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In 2006, Mel Simon (1968 B.S. Accountancy), accepted an invitation to come back to NIU and take a tour of Barsema Hall. It had been a number of years since having any involvement with his alma mater, and while back on campus he was "stirred." Mel explains, "After meeting with the Accountancy Department Chair and Crowe Horwath Professor of Accounting, Jim Young, along with various professors and instructors within the department, I was motivated to give back in some way. I wanted to do something meaningful, but I had yet to discover just what that was."
Mel was inspired by the professors and instructors he met that day. "They came from all over the country, with multiple offers from other institutions, but they chose to come to NIU. I saw their dedication to the accountancy program and their commitment to shaping the next generation of NIU accountancy graduates."
In 2007, Mel was inspired and sponsored by NIU Foundation Board Member and University Trustee, Robert T. Boey, to serve on the NIU Foundation Board of Directors. He joined the finance committee where he worked with fellow members to monitor the NIU Foundation investments; Mel held his position on the committee for six years. While serving on the board and networking within the university, Mel learned of various opportunities to contribute back to NIU and the College of Business. "Instead of selecting from the standard menu of options, I looked around to find how I could show my support; I wanted to find something that was right for me. It was then that I heard about naming a room in Barsema Hall—and it struck a chord." Mel and his wife, Natalie (1968 B.S. Elementary Ed., 1970 M.S. Elementary Ed.), decided to sponsor a room at the College of Business building because it would be a perpetual gift, something that would continue to give over time. In addition, they hoped that with a visible plaque outside of the room, their gift would encourage students to also pay it forward one day. The Simons' gift was added to an endowment to support faculty and staff excellence, as well as technology innovation.
In addition to sponsoring a room, Mel and Natalie provide annual support to the NIU College of Business Dean via the Strategic Initiatives Fund. "Natalie and I are both enthusiastic and focused on supporting NIU's faculty, staff, and students. With another Huskie by my side, we have a lot of appreciation for the university," shares Mel. These two proud Huskies are also NIU President's Circle Members.
A retired Certified Public Accountant, Mel ran his own boutique accounting firm, Melvin J. Simon & Associates, Ltd. His practice focused on tax and financial planning for individuals and small businesses, as well as serving as a Family Office. He devoted a significant portion of his practice to estate planning, while also serving as a director of a public company for several years. Prior to starting his own firm, Mel worked for Wescom, Inc., a telecommunications equipment manufacturer, as their manager of Tax and Audit. Before joining Wescom, he started his career at Arthur Andersen & Co., in their Chicago Small Business Tax division from 1968 to 1976. Mel is a veteran of the U.S. Army, which included a tour of duty with the 934th Medical Group in Vietnam.
Mel received his B.S. in Accountancy at NIU, subsequently became a CPA and was awarded an M.S. in Taxation from DePaul University. He credits his interest in taxation and career success with the Taxation class he took from a former instructor, Tom Stark, while at NIU. In addition to receiving two degrees from NIU, Natalie also received a certificate of advanced study in Special Education from NIU.
Mel and Natalie winter in Arizona, but often return to Illinois to spend time with their family, including their five grandchildren. Mel is a licensed private pilot. He enjoys traveling the world, golfing, and playing bridge.
Donors are vital to our success. They help provide day-to-day essentials in the classroom, scholarship awards for hard-working students, and program and faculty support. Donors impact every facet of the university, and the entire NIU community is grateful for their generosity. Learn more > Distinguished Donor Spotlight Archive >