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Northern Illinois University names new president

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University named its 12th president — Douglas Baker, current provost and executive vice president of the University of Idaho. The announcement came Tuesday afternoon, immediately following the vote by the school’s board of trustees.

And Baker said, “We just can’t wait to get here.”

The 57-year-old’s appointment will be effective July 1, according to NIU. He will replace John Peters, who announced in October that he planned to retire at the end of June after 13 years leading the DeKalb school.

Baker told The Courier-News he was excited to join the school because, “There are just so many positive things about this institution.”

“It’s focused on student success,” he said. “It has a great faculty and staff, a tremendous alumni base that’s very supportive. There’s just a tremendous amount to build on here, and the focus is on student success and students being engaged and having transformational learning experiences.”

And he told the university he plans to hit the ground running, it said.

By this fall, the new president plans to bring together some people to discuss the school’s “competitive advantages,” as well as its challenges, he said. That includes identifying the needs of the region’s employers, building a more sustainable financial model, and fine-tuning action plans to improve student success in retention, graduation and employment rates, NIU said.

Baker had been trustees’ “top choice” to succeed Peters, according to a written statement by Cherilyn Murer, board chair. And Faculty Senate President Alan Rosenbaum, co-chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, also said in a written statement, “The PSAC was impressed with Douglas Baker’s wide range and depth of experiences.”

According to the University of Idaho website, Baker became provost and executive vice president in 2005.

He had been at Washington State University for 24 years before that, during which he was vice provost for academic affairs and director of the office of undergraduate education, according to NIU. Previously, he had taught courses in management, organizational behavior, organizational design, strategic planning, human resource management and research methods, it said.

That background all has been focused on “strategic planning and leadership issues,” something he said will be “helpful in helping the university pushing forward and really getting to its vision of being the most student-centered public research institution in the Midwest.”

Baker was born in Hood River, Ore., the son of two teachers, according to NIU. He earned his doctorate in business from the University of Nebraska and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Colorado State University, it said.

His wife, Dana, is assistant dean for recruitment, retention and assessment for the College of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. The couple have two grown daughters, Hannah and Robin.

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