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50th Anniversary Celebration


Alumni Stories

To help commemorate our first 50 years, we are compiling College of Business memories. Below are a few of the experiences remembered over the years. Enjoy the stories that have been shared! >> contribute a story of your own...

I am glad that NIU is keeping track of the years, because for me it seems just like yesterday that I was a student at NIU. 50 years! Congratulations! I graduated with a B.S. in Finance 1978. Learning in the classrooms of the School of Business not only built a strong foundation of the principles of business, but also gave me the confidence to apply "out of the box" thinking to achieve my dreams. Recently at my young age, please don't do the math, I developed the My HiLo app for Apple's iOS software that is a teaching tool for students to track their stocks' performance. What a honor it would be for me to have the circle completed by having the My HiLo app taught to the future alumni of NIU. Thank you NIU.
  ~ Lisa (BS Finance 1978)


The Early Years. I may be one of the three 1953 business education graduates (if not the first one) noted in this story in the 50th commemorative issue. I remember starting business classes in the old converted Army Barracks just west of the main campus in the fall of 1951. I had Dr. Geigle for many of my business classes. He was a great instructor. I student taught accounting and business law at DeKalb High School (spring 1953). I graduated in May of 1953 receiving my diploma on the island in the campus lake. I was wondering if you could check to see if I was the first. I look forward to hearing from you.
  ~ Gordon (BS in Business Education 1953)


Each November our group from Gilbert Hall 66-67 meet in Greektown for dinner. This is probably our 20th year of having dinner together, maintaining our friendship founded in Gilbert Hall 45 years ago.
  ~ Charlie (68), Jim (68), Rick (70), Bruce (68), and Jim (68)


I believe my story is typical of an NIU graduate. Neither of my parents went to college but worked hard to get promoted in their professions. I was an average student in high school and NIU gave me a chance. Today I am VP of Performance Analytics at an investment management firm in suburban Chicago. By God's grace I was able to know the opportunity NIU's College of Business gave me and seized it. My favorite memory is being in one of Dr. Kieso's last classes that he taught, when he just got a fax machine in his house back in the early 1990s.
  ~ Jason (B.S. Accountancy 1993)


My very first class at NIU was in the summer of 1965 with Dr. Francis Nowik for Introduction to Business. Dr. Nowik drilled into our brains that the consumer is king of the marketplace-- this has stuck with me as a college professor and business man.

As an accounting major, I was told to take salesmanship with Dan Lemanski by a fellow student, Tom Valenti. It was a wise decision, Professor Lemanski was the best teacher among the 41 I had in a six year career at NIU.

I started to work for a member of the big eight but was then offered an accounting teaching assistantship in 1969. I vividly remember collating an exam with 20 fellow TA's in Wirtz Hall at night and being told by campus police to run to our cars or we would be locked in Wirtz Hall all night because of the Vietnam War rioting taking place on campus. You never saw accounting majors run so fast.

I was turned on by my NIU classroom experience-- I ended up teaching at Moraine Valley Community College for thirty years. I also taught part-time at the College of Dupage, Elgin, and Harper Colleges and had a blast. I wanted to be like Dan Lemanski.

I was also able to get real world business experience by forming thoroughbred race horse partnerships, being a general partner in TCBY Yogurt franchises, and serving as a director of training for Big Apple Bagels. I now serve on the board of directors for Big Apple Bagels.

I treasure my memories with the NIU College of Business from 1965 to 1971 and beyond. the story of the growth of the College of Business is truly amazing. I salute the professors and administrators who made it happen.
  ~ Jim (B.S. Accountancy 1969, MBA 1971)


My college days were full of too much fun ... and too little study and classroom time. Despite that choice, I was able to graduate with a 2.0 or so [rounded up] and to do that needed a 3.6+ that last 18 hours. To be asked to be the commencement speaker for NIU's College of Business several years later was such a surprise. Although I would not want students to justify their lack of studying by my actions, I do feel that being so active in my fraternity and other social events did in fact add much to whatever level of success that I may have realized in my subsequent business career. You often read about "good students" and the results that follow; my story is more about being a "fun student" [to the detriment of grades] and having some level of results anyway. Thanks to NIU - one of the key foundations of my life!
  ~ Jim (B.S. Business 1970)


