Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Debra Hopkins
Debra Hopkins

Julia Lamb
Julia Lamb

Steve Lux
Steve Lux

Blanche McHugh
Blanche McHugh

To obtain a print-quality JPEG of this photo, contact the Office of Public Affairs at (815) 753-1681 or e-mail

News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

March 27, 2007

NIU honors four Supportive Professional Staff
with Presidential Awards for Excellence

DeKalb — Four members of the Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) have been chosen to receive the university’s Presidential Awards for Excellence.

The recipients are Debra R. Hopkins, director of the NIU CPA Review; Julia S. Lamb, outreach coordinator for the NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies; Steven E. Lux, health educator in Health Enhancement; and Blanche McHugh, associate director for residential administration in Housing and Dining.

They will be honored at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in the Clara Sperling Sky Room in the Holmes Student Center. The awards ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m. Each will receive a plaque and $1,500 in appreciation for their outstanding contributions to NIU.

Elizabeth Leake of Information Technology Services will receive the SPS Council Service Award.

Refreshments will be served, and the reception is open to all.

Debra Hopkins
Director, NIU CPA Review

It figures Debra Hopkins would add another honor to her ledger.

Hopkins has directed NIU’s CPA Review Program since 1991. During that time, the program has grown to serve more than 1,200 aspiring accountants each year.

She transformed the review to reflect changes in the CPA exam from a paper exam to an on-demand computer based test. She is the primary instructor of the auditing section, which has placed in the top five national pass rates for 16 of the last 30 CPA exams, more than any other U.S. university.

Meanwhile, she’s authored two books and taught international accounting standards. She provides professional training for public accounting firms and corporate finance officers. She serves on the board of directors and audit committee of the National Bank & Trust Company.

“Debra is truly a teacher’s teacher,” said Pamela Smith, KMPG Professor of Accountancy at NIU. “Her teaching style stems from her passion for the accountancy profession and her desire to share her extensive knowledge with others.”

Hopkins, who joined NIU in 1987, was among last year’s 25 “Amazing Women.” In 2005, she won the AICPA “Women to Watch” award. Her public service includes the Illinois CPA Society, a 23,000-member accounting organization, where she will chair the board of directors next year.

Julia Lamb
Outreach Coordinator, Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Educators at some of the nation’s top universities probably wish they could clone Julia Lamb.

Instead, they’re collaborating in an attempt to copy some of her most successful programs at NIU’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

As the center’s outreach coordinator, Lamb coordinates Southeast Asia programs with faculty, staff, students, guests and other NIU programs, centers and colleges. She recruits students into the Southeast Asia minor and the graduate concentration. She provides resources on Southeast Asia. She helps to design and edit the annual newsletter.

Her work includes maintenance of budgets, reports and Web pages related to Southeast Asia outreach programs, development and implementation of conferences, workshops and programs, and evaluation of Southeast Asia resource materials.

She played an instrumental role in the International Ramayana Conference and Fair at NIU, and annually recruits host families for Philippine youth who come to campus for an intensive one-month seminar on conflict resolution, volunteerism and diversity in American society.

An external evaluator who analyzed CSEAS last year praised Lamb, who joined NIU in 1997, for helping “to build easily the best Southeast Asia outreach effort in the U.S.”

“Ms. Lamb and other non-academic staff are the glue that hold complex operations together,” the evaluator wrote. “Dangerously, they are also easy to take for granted.”

Steve Lux
Health educator

College is when many young people experience new things, some that are decidedly non-academic. Steve Lux is here to make sure those “extracurriculars” don’t cause unintended – and unhealthy – consequences.

Lux, who came to NIU in 1982, is a pioneer in the college health field. Since he helped to establish Health Enhancement Services, his leadership in creating and implementing innovative, collaborative programs and services has placed him on the cutting edge.

His 1992 sabbatical culminated in an Internet-based health promotion listserv discussion group, facilitating communication among 1,500 health educators nationwide.

He oversaw the development of one of the most extensive condom availability programs on a college campus. His work to promote safer sex and reduce sexual health risks has helped reduce the numbers of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies at NIU.

A fellow of the American College Health Association, he was on the team responsible for a social marketing campaign to reduce alcohol-related harm to students.

“Steve exhibits a strong desire and ability to be involved in health promotion and disease promotion activities that are data-driven and student-centered,” wrote Amy Franklin and Mary Strohm, both of the NIU Division of Student Affairs. “He is unwavering in his commitment to utilize limited resources to provide the most effective student health promotion interventions possible.”

Blanche McHugh
Associate Director for Residential Administration

Blanche McHugh is someone who has made sure that NIU students living in the residence halls are learning there as well.

McHugh, who came to NIU in 1975, has a “nearly legendary” skill as a trainer for the many young professional and undergraduate staff members who succeed as leaders in the residence halls.

During the past decade, she played a vital role in shaping the evolution of the Academic Residential Program in the halls. In addition to chairing monthly planning meetings, she assisted house coordinators in developing the paraprofessional house leader positions and program-specific learning opportunities for residents.

She’s an integral member of the Northern View Community planning team, and in her current role as associate director for administration oversees the marketing, contracts and assignments and summer conference initiatives for more than 6,000 residents and thousands of conference delegates.

McHugh also is known as the lead author of a $400,000 Department of Justice grant that allowed NIU to develop an Interpersonal Violence Response Team, a frequent presenter at national conferences and a member of last year’s “25 Amazing Women.”

“Blanche McHugh understands what it means to connect a student’s in- and out-of-classroom experiences,” said Michael Stang, director of residential facilities and operations. “Her work has improved the lives of countless students.”

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