Gloria J Gibson appointed president of NEIU

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

NEIU Board of Trustees announced Gloria J. Gibson as the next president of the university on March 15.

She will be replacing Richard Helldobler who was the interim president for the past 18 months after Sharon Hahs retired in 2016.
Gibson was serving as the provost and senior vice president at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

“I am truly honored to be named President at Northeastern Illinois University, a place I have developed a strong and heartfelt appreciation for since setting foot on campus,” said Gibson, who will become president at NEIU starting June 1.

“Among the things, I found most impressive about NEIU is its resiliency during the past 150 years and its diverse community. I am so honored to be a part of Northeastern’s history and to be following the footsteps of strong leaders who preceded me,” Gibson said.

Born in St. Louis, Illinois, Gibson’s academic career began with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

She later earned a doctorate in folklore with a concentration in ethnomusicology from Indiana University at Bloomington.

At Indiana University, she served as an associate professor in a variety of departments, including Afro-American studies, communications and culture, and folklore and ethnomusicology in 1995.

She also served as IU’s director of the archives of traditional music and associate vice chancellor for the office of multicultural affairs.

“I will prepare for a new chapter in my life as I move back to the Midwest and get settled in at Northeastern. Even though you have warmly received me as your next university president, I am also coming to Northeastern to learn,” Gibson wrote in an email addressed to the community on March 21.

In a statement to the Independent regarding student retention and increasing graduation rates, Gibson said, “I do not, at this point, have a plan of attack. But access, retention and graduation-those three components are very important and we’ll be working on a plan together as a campus to improve those components.”

“Student engagement is very important because it increases retention. But I want to hear from the students. What is it that the students want to do? We can work on internships, we can work on school spirit activities, but it’s not about (what) the president’s saying, I need to hear from the students,” Gibson concluded.

Richard Helldobler wrote in a separate email to the community that his contract as interim president will end on March 31. He will be on an educational leave.

“While it has been an honor to serve as Interim President these past 18 months, I have notified the Board of my decision to withdraw from further consideration to extend my contract,” Helldobler wrote.

“Please know that I wish all the best to you — and your incoming President — now and always,” Helldobler concluded.

“I am excited to have Dr. Gloria Gibson as our 10th NEIU president. NEIU is making history and it is a pleasure to share this first; the first black women president,” Student Government President Ashlei Ross told the Independent.

“We welcome Dr. Gibson back home to Illinois. Dr. Gibson cares about students, making sure she will put their needs first. When speaking with Dr. Gibson on her campus visit one thing that sat with me as she did not like that we call the north side campus ‘main campus,’” Ross said.

“I am very wishful that she will bring unity to each one of our satellite campuses, and make sure students do not feel isolated, especially at CCICS. I am looking forward to CCICS being given tender, loving care and the building made to look like it is a college campus, and more academic programs being brought there,” Ross concluded in her statement.

“The course I’m taking — Northeastern 101 — will be enlightening, and I look forward to you assisting me in learning more about the university’s culture. I promise to listen attentively and with an open mind, take notes and visit with as many people and groups as I can,” Gibson said.

Gibson will officially start as president on June 1. Currently, it is unclear who will perform any presidential duties for the next two months as Helldobler’s current contract ends on March 31.