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The President's Pen

By President Sharon Hahs
On October 12, 2010

Greetings!  And I hope the 2010-2011 academic year is going well!  I was delighted to be asked by Editor-in-Chief Ivan Favelevic to continue the President's Pen column for the Independent this year.  I hope this will be a useful way to enhance communication throughout our busy campuses.

While I plan to write about topics I think will be of interest to you, I also hope to hear thoughts from you—about columns I've written or about columns you would like to read. In order to facilitate this, we have available a special e-mail account,, where I invite you to submit questions or comments about the column.

While I can't promise to answer them all, I will address the most frequent queries in this column and in other venues such as the Town Hall Meetings we have each semester. By the way, I will be hosting the next Town Hall Meeting with Students on Thursday, October 21, at 3:05-4:05 in the Auditorium. I hope many of you will attend.

As we begin a new year, let me re-introduce myself.  I like to say that I have been in school since kindergarten—I went to college right after high school, graduate school right after college, started teaching college courses right after my Ph.D., and entered university administration directly from teaching. In college, I was a chemistry major. I had not initially planned to study science, but the experience of my first chemistry course (both the content and the amazing professor) put me on that path. I completed my baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees in chemistry, then I started teaching college chemistry.  Over time I became interested in the broader issues of higher education, and I enjoyed helping everyone help students, so I entered administration. I have served as dean and provost, and I came to Northeastern in 2007 as president—a role I am honored to have. My work has been entirely in public (state) universities, and I sincerely believe that they have a critical role in our nation's progress. On a personal level, I am married with two grown daughters and three grandchildren, and am an avid gardener.  I share a hobby with my husband of traveling around the world to observe solar eclipses; most recently we visited Easter Island.  

Some great things are happening at the University this year.  We received three Student Support Services grants, totaling $3.3 million dollars over five years, which will enhance advising, academic support, mentoring and cultural activities; four science laboratories were renovated and two new gathering spaces created in the science building to enhance learning and research in the sciences. We are also pleased to report that Northeastern students graduated with the least debt for all Midwest regional universities, with only 16% of the 2009 graduates borrowing for an average total indebtedness of $10,903. Details of these and other achievements were highlighted in the State of the University Address, posted on the NEIU website under "President's Addresses."

In closing, let me say again that I look forward to your questions and comments.  I also look forward to seeing and greeting you around the University.  Best wishes for a great year!

Editor's note:  The ideas and opinions expressed in this column are only those of President Hahs and are in no way associated with the ideas and opinions of the staff of the Independent.

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