I just received the 50th anniversary alumni magazine and felt the urge to share some exciting news. This year in April, I was awarded the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association "Retailer of the Year" designation. Details of the award are provided in the following links: http://www.prsm.com/GetInvolved/content.cfm?ItemNumber=758 and http://about.officemax.com/html/officemax_awards_recog.shtml
  ~ Tim (MBA 2004)


My favorite experiences at the NIU College of Business were attending the Advanced Professional Sales (MKTG 450) course with Dr. Dan Weilbaker and being active in the American Marketing Association.
  ~ Carla, B.S. Marketing 1996


When I started at NIU, Wirtz Hall was where the business school was. I remember being able to smoke inside the building. When I graduated, the college was temporarily located in Gilbert Hall, while Barsema was being built. I miss Wirtz. I remember all of my time and classes there - I met my husband there, Jim Wagener - an accountancy major. We got married in 1999, one year after he graduated. Following the footsteps of his parents (Larry Wagener, Norma Siwy), they too met at NIU and got married (although his mom, a teacher - the nerve of her not being a business school student!).
  ~ Christina, B.S. Business 1989


During 1982 and 1990 approximately, there was a NIU program to promote Peruvian students to attend the NIU College of Business. Three Peruvian were intended to study at the college (located in Wirtz at that time) per year, after a strict selection done by IPFE (a Peruvian NGO dedicated to promote education). I was part of the second group (1983-85). During the period of the program, over 20 Peruvian students graduated from NIU (some students did from other programs as well, as engineering). Most of us returned home and had successful careers locally or internationally and contributed somehow to the development of our country. Some colleagues stayed in the United States to pursue doctoral studies or to develop their own careers. But what we all have in common is that we are very grateful for NIU because of the quality of the education we received, its nice facilities and of course the great professors we had. I personally remember Dean Benson first and then Dean Brown leading the NIU College of Business, Dr.King, Dr. Stricklin, Dr. Flores (the Peruvian professor who helped to initiate the program), Dr. Rifai, Dr. Andreasen, Mr. Barnes (Computer Lab), Dr. Wilbur among many others excellent professors.

On October, Thursday 27th, the Peruvian Chapter of NIU Alumni will meet to celebrate the NIU College of Business 50th anniversary and to remember the wonderful times we spent in Dekalb studying at NIU.
  ~ Jose (Pepe), MBA 1985


I was accepted into the doctoral program at NIU for the fall semester of 1963. My doctorate was to be in Business Education. Women were not accepted in accounting at that time. To make matters worse, I was already 30 years old! Dr. Kathryn Illiff was the only woman in the Department of Accountancy. There was one woman taking accounting as an undergraduate major! How times have changed! Dr. Clarence Avery was the department chair in accountancy. Dr. Donald Kieso and Dr. Frederick Poor and Dr. Illiff were the faculty (as I remember). Dr. Ruth Woolschlager in business education was my major professor. Her mentoring of me was particularly important because of my age and because I was interested in accounting. I remember that one of my very important duties was to see to the coffee pot in the faculty lounge! I think I was the second or third student to receive my Doctorate in Business Education at NIU. I was very fortunate that I got to teach in the Department of Accountancy, and I taught income tax classes, principally. I remember one semester I was teaching Income Tax to an accelerated class of accountancy majors who would go out as interns, a tax class that met on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, another one that met on Tuesday-Thursday and one that met at night. It was the same syllabus for all classes, just all different times. That semester was a nightmare, trying to remember where I was with which class! I learned a great deal from each of my professors, not just information and techniques but also about how to work with my students. And the things I learned on a personal level have lasted for a lifetime. My education as a human being far surpassed any information I may have received.

