Professor Richard Dahlberg came to NIU in 1970 to chair the newly formed Department of Geography. From the 1970s into the 90s, Dick was the most widely known and respected member of the geography faculty, recognized by his peers in cartography, geography and cartographic education, and internationally as well as nationally.
Though State of Illinois economic conditions at the time prohibited the establishment of a Ph.D. program in geography, Dick played a major role in the initiation or development of the following:
• an M.S. degree program in geography
• the Cartography Laboratory
• public service functions of the Cartography and Geographic Information
System (GIS) laboratories
• the NIU Map Library
• the NIU Co-Op program (currently housed in Career Services)
• standards for excellence and career-long contributions to scholarship sustained by the Department’s faculty
• the department’s first endowed scholarship: the Richard E. Dahlberg Memorial Scholarship in
Dick's many professional accomplishments spanned state, national and international borders. He founded the Illinois Mapping Advisory Committee and was its chair for 10 years; co-founded the Illinois GIS Association; and founded and served as editor of Northern Illinois Mapnotes, now known as Illinois GIS and Mapnotes. He also was elected president of the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping and president of the Land Information Assembly; was national director of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing; and served as editor of The American Cartographer, a major international peer-reviewed journal.
The Illinois GIS Association annually honors and recognizes his substantial contributions to mapping and GIS through the Richard E. Dahlberg Distinguished Achievement Award to a deserving professional.
Two colleagues fondly remembered Professor Dahlberg in memoriam. One said, "Richard lived for teaching. He spent a large amount of time preparing his lectures, even during (international) seminars . . . putting in the finishing touches." Another remarked, "I shall never forget the way Richard subtly imparted information and gave me advice on the American way of life. He was very positive and generous in spirit and will be sorely missed."