Overall Rating Bronze
Overall Score 34.87
Liaison Courtney Gallaher
Submission Date June 4, 2024

STARS v2.2

Northern Illinois University
PA-7: Support for Underrepresented Groups

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Courtney Gallaher
Associate Professor, Sustainability Coordinator
Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a publicly posted non-discrimination statement? :

The non-discrimination statement, including the website URL where the policy is publicly accessible:
Equal Employment Opportunity / Nondiscrimination Statement
In accordance with applicable statutes and regulations, NIU is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation, or any other factor unrelated to professional qualifications, and will comply with all applicable federal and state statutes, regulations and orders pertaining to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action.
The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies:
Acting Ethics and Compliance Officer, Title IX Coordinator
Altgeld Hall 238

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
Citigroup Center
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661-4544

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
ADA Accommodation

Does the institution have a discrimination response protocol or committee (sometimes called a bias response team)?:

A brief description of the institution’s discrimination response protocol or team:
If the report violates state or federal law or NIU’s Code of Conduct, the report is given to the proper authorities. The NIU's Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is an internal working group tasked to coordinate campus response to bias incidents. BIRT does NOT investigate, adjudicate or otherwise participate in judicial/legal processes, but provides support to individuals and populations affected by such incidents.
Our BIRT reporting system is not live monitored. Therefore, if anyone is experiencing a threat of harm or immediate risk, call 911 or Department of Police and Public Safety.
Even if perpetrators are unknown or discoverable (e.g., unwitnessed, anonymous graffiti) or unsure whether it's a policy/law violation, reporting instances or suspected instances helps document patterns that might lead to identifying those responsible and supporting the individuals or communities being targeted.
Reports may be made anonymously, though such reports may limit our ability to respond. You can identify if you are comfortable or want to be contacted for follow-up.
1. Reports are received and reviewed by the Vice President and CDO, Vice President for Faculty Affairs, Dean of Students, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Chief Human Resource Officer, staff from Title IX, staff from Academic Diversity Equity and Inclusion. The BIRT will act directly, and/or refer to other campus units.
2. If the incident rises to the level of legal or policy violations, or violates the Student Code of Conduct, they will refer reports to the appropriate agency.
All reports are logged and included as part of the ongoing reviews and reports by involved offices, which in turn are used to inform university programs and services.

Does the institution have programs specifically designed to recruit students from underrepresented groups?:

Does the institution have programs specifically designed to recruit academic staff from underrepresented groups?:

Does the institution have programs designed specifically to recruit non-academic staff from underrepresented groups?:

A brief description of the institution’s programs to recruit students, academic staff, and/or non-academic staff from underrepresented groups:
As an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution, we have been very intentional about being inclusive of the Latinx/Hispanic population in our recruitment programming. In the spring of 2022, we hosted our first "Bienvenido a NIU" admitted student day event on campus for admitted Latinx/Hispanic students and their families. This allows students and their families to ask all of their questions in their primary Spanish language, helping them to understand better all of the important topics necessary for making their college decision (such as financial aid and scholarships, housing and dining, student life, paying for college, academic programs, etc.)Also, on various Saturdays throughout the fall and spring semesters, NIU has hosted special campus tours named "Sábado en Español," offered completely in Spanish. These have been extremely popular for our prospective students and families, especially those whose first language spoken at home is Spanish. They often reach full capacity. About three-fourths of the students who attended these events enrolled at NIU, making them very impactful and encouraging us to continue increasing capacity in future years.
In May 2022, NIU formally partnered with a new non-profit organization named Hope Chicago that seeks to reduce economic and social inequity. Within this agreement, Hope Chicago Scholars from five Chicago Public Schools will receive additional support (financial and academic) from NIU along with a gap-closing scholarship from Hope Chicago, which covers all costs not covered by other grants and scholarships. In its first year, NIU enrolled 63 new students from these high schools, compared to an average of 15 from these same schools in prior years.
Increased resources have been invested in student support services and teaching and instructional services. For example, ten additional academic advising positions have been created, in addition to an expansion of financial advising services. Navigate (the student success platform at NIU) has been further leveraged to gather and respond to student data more efficiently. For example, collecting, monitoring, and responding to student alerts from faculty members regarding academic concerns. A further example is the Re-Enrollment Workgroup which meets regularly with representatives from key campus units to coordinate and respond to student holds and outreach to encourage reenrollment. While these efforts have been introduced over the past 1-2 years, the preliminary data shows promise. As of 6.23.23, first-year, first-generation students are re-enrolled at 58%, versus 49%, this same timeframe for the 2021/2022 academic year.

NIU has taken proactive and decisive measures to ensure that open positions are advertised in a manner that attracts a diverse pool of applicants. Our partnership with various media vendors secures job packs that align with our Affirmative Action Plan, designed to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce while reducing the underrepresentation of minority and underrepresented groups. Moreover, all members of search committees must complete implicit bias training to understand how unconscious bias can affect recruitment, evaluation of applicants, and the interview process. Already mandatory for members of faculty search committees, implicit bias training also became mandatory in 2019 for those participating in Supportive Professional Staff searches. This training helps people recognize their potential biases and correct them. These efforts have yielded a noteworthy increase in the number of women and people of color in administrative leadership and faculty (tenure track and instructional staff) positions. NIU remains firmly committed to these efforts and will continue to work vigorously towards a workforce that reflects our student population.