When I graduated I first taught at Indiana University General and Technical School in Ft. Wayne, IN. I was an associate professor in accounting and director of the newly established business library (I had an undergraduate minor in library science). I taught income tax and introduction to business on television. Two years later I moved to Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. I passed the CPA exam and was made a full professor. During my first year in Morehead I was invited to teach business and accounting at Marshall University in Huntington, West VA for two summer session. When I left Morehead State I taught at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN. until 1978. At that time I became a Professor at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I retired as an emeritus professor of accounting in 1990.
  ~ Phyllis, EdD 1966


I was an unhappy freshman at U of I Champaign in the spring of 1963. The school was impersonal and too big. My father was working at Motorola and took an extension class there taught by Dr. Thistlethwaite, then-Dean of the NIU College of Business. Speaking to him about my situation, Dr. Thistlethwaite suggested to my father that I should consider transferring to Northern. A meeting with Dr. Avery, head of the Department of Accountancy, was arranged for a Saturday by Dr. Thistlethwaite. My Dad and I drove to NIU, saw the beautiful campus, talked directly with Dr. Avery for some time and I decided on our trip back to Champaign to start the application process. Needless to say, I was accepted and spent 3 wonderful years at NIU. The classes back then were small and taught by professors and associate professors. I received a great education, went on to obtain my CPA certification and a successful career followed. I'm sure the current size of NIU would not allow this type of occurrence to happen today - but it shows that EVERY student or potential student was important back then!
  ~ James, B.S. Accountancy 1966


This transformative period was one of great anticipation, excitement, and challenge. For those who dared to venture to the cornfields of DeKalb and who persevered the days in Wirtz and McMurray, what a journey! It has provided opportunities that encompassed professions from the boardroom to the classroom. We will remain forever indebted to these university experiences that challenged and nurtured us as we drew upon our insurmountable faith and sense of duty. The torch has been passed, therefore, the legacy continues. Congratulations on the 50th year!
  ~ Aquanette, B.S. Human Resource Management 1974


I was a full time graduate student during the year of 1964-1965. Having been in engineering as an undergraduate, I really enjoyed the change to business courses. I was in management and remember Dr. Novak and Dr. Sims as my advisors. I had no idea the College of Business was only 3 years old when I came to NIU. I especially appreciated the help from the Department of Management in preparing my resume and help in searching for a job. In August 1965, I went to work for Ford Motor Company and retired from Ford 30 years later.
  ~ Robert, MBA 1967


I transferred to NIU my sophomore from Aurora College. During my junior year I was invited to pledge Pi Omega Pi (Business Education Honor Fraternity). At the end of my junior year I was selected by our two advisors to become the Vice President for our senior year. Something happened that year that brought back some memories from high school. Part way through the year our advisors called a meeting without the president being invited. We were told that she was "just too pregnant" to continue representing our organization, and that I would take over as president. She was NOT to participate any longer in Pi Omega Pi sponsored events. I had seen firsthand the humiliation that two friends of mine suffered in high school due to the same circumstances. She had to finish school at home. He was allowed to finish at school. The morning of commencement he was called into the office and told that he would not participate in the evening ceremonies but both of them could pick up their diplomas the next day in the office. I had no control over that. I did, however, have control of the Pi Omega Pi situation. Since I made all of the reservations for the spring banquet including the room at the UC, menu, etc. I took a liberty. I called the former president and asked her if she and her fiance would be willing to come to the banquet. They were both delighted. She had earned this. It was not a gift. That evening Dr. Floyd Crank of the Business Ed. department was made an honorary member of Pi Omega Pi because the university he attended did not have a chapter. I presided over this ceremony. It had been tradition for officers of all of the clubs of all five colleges of business to receive either a set of encyclopedias or $1,000 scholarship towards a Masters degree at NIU at the spring Awards Banquet. I was not even invited to attend. My personal feeling is: This is the one thing I did in my 4 years of college that made me the most proud of myself. I stood up for something that I believed was in injustice. After graduation I began teaching elementary grades in my home district and did so for 35 years until 2002 when I retired.
  ~ Forrest, B.S. Business Education, 1967


Season Football ticket holder since 2004. Every football game is a great memory! The Tailgating at Huskie Stadium is truly stupendous! We need to get capacity crowds at Huskie Stadium! Chandler R. Harnish is the greatest College of Business alumni I've ever seen! Us old alums need to get with being season football ticket holders and fight the good fight for being a Northern Illinois University College of Business "Canis Familiarus" Huskie Breed of America's Great North Land !
  ~ Leonard, B.S. Accountancy/Finance 1977


