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Contact: Melanie Magara, Office of Public Affairs
January 16, 2008
DeKalb – John R. Butler, founding partner in the Chicago-based strategic consulting firm Butler-Anderson, LLC and holder of two NIU degrees, has been appointed to the governing board of his alma mater.
Butler, 38, brings a long history of NIU involvement to his new role on the university’s Board of Trustees: He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern; served two terms as Student Regent under NIU’s previous governing body, the Board of Regents; and spent seven years as an assistant professor and Director of Forensics in NIU’s Department of Communication.
“We are delighted to welcome John back to NIU in this important role,” said President John Peters. “He is a passionate advocate for students and for programs that strengthen NIU’s teaching and learning environment. His experience in public higher education and professional work in organizational advocacy will serve NIU very well at a critical time in our university’s history.”
Butler earned a bachelor’s in Political Science with a minor in Black Studies and master’s in Rhetorical Studies, both from NIU. He went on to earn his doctorate in Rhetoric and Communication with an emphasis in Public Argument at the University of Pittsburgh. His current work focuses on strategic planning and advocacy for large, multi-employer organizations such as labor unions, contractor associations, benefit funds and apprenticeship programs.
“I am very grateful to be so welcomed by my fellow Board members and President Peters, and excited about the opportunity to use my background and skills in support of my alma mater,” said Butler.
Butler said he is very interested in and encouraged by NIU’s strategic planning process – particularly in its emphasis on teaching and learning. “Our students expect excellent teaching, and, as a former student and faculty member at NIU, I understand this expectation and the challenges faculty members face when striving to provide the best they have to offer,” he said.
“Encouraging quality interaction among students and between professors and students requires ongoing dialogue about the nature of high quality learning, and how students and professors can maximize the potential of curricular and co-curricular strategies for learning.”
Butler is equally passionate about diversity as a core institutional value: While serving as Student Regent in the early 1990s, he spearheaded efforts to infuse the undergraduate curriculum with broader perspectives. Among the results of that campaign is NIU’s Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, a program that celebrated its 14th year in 2007.
“I am a person who believes that culture matters – that race matters, that national origin matters, that gender and sexual orientation matter – and NIU has distinguished itself by endeavoring to talk about these issues in and out of the classroom, and working to make all people feel welcome on the NIU campus,” he said.
To that end, Butler also helped lead a campaign in the late-1990s that called on the City of DeKalb to end housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and later gender identity. The City’s Human Rights Commission ultimately adopted such changes to their ordinance – a move that helped NIU win national recognition in 2006 as one of the country’s most welcoming universities for gay and lesbian students.
“Public universities play such an important role in our society,” Butler said. “People look to institutions of higher education for leadership on a wide range of issues, and NIU has always accepted that responsibility in a very forward-thinking way. It is one of the many reasons I feel so honored by this appointment, and I pledge to do my best to uphold that tradition.”
Editor’s note: Trustee Butler’s resume may be found on the NIU Board of Trustees website at http://www.niu.edu/board/trustees/.