Earning high marks
The NIU director of Testing Services and Academic Affairs Research Support is as passionate about testing as he is about being a Huskie.
Barker started at NIU as an undergraduate student in 1989 and, after earning a bachelor’s degree in 1993, went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate degree.
It was while working on his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology that his career in testing services really began.
“It took a graduate assistantship with NIU’s Testing Services and found a good fit for temperament and skill set,” Barker said. “I enjoyed the research I conducted for the vice provost, and I liked the detail-oriented aspects of working in an academic testing office.”
Barker was the assistant director for psychometric support, and when the director position opened in 2008, he took on that role. Nearly two decades later, the NIU community is glad he did.
At Testing Services, Barker is involved with every phase of the student career: receiving and processing thousands of ACT scores, scanning and analyzing nearly every standardized classroom test, and processing course evaluations.
He has been called a “visionary” and a “difference-maker,” and someone who leads by example. In 2016, Barker was one of four members of the Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) to earn the Presidential Award for Excellence.
“It was never my intention to stay at NIU but I’m honestly glad I did,” Barker said. “As director, I have been lucky to have the absolute best staff on campus.”