NIU College of Business Dean R. L. Thistlethwaite invited me as a guest to represent the first 1,000 MBA graduates at the 1974 Annual Awards Program, which was the 75th Anniversary Year of NIU as well. The dinner speaker was Mr. Carl L. Sadler, President of Sundstrand Aviation, Rockford, IL. I'm sure that it didn't hurt the selection process that I was working at Sundstrand as a General Foreman at the time. A good time was had by all.
  ~ Richard, MBA 1971


"Congratulations on turning 50. I was a marketing student 1975-79, where I spent many hours wandering Wirtz Hall, McMurray and the computer labs. Lots of great memories and a couple I would like to share. Please excuse any spelling errors. Dr. Cary Kizilbash taught us marketing problems. He was a very tough professor who would not allow anyone to come to class unprepared. I think he had a sense for those who tried (to come to class unprepared, sic) by calling on random students to answer his tough questions about the homework for the day. We compared him to Professor Kingsfield, the character in the movie "The Paper Chase." Dr. Kizilbash, while intimidating, taught us to THINK. I still use some of his fundamental lessons and approaches in my business career today. He is an example of a teacher who had a true impact on a student's life.

My senior year at NIU I took International Marketing with Dr. Paul Growe. Early in the semester Dr. Growe invited a student to tell us about an international student business organization, AIESEC. I was interested and VERY glad I went to the meeting later that week. We had an active membership and solid group of AIESEC leaders. We were successful in getting seven business internships around the Chicago and Rockford areas. This allowed seven of us to apply for international business internships through AIESEC. I was in the library one evening when the president of our AIESEC chapter came up to me and congratulated me for getting accepted by Philips, the large Dutch electronics company. Back in 1979, Philips was not a brand name most people recognized. I thought it was the oil company Phillips, as did most people when I told them about my forthcoming adventure. So, I worked and saved money the summer of 1979 and finally headed to Eindhoven, Netherlands in August for my six month internship with Philips. What a wonderful experience I had. I lived with a Dutch family who rented rooms to 3 students. They had three children and she was pregnant with her fourth. The house was obviously always busy, crazy at times, but we had a lot of fun. I never drove a car while in Europe and never needed one. My landlady helped me find a bike when I arrived and I rode my bike everywhere, in all weather conditions, like most of the Dutch. My work with Philips was with the Electro Acoustics Division(ELA), a three billion dollar division that sold many products, including background music to commercial business. Muzak was their competitor. Fortunately most Dutch spoke fluent English and Philips adopted English as its corporate language, so I was able to communicate very well with my Dutch friends and business associates. I did learn some basic Dutch language, like "Thank You" and "another Heineken, please."

I played college golf for NIU but I went to Eindhoven without my clubs and didn't expect to play. Well, much to my surprised I played a lot of golf at Philips Country Club. The way this came about was when I was asked to meet with the head of the ELA division. Very nice gentlemen who loved Americans and loved golf. We got on the topic of golf and 2 hours later he asked me to join him for a round at Philips CC. I went back to my office and my boss and officemates were in disbelief that I, this young, naive American, was going to play golf with the head of the ELA division at Philips CC, where only the senior Philips execs played. We had a great time and eventually my boss, also a golfer, asked me to play. I also gave his teenage sons golf lessons. I was invited to play golf in a mixed tournament and was paired in with Christiana Kuenen, an 18 year old, who was the best female golfer I ever played with. We played many more times and I eventually helped her get a golf scholarship to NIU. Chris was like a young Babe Didrikson because she not only starred for NIU Women's Golf but also played for NIU Women's Tennis. I concluded my Philips internship after six months and started a three month solo backpack trip around the continent, staying in youth hostels and meeting people from all over the world. Traveling the world, especially alone, teaches a person things you cannot learn in the classroom or on the campus of NIU.

Steven Jobs, in his Stanford commencement speech a few years ago, talked about connecting the dots. He said it impossible to connect the dots looking forward but often easy to do it as you look back on your life. My NIU College of Business experience was great. It allowed me to take Dr. Growe's class, meet my AIESEC friends, work hard for an AIESEC internship, work for Philips, travel around Europe and have an absolute experience of a lifetime.

