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Distinguished Alumnus

Howard Blietz

B.S. Computer Science, 1980

Howard Blietz

While many alumni leave NIU behind when they graduate, Howard Blietz exemplifies what it is to be a continuing member of the university community. As a student, he was very active on campus. After graduation, Howard became a respected member of the NIU Alumni Association, where he served as a member of the board of directors, president, and immediate past president. Under Howard’s guidance, the Alumni Association staff grew from four to seven members, and the Association revised its bylaws, adjusted its tax status, and increased its revenue. As immediate past president, Howard dedicated his time to growing affinity programming and establishing stronger connections between alumni and students. 

Howard later became an integral part of the computer science department by becoming one of the early members of the board of the Computer Science Alumni Council (CSAC), the first departmental affinity group to be formed under the NIU Alumni Association. As a continuing board member, he presents for the Student Chapter of the Association for Computer Machinery, and each year he staffs the computer science table in the Alumni Association’s Homecoming tent.

In addition to his work with the association, Howard continues to be a generous donor, sponsor, and season ticket holder. He supports student participation in educational events, including the 2010 Illinois Technology Association Fall Challenge where he helped successfully advocate for NIU’s inclusion. After being allowed to compete, NIU had the most students placing in the top ten with NIU students taking second, third, and fifth places. Because of this success, NIU was subsequently accepted to compete against other high-ranking Illinois universities on a yearly basis.

 Beyond NIU, Howard has enjoyed tremendous success in his career. He spent nearly 30 years in the information services industry, 23 of which were spent founding and growing Greenbrier & Russel, Inc., which was named for the DeKalb street corner on which the company’s founders lived while attending NIU. The company grew from a startup to a leading IT services company with more than 700 employees, nine offices, and 17 training centers. Greenbrier & Russel had a reputation for quality, professionalism, and customer satisfaction. Howard attributes much of this success to the hire of NIU graduates. The firm was purchased by Fujitsu in 2006.

After helping with the transition and reorganization as senior Vice President in charge of the Microsoft practice with Fujitsu, Howard left to found Motus Digital, LLC, an animation studio that provides motion capture animation services for commercials, film, mobile media, music videos, and video games. In addition, Motus recently announced its development of a new animation technique that allows for the creation of live and interactive animation, indicating that Howard’s vision continues to shape Motus Digital into a leading company in the entertainment industry.

As an entrepreneur and a dedicated alumnus, Howard Blietz serves as a bold reminder of what our alumni can achieve, in their careers as well as in service to their alma mater.