKalb would suffer a big hit if John Sweeney gets his way.

Sweeney, a New York Republican, was successful in passing an amendment to the House Agriculture Appropriations bill that would result in horse meat not being able to be sold for human consumption.

The bill has moved on to the Senate.

Rates for Stafford student loans rise 2 percent

Students taking out loans will be paying more interest after Stafford loan rates rose July 1 by nearly 2 percent.

The new rate for Stafford loans is 4.7 percent for borrowers who are still in school and 5.3 percent for those in the repayment phase.

A 1-percentage point increase can add $2,500 to the 20-year cost of a $20,000 loan, according to an MSN report.

NIU football team to take on Ohio State in 2006

NIU Athletics Director Jim Phillips announced May 16 that the Huskies will face Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State on Sept. 2, 2006. The Huskies will also play Tennessee in 2006 and Iowa and Purdue in 2009.

Fire damages lab in engineering building

An electrical fire damaged a laboratory in the Engineering and Engineering Technology building May 21.

Water and fire damage was limited to the loss of the Indium Tin Oxide Deposition system equipment.

Damage was estimated to be $1.5 million, but the cost may be considerably less, said Joe King, assistant director of public affairs.

Lack of rain takes toll on corn in DeKalb County

DeKalb County suffered one of its driest spells this summer.

Mariam Wassmann, director of information at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture, said the area hadn’t seen anything like it since 1988.

The drought took its toll on the fields of corn in the area.

“Our area provides a great deal of corn to other areas around the country and under-developed corn affects the economy,” Wassmann said.