NIU is committed to diversifying the offices that primarily support our students. NIU's Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) — created with support from Affirmity, a vendor that provides expert analysis and services to optimize affirmative action and diversity and inclusion programs — assists colleges/divisions with establishing and implementing active AAPs for their areas to increase the recruitment, hiring, retention and professional advancement of diverse faculty, staff, and administrators.
Although some of the university offices may not match the demographics of the student population, President Freeman continues to make hiring diverse faculty and staff a priority in the university's goals. In support of these goals, NIU has developed several professional development programs that promote cultural competency and a greater understanding of how to support our diverse student body. Since 2015, training and professional development opportunities, such as Conversations on Diversity and Equity (CODE), LGBQ+, and Trans Ally and Undocumented Ally Trainings, have helped increase awareness of our students' diverse needs.
While you may not belong to a specific community, acting as an ally and advocate to better engage with students and institutional partners has been an essential part of the professional development programming we offer to staff and faculty to advance their understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Also, the shared equity leadership model is one of the critical facets President Freeman has asked campus leaders to consider moving forward. Shared equity leadership has three principles: a personal journey to critical consciousness, shared values, and leaders who create shared practices and enable the campus community to create just and equitable conditions.

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support, academic support, or other programs designed specifically to support students from underrepresented groups on campus?:

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support or other programs designed specifically to support academic staff from underrepresented groups on campus?:

Does the institution have mentoring, counseling, peer support or other programs to support non-academic staff from underrepresented groups on campus?:

A brief description of the institution’s programs designed specifically to support students, academic staff, and/or non-academic staff from underrepresented groups:
The university has several strategies to support retention and degree completion rates for historically underrepresented and first-generation students. We offer numerous resources for our first-generation students, including a Breaking Barriers support group, academic resources, financial advising, a First-Year Success Series, and more. In addition, NIU has several partnerships with community and state organizations to offer scaffolded support plans to support historically underrepresented students. Examples include BRAVEN, Hope Chicago, and Rockford Promise. These programs offer a combination of financial support and enhanced career education opportunities, in addition to being incorporated into the existing student services on campus.
NIU has invested in Financial Advising to offer students and families detailed information about financial aid, tuition, fees, and financial literacy. The university has invested in a highly utilized laptop lending program to allow better students access to course materials and resources at their convenience. The Center for Student Assistance (CSA) was created to serve as a "one stop-shop" for students seeking additional support to aid them in continuing their education. Services range from legal assistance to food insecurity. The CSA serves as a hub for connecting students to campus and community resources to aid them in continuing with their education. Services range from legal assistance to food insecurity. The CSA is a hub for connecting students to campus and community resources.
Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) support the academic, emotional, social and cultural development of students. CCS’s student-centered programs include counseling, assessment, crisis response, outreach, consultation, training and educational services. CCS help students address personal challenges and develop the skills, abilities and knowledge to empower them to take full advantage of the college experience.
CCS embrace all diversity including race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual identity/orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, age, citizenship and ability. We promote cultural awareness, understanding, and sensitivity.

The NIU faculty mentoring program aims to support all faculty at all ranks. It’s rooted, however, in a formalized mentoring relationship that matches new faculty with senior faculty. This relationship provides new faculty with personalized attention and builds their sense of belonging as they adjust to NIU. Mentoring can also occur within non-hierarchical relationships, and all faculty are encouraged to engage in peer mentoring opportunities.
Strong mentoring relationships, whether formalized or non-formalized, cultural or cross-cultural, within disciplines or cross-disciplines, can improve the teaching, scholarly growth, career advancement and well-being of all faculty.
Employee Well-being provide confidential assistance to employees and their families as they encounter difficulties in their personal lives and careers. By providing counseling, coaching and training services, we can help NIU employees and their families achieve professional success and personal well-being. We also offer access to a range of resources to support faculty and staff in their wellness journey.
Human Resources also offer training sessions that focus on a variety of self-improvement and professional development topics. Faculty and staff can learn about a wide range of topics including:
• Health, nutrition and exercise
• Using employee perks and benefits
• Stress-relieving activities
Lastly, the Inclusion in Action series is a campus-wide professional development series for employees at NIU. The overarching goal of this series is to support positive and effective working relationships among employees across the university at NIU.
FACCE, or the Faculty Academy for Cultural Competence and Equity, is a new program launched in FY 22 meant to help faculty, instructors, staff, and graduate teaching assistants learn how to view cultural differences as valuable assets in the classroom. Given the diversity of the student population, it's essential to incorporate culturally responsive teaching that considers students' customs and experiences. The program covers various topics related to injustice, inequity, and oppression, providing participants with a historical context and the necessary tools to assess DEI efforts in their departments. Additionally, the program encourages individuals to explore their biases and internalized messaging through critical self-reflection.

Does the institution have training and development programs, teaching fellowships and/or other programs that specifically aim to support and prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers as faculty members?:

A brief description of the institution’s programs to support and prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers as faculty members:
The annual Preparing Future Faculty of Color Conference at NIU, brings together graduate students of color from universities across the state to inform, encourage, and inspire graduate students of color to consider the professoriate as a career path.
Preparing future faculty is a national movement focused on transforming the way aspiring faculty are being prepared for their careers. The NIU program is unique in its focus on students of color, designed to create a pipeline to increase faculty diversity within the state and nation.
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports the professional development of two postdoctoral/postgraduate fellows from underrepresented populations for two years, with an optional one-year extension. DEI fellows from any discipline or interdisciplinary field are eligible to apply, provided they have a sponsoring NIU faculty member. Through their research and outreach efforts, fellows have the opportunity to help bridge academic equity gaps and foster student engagement. They can:
• Plan and execute research programs.
• Build alliances with other institutions.
• Raise the reputation of laboratories and departments.
• Mentor graduate students.
• Increase the inflow of grant support.
• Help diversify faculty by creating an internal pipeline of prospects from underrepresented groups.

Does the institution produce a publicly accessible inventory of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus?:

Does the institution offer housing options to accommodate the special needs of transgender and transitioning students?:

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for underrepresented groups is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.