Thank you NIU College of Business and congratulations on 50 years. Well done!"
  ~ Jeff, B.S. Marketing 1979


"Way back in the early 1970's, I earned my beer money by working part time in the Finance Department. My duties included a great deal of mimeographing of Finance exams. I can still remember the mess of the ink and the smell. You youngsters will have to look up mimeographing, I guess. I became VERY popular with the members of a fraternity that will not be named - they would fight to sit next to me during tests I was taking in my own finance classes. Of course the Finance Department was not dumb enough to have me copying the tests for the classes I was taking, so those frat boys all got the same grades that I did - and I don't think I ever made the Dean's List. They probably did better than they would have on their own, however!! Congratulations to the Business School. My degree served me well."
  ~ Kathy, B.S. Business Administration '74


"I was the only female in our accounting class--and asked questions every single day. The guys would never do the asking but were always grateful for the answers. Dr. Geigle was the very BEST! He also made business law a pleasure. Then there was Dr. John Rowe--the best and most relevant educator I ever had. I taught for 33 years and each year told my students my story of Dr. Pinot's classroom.--I completed every homework reaction paper in law. I was never called on. The only time I went to class unprepared he was choosing students to read their reactions. I happened to make eye contact with him and he called on me to read my essay. A million excuses flashed before me. I looked at him and said, " I didn't do it." He looked at me with kindness and said, " Well, at least you're honest." The experience made an indelible, lasting impression on me. I loved my business education instructors and our small business education family. Oh, Dr. Orville Baker from the English, also. Congratulations NIU. "
  ~ Mary, B.S. Business Education '54


"In 2004 the Marketing Department in the College of Business created a course based off Donald Trump's hit show, The Apprentice. The College of Business partnered with the College of Visual and Performing Arts to create our own version of the show into a credit course. We had a talented group of 16 marketing students in this competitive entry course that "fired" students from week to week. We worked in teams to tackle business challenges in marketing research, sales, fundraising, and more. Dean Debiase, Joe Cullinane, and Dennis Barsema played "Donald Trump," and selected a winning team after 8 weeks. Among the many highlights, we raised more than $14,000 for the USO and we called Donald Trump to share the news. I spoke with The Donald for nearly ten minutes on the phone representing our entire class. It was amazing. Even more amazing, Matt Glucksmann and Colleen Anderson were in that class with me, they began dating, and married in September 2009. There are a lot of us that are still great friends. The classroom met the business world and the reality television world 7 years ago. The Apprentice was in it's second season then..."
  ~ David, B.S. Marketing '05, MBA '06


"Well, I am currently a HCM/Business practitioner, a college instructor in the School of Business at Judson University in Elgin, IL, and I am considering a Ph.D in Values-Centered Leadership at Benedictine University."
  ~ Peter, BS Management/HRM 1999


"In the summer of 2010, I took an opportunity offered by the NIU College of Business and studied abroad in Europe for four weeks. This single experience of a lifetime in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and England has profoundly changed not only my academic goals as a future graduate student with a focus in Global Marketing, but my core being and sense of purpose as well. Because of the College of Business and faculty members such as Dr. Peter Magnusson, who led the Study Abroad trip, I have found a confidence, a thirst for knowledge and a drive to change the world, that I know I would not have found otherwise. It's more than a marketing degree that I have received from the NIU College of Business, it is a future and with it the tools to build that future into something great. The memories from that life changing trip and my years at the NIU COB will be with me always and I will be forever grateful that I chose to study at an institution that invests greatly in their students and helps them to grow into their full potential."
  ~ Amanda, B.S. Marketing '11


"Congratulations on your anniversary--I've really enjoyed the collaborations between the College of Business and Women's Studies over the years. My story is about the first time I met Dean Denise Schoenbachler--she was a chair then, and she was presenting on her program before the Academic Planning Council. It was part of a program review, which can be somewhat daunting. Dr. Schoenbachler described some of the engaged learning activities in which COB students participate and talked about the high level corporations that were involved--by the time she was done, the room was silent and people were mumbling about how they wished they were students in COB!"
  ~ Amy, NIU Director of Women Studies