Daniel Goodwin and the Three Year Challenge


Photo by Rut Ortiz

Daniel L. Goodwin is honored in Alumni Hall.

NEIU’s iconic ‘N’ glowed as one flanked each side of the podium centered in Alumni Hall. Faculty, staff and students gathered in anticipation of the official dedication of the College of Education. The College is named after its donor, Chairman and CEO of Inland Real Estate Companies, Inc., Daniel L. Goodwin.

As an alumnus and first student government president, Goodwin made a substantial commitment to his alma mater: First, a grant of $1 million and second, up to an additional $1.5 million matched within a challenge over the course of three years.

“Today’s dedication is more than just an honor for a very generous benefactor,” said Board of Trustees member Barbara Fumo. “It is also the establishment of a legacy of a true educator.”

Goodwin worked as a science teacher for the Chicago Public School (CPS) system for 10 years. He would go on to pursue a career as a businessman — far from his days of being a grade school teacher. However, Trustee Fumo said to the crowd, “He may have left the classroom, but Dan Goodwin never left education

As the first chairman of the Board of Trustees and a member of the first freshman class, Goodwin has undeniable roots sown at NEIU.

“I’ve been involved with it for 45 years,” he said. “I’ve had a lifelong affiliation with Northeastern and what makes me most proud is the fact that Northeastern provides an opportunity for students who would not otherwise have this quality of education. That’s a big deal.

“People shouldn’t lose sight of the quality of education. I think this school still produces the best teachers and produces the best educators in the state. I’m very proud to be associated with it. I want to further that mission.”

President Sharon Hahs officiated the dedication to the college by acknowledging members of the board and alumni in the audience. She encouraged all alumni and current students to wave their hands in the air in tribute.

“Mr. Goodwin, your name is now forever associated with education at Northeastern,” she said. “It will serve as a reminder of charity, kindness and support for teachers as we develop generations of educators.”

SGA president Nicholas Martinez expressed appreciation of Goodwin’s philanthropic endowment, how members of the student body are close to graduation and becoming alumni.

“Hopefully, one day, we will have the opportunity to give a gift like Daniel Goodwin did today,” Martinez said.

Goodwin directed his closing statements to the students in the room.

“The message that I have for you is the most important thing in life is to follow your passion,” he said. “Whether that passion involves being a nurse, a teacher, a mother, a homemaker or a lawyer…don’t pass up that opportunity to follow your passion. That is what life is all about.”

The second part of Goodwin’s gift comes in the form of a semi-fundraising challenge where NEIU will have to raise up to $500,000 every year for three years.

Acting VP for Institutional Advancement Liesl Downey asked the enthused crowd, “Can we, together raise half a million dollars this year?”

The audience responded with an eruption of cheers.