Dr. John G. Peters will step down as president of Northern Illinois University effective with the end of the current academic year. Peters announced his plans during this afternoon's State of the University address.
The respected political scientist became the 11th president of NIU in June 2000.
“I can’t express in words my love for this university and its people – for its faculty, staff and students who every day invigorate and inspire me,” Peters told the audience. “We’ve shared triumph and tragedy, and in some ways, I feel we’ve experienced an entire lifetime together. But a university presidency isn’t a lifetime appointment.”
Under Peters' tenure, NIU was admitted to the nation's most prestigious public university association, according to the university website. He helped secure a $20 million dollar donation to build a new College of Business early in his tenure and has been a central figure in elevating NIU's image over the past decade.
Peters also was very visible as the campus community recovered from a deadly shooting rampage in 2008.
Before coming to DeKalb, Peters held leadership positions at the University of Tennessee. He also taught at the University of Nebraska.
During Peters' administration, NIU ascended to the highest-possible Carnegie ranking for research universities, gained admittance to the elite Universities Research Association and secured a voice on the NCAA Executive Committee when he was appointed to represent the Mid-American Conference.
As president, Peters has championed engaged learning – “Such programs cultivate critical thinking, encourage greater creativity and enhance communication skills,” he said during his speech.
“The imprint President Peters has had on Northern Illinois University has been indelible, and it has been a privilege to work alongside him,” said NIU alumnus and benefactor Dennis Barsema, chair of the NIU Foundation Board of Directors.
“Under his leadership, the university has reached out to its alumni more than ever before. Thanks to those efforts, we have re-engaged with our alumni and energized them, as demonstrated by the dramatic increase in giving to the university during his tenure. While Dr. Peters’ impact on the university can be measured in many ways, I believe that those accomplishments may be among his most important.”
Cherilyn Murer, chair of the NIU Board of Trustees, said she and her colleagues on the university’s governing board applaud Peters’ service.
His stewardship has transformed the university “with a boom in new construction on campus, an emphasis on student-centered research and engaged learning and an enhanced national reputation,” Murer said.
Peters pledged a smooth transition, saying that he plans to “provide advice and counsel” to the next president during the transition and continued assistance to the NIU Foundation in its efforts to raise funds to support new scholarships and academic programs.
The president also promised to “make every day count” during the next eight months, similarly challenging the campus to identify any “small obstacles that might be removed with a little ingenuity, initiative or elbow grease” to best meet the needs of students.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished during my time as president of this great university,” he said. “But the main achievement over the last 13 years has been to shine a light on the great works of NIU faculty, staff and students. There hasn’t been one day that I haven’t felt supremely blessed to work alongside you.”
A national search for Peters’ replacement will begin this fall under the direction of the Board of Trustees. Peters expects that the board will select a search firm and announce the formation of a presidential advisory search committee by Thursday, Nov. 8.