December 18, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University is tapping Lisa C. Freeman of Kansas State University—a highly accomplished teacher, scientist and administrator with a strong record of attracting external funding and building collaborations—to become the new Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.
NIU President John Peters announced today that he will recommend her appointment, which is expected to win formal approval from the NIU Board of Trustees at its Feb. 25 meeting.
Freeman, a professor of pharmacology, has spent the past 15 years of her career at K-State, where she currently serves as Associate Vice President for Innovation at the Olathe Innovation Campus. She will begin work in her NIU post, which includes a tenured appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences, on July 1.
The position of vice president for research and graduate studies was previously filled by Rathindra Bose, who left NIU in 2008. Distinguished Research Professor James Erman has served in the post during the interim.
Freeman's appointment follows a national search authorized in 2008 and officially started this past summer.
“We’re delighted and thrilled to welcome Lisa Freeman to campus,” President Peters said. “Dr. Freeman will be an excellent addition to NIU's senior leadership team. She has a strong record of successfully working with students, faculty, government and industry, and will be a tremendous asset to our graduate studies and research programs. She will provide the vision and leadership for our expanding research and development, technology transfer and commercialization activities.”
Provost Raymond Alden, who led the search, said NIU landed its top selection.
“We had a number of impressive applicants, including three highly qualified finalists, but the search committee and all of our constituencies selected Lisa Freeman as the top candidate,” Alden said. “Dr. Freeman is energetic and intelligent, and she possesses the interpersonal skills and the experience that we were seeking.
“Over the past decade, Dr. Freeman has succeeded in positions with increasing amounts of administrative responsibility at the college and university levels,” he added. “She also is experienced at working with outside agencies on economic development.”
At K-State, Freeman currently is responsible for building public-private partnerships relevant to teaching, research and outreach activities at the Olathe Innovation Campus, which is being developed to focus on commercially viable applied research and technology discovery. She also serves as liaison between the campus and the academic units and research centers on the K-State Manhattan campus.
“As I started to investigate Northern Illinois University, I went from intrigued to impressed, especially with the university's potential to advance research,” Freeman said.
“I was thrilled to see NIU’s commitment to student engagement in research and to the promotion of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, areas that I have championed throughout my career,” she added. “I was impressed with campus leaders, faculty and students as well. I think NIU is a great fit, and I’m just really excited about this opportunity.”
Freeman's career has focused on bringing people and resources together to solve complex problems.
She currently co-directs two interdisciplinary projects that are focused on strengthening the public health workforce: the One Health Kansas initiative, funded by the Kansas Health Foundation, and the Pathways to Public Health Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The programs involve collaborations between K-State colleges and campuses, public health associations and state agencies.
“I think there is a lot of potential to build public health collaborations in northern Illinois, too,” Freeman said. “I’m accustomed to working with state agencies and regional industry, and I’m very excited about the potential for collaborations in Rockford and in the Interstate-88 high tech corridor. NIU also has outstanding collaborations with its nearby federal research laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, providing a great foundation for the future.”
Prior to her present position at K-State, Freeman served for three years as associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She played a significant role in a successful campaign to attract the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to a site on the K-State campus. She also guided strategic investment in faculty research efforts through management of the college's research budget. During her tenure in the dean's office, new extramural awards more than doubled.
In 2004-05, Freeman served as a fellow of the American Council on Education (ACE) at the University of Buffalo, where she participated in strategic planning for the Office of Vice President for Research. The ACE Fellows Program is the nation's premier higher education leadership development program in preparing senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.
“I’m collaborative and transparent, and I make data-guided decisions,” Freeman said. “In my academic experience, sustainable research excellence is achievable with a shared commitment to faculty success and a thoughtful investment of institutional resources in research and training activities.
“A research environment that facilitates faculty success contributes significantly to the undergraduate and graduate student experience by attracting and energizing faculty members dedicated to meaningful, engaged learning,” she added. “Promoting student success through the integration of research and education has been a passion throughout my academic career.”
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Freeman earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate of veterinary medicine, all from Cornell University. She went on to earn a doctorate in pharmacology at Ohio State University. Prior to arriving at K-State, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
Freeman joined K-State in 1994, teaching courses in pharmacology and in how to responsibly conduct research. She also has served as a research mentor and role model for numerous postdoctoral students, clinical residents and young faculty members. From 2001 to 2005, she served as director of mentored training in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Freeman’s research interests include the role of ion channels in the development of diseases such as gastrointestinal ulcers and ovarian cancer. She has written more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, invited reviews and book chapters, and has been an invited guest presenter at research venues worldwide.
Her work has resulted in a number of awards and recognitions. In 2002, the Association for Women Veterinarians selected her as the 2002 Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year. In 2008, she received the Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring from the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, recognizing excellence in mentoring of tenure-track faculty.
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Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs