Dean Rajagopalan’s Spring 2021 Update

From our humble beginnings in the ’60s when NIU created the Department of Business Education to meet the high demand for business knowledge, we have come a long way. At that time, nearly 500 NIU business degrees were awarded. Over time, our curriculum expanded to address student interests, business needs and kept pace with emerging technologies. And as a result, we have graduated over 50,000 students to date.

Despite the exponential growth in the alumni base, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that we formalized our relationship with alumni by creating alumni clubs, establishing the annual alumni luncheon and recognizing alumni for their achievements. Today, we actively invest in our alumni engagement activities early to inspire them to sustain lifelong relationships with us.

We are grateful for our College of Business alumni base who have supported us phenomenally over the years, even through the pandemic. Our alumni and friends have helped us execute our five strategic priorities.

Creating a Culture of Innovation – Maintaining a vibrant institution requires that we continue to innovate and experiment with ideas. Alumni and donors have pledged $750,000 in support of the Creativity Lab in Barsema Hall, and KPMG has invested $500,000 to launch the KPMG Innovation Fund. Programmatic elements of these initiatives will nurture innovation among students, faculty, staff and the broader community around us.

Supporting Distinctive Student Experiences and Career Advancement – A transformative gift of $1 million was pledged by an alumnus to give full-ride scholarships to select accountancy students and to create distinctive student experiences. Several alumni have contributed to support global travel experiences for our students. Approximately eight firms sponsor experiential learning projects over the academic year. The dean’s board of executive advisors contribute to the dean’s strategic fund which supports a range of student experiences including student travel to participate in competitions. A recent pledge of $250,000 supports the launch of a fintech lab, adds Bloomberg terminals and creates additional space for our students. Alumni also give back by sharing personal and professional experiences with students. Both forms of support have enabled our students to complete their degrees and launch their careers.

Supporting Faculty Professional Development and Research Impact – Several professorships and fellowships have been sustained through the generosity of our alumni and our corporate partners. These funds provide additional salary and research support needed to attract, retain and recognize scholarly activity and teaching excellence. Students are the ultimate beneficiaries of this investment as our faculty bring cutting-edge knowledge to the classroom and remain committed to their success.

Enhancing Mission and Market-driven Curriculum and Programmatic Transformation – Alumni have contributed their expertise to make our curriculum relevant to the transformational changes in the industry. Recent changes in our MBA curriculum exemplify how we remain tuned in to industry needs for nurturing leaders of tomorrow. With the help of alumni experts, we designed and launched graduate programs in data analytics and digital marketing. Both programs have shown record growth in the last couple of years.

Creating an Inclusive Community – An annual survey taken by alumni (Poets&Quants) has ranked us third among top business schools in the country for diversity, thus recognizing our reputation for a rich, inclusive teaching environment. We’re launching alumni mentoring programs to support our students, particularly students of color.

While alumni engagement and giving has remained steady for the last several years, increased engagement and support can enhance opportunities for our students and launch their careers for extraordinary success. More support for unrestricted gifts to the College of Business will help us continue to strengthen our reputation and continue our efforts to put us on the national map for social mobility, an index that measures how well we do in changing the lives of those who come from underprivileged backgrounds. Your support can transform the lives of our students.

Thank you for your continued loyalty and support. With your encouragement, the best years for us will always be ahead as we continue to raise the bars of reputation and student success.

With Huskie pride,

Balaji Rajagopalan, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Business


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