Kathleen McFadden

NIU Board of Trustees Professor

Dean's Distinguished Professor of OM&IS


Operations Management and Information Systems


  • Ph.D., University of Texas-Arlington, Management Science/Operations Management
  • MBA, Gonzaga University, Business Administration
  • B.A., Gonzaga University, Economics


When Kathleen McFadden, Ph.D., co-authored a study on the best way to board a plane, and showed how the findings could save airlines $200 million per year, the industry took note.

The FAA and the NTSB invited McFadden to Washington D.C. to brief them on her premier research after she studied the link between drunk driving convictions and pilot flying performance.

And when she developed strategies for improving quality and reducing errors in the healthcare field, she got the attention of medical professionals and earned prestigious awards for her research.

Her innovative ideas not only attracted attention from leaders in industry worldwide, but also from media outlets, including the Discovery Channel, ABC 7 and more.

In all she's published about 40 articles and given more than 100 managerial talks and conference presentations worldwide on such research, bringing international attention to the work that the Dean's Distinguished Professor is doing in the Department of Operations Management and Information Systems in the College of Business at NIU.

McFadden, who came to NIU in 1993, was awarded a Board of Trustees Professorship in 2019.

"I am passionate about consistently providing high-quality contributions to the field because my work improves safety for airline passengers and outcomes for patients, thereby transcending traditional business concerns," she said.

She has that same passion when guiding her students at NIU, and lends her expertise by inviting in industry experts in, encouraging students to conduct plant tours and caring about their development, all while setting the highest of standards in her classes.

"She provides real-world examples and cases in her classes to generate students' interest to study and to explore, stimulate their growth, and inspire students to be the best they can be," Department Chair Chang Liu, Ph.D. said.

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