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Dean's Circle


Distinguished Donor Spotlight ~ Dennis Dean

Dennis Dean may be a retired Harris Bank Executive Vice President, but he is anything but retired. Dennis received both his B.S. Degree in Finance and his MBA from Northern Illinois University and since 1999, has been teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level at NIU. Most recently, in 2013, he was named interim Chair of the Department of Finance.

When asked, Dennis will tell you why he has been so passionate to take on a number of leadership roles at the College of Business. "Nobody gets to where they are by themselves. During my NIU days, people made a real difference in my life - the individuals I went to school with are lifelong friends, my professors made a tremendous impact on my professional decisions, and I met a lot of great people. Those people assisted in my success. Now it’s my turn to do the same…for today’s students at NIU. It may be an overused term, but I want to ‘make a difference.’”

Dennis is a proud member of the President’s Circle and the College of Business Board of Executive Advisors (BOEA). He is the former BOEA Chair and during his tenure played an integral role driving the college’s Passport Program initiative. Dennis was part of the development committee fleshing out the original idea, involved in the program development with a faculty team, and part of the implementation process. "Passport is invaluable,” shares Dennis. "The program will give well trained students in their field additional skillsets that will differentiate them in the marketplace. It takes a well-rounded student and makes them significantly more appreciated by employers because they will have a true global sense; they will be able to connect conceptual ideals maybe not specific to their major.”

In 2006, Dennis was humbled and his commitment to NIU students was strengthened while watching an interview given by NIU and Chicago Bears football player Garret Wolfe. Dennis explained that NIU was considered the underdog during this pre-game interview. Wolfe was asked, "Why do you think you have a chance at winning?” He replied candidly, "We don’t worry about our knees.” Dennis finds this attitude reflective of NIU graduates and says, "Our graduates are smart, articulate, and often underrated. They will give you 100% and don’t hold back worrying about what their knees will be like a number of years down the road. I want to help those students get ahead; that is a university culture I find attractive and keeps me giving back.”

Dennis began his career in financial services when he joined Harris Bank in 1974. After 34+ years with Harris and its parent Bank of Montreal, Dennis retired as Executive Vice President in 2008.

A native of Chicago, Dennis joined the Harris Bank as a Corporate Credit Analyst. At Harris, he had responsibilities in Commercial Banking, Systems Development, Operations, and Treasury Services. Dennis was promoted to Executive Vice President at Harris and Executive Managing Director, Investment Banking at Bank of Montreal in 2002. In 2006, he assumed responsibility for Bank of Montreal’s $50 billion Chicago Branch.

Dennis has served on a variety of industry committees relating to the U.S. Payment System and related issues. In addition, during his career at BMO/Harris, he was a frequent speaker at industry conferences in the U.S. and Canada.

Dennis has four children, two of whom are studying at NIU. He and his wife, Debra, reside in Naperville and enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with family.