University Archives Guide

The University Archives preserves the historical records of NEIU and assists the NEIU community with research projects on those records.

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Northeastern Illinois University Archives is happy to assist the university community in answering a variety of questions related to the history and development of NEIU. Please make an appointment for a research session; contact information is listed below. 

Office: Library LL 015
Phone: 773-442-4402

History of NEIU - Timeline 1860s-1990s

1860 – 1890s

SEPTEMBER 13, 1866  The Cook County Board of Commissioners considers a proposal to investigate “the advisability and practicality of establishing a County Normal School.”

1867  The Cook County Commissioners appropriated money to establish an experimental Teacher Training School in Blue Island, Illinois. No rooms were available and the 32 students were accommodated in a leaky freight car.

SEPTEMBER 2, 1867  Hember S. Rexford, town supervisor of Blue Island, Illinois, urges the Cook County Board to locate the normal school inside the Whittier School on Vermont Street. His proposal is accepted. The building is renovated, and classes begin for 300 students on September 2. Daniel Sanborn Wentworth is appointed school principal.

MARCH 20, 1869  The Cook County Board approves a measure to relocate the normal school to Lewis Champlin Grammar School in Englewood, a village located six miles south of Chicago. Louis Beck donates ten acres of land, with final construction costs of the new building coming in at $47,000.

SEPTEMBER 18, 1869  The cornerstone of the Englewood Normal School is laid at the corner of 68th Street and Wright (now Stewart) Avenue.

1870  Entrance exams are required of all incoming normal school students.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1870  Senator Lyman Trumbull and a score of dignitaries formally dedicate the new normal school as classes open in the new Englewood building.

1875  Entrance exams for incoming freshmen are discontinued.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1882: Daniel Wentworth passes away in Denver from the ravages of asthma at age 61.

1883   The Normal School was still a county institution located in the village of Englewood. In 1889, Englewood legally annexed itself to Chicago.

JULY 2, 1883: Renowned New England educator Francis Wayland Parker assumes his duties as principal of the normal school. Amid conservative criticism, Parker adapts “free-form” pedagogy to the curriculum and institutes the first manual training classes.

FEBRUARY 10, 1896: The transfer of control of the Cook County Normal School is approved by the board of education thus becoming the Chicago Normal School under the aegis of the City of Chicago and the board of education.

MAY 29, 1899: Francis Parker submits his resignation to the board of education in order to launch the private “Francis Parker Academic School.”


JUNE 25, 1900: Arnold Tompkins is appointed principal of the Chicago Normal School.

NOVEMBER 21, 1903: Ground is broken for the new normal school, known to succeeding generations of students as “The Dome” at 68th and Stewart. The new building opens in September 1905.

AUGUST 14, 1905: Arnold Tompkins passes away in Menlo, Georgia.

AUGUST 24, 1905: Normal school alumna Ella Flagg Young is appointed to succeed Arnold Tompkins as principal.

OCTOBER 26, 1905: Restrictions barring students living outside of Cook County to enroll in the normal school are lifted.

JULY 29, 1909: Ella Flagg Young steps down to accept appointment as superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools.

AUGUST 1909: William Bishop Owen is appointed principal of the normal school.

JANUARY 1914: The Arts and Gymnasium Building opens five years after the laying of the cornerstone.

FEBRUARY 1926: The Chicago Normal School introduces a three-year course of study with 244 enrolled students for the first three-year class.

FEBRUARY 17, 1928: Dr. Owen, the longest-serving normal school principal, collapses inside the school and passes away at age 62.

FEBRUARY 1928: Butler Laughlin of Indiana University succeeds William Owen as president—the new title replacing principal.

DECEMBER 9, 1931: A proposal to close the normal school as a necessary cost-saving move goes before the board of education but fails.

JULY 23, 1936: Verne O. Graham replaces Butler Laughlin.

MAY 25, 1938   The Normal School was the only tuition-free, four-year, degree-granting institution in the city. It was officially renamed the Chicago Teachers College, a four-year institution conferring the Bachelor of Education degree.

SUMMER 1938: In anticipation of an enrollment surge, the board of education allocates $250,000 for expansion and construction upgrades to the Englewood campus.

JULY 6, 1938: John A. Bartky succeeds Verne O. Graham as president.

JANUARY 14. 1939: Chicago Teachers College received full accreditation from North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

1948: For the first time in its history, CTC admits transfer students.

FEBRUARY 1948: Faculty member Raymond Mack Cook replaces John Swearingen (acting president) as the new dean of CTC.

APRIL 1948: The CTC abolishes its controversial admission examinations as a student requirement.

FALL 1950: Overcrowding compels the board of education and the CTC to establish a North Side satellite campus in Schurz High School.

1951: The Illinois General Assembly agrees to provide for state support of the CTC in the form of reimbursement to the Chicago Board of Education for operating expenses (but not capital costs) of running the institution.

FALL 1952: The CTC introduces the first high school teacher training courses.

APRIL 1953:  The Schurz extension closes. A new branch opens at Wilbur Wright Junior College.

Fall 1954: Students from Wright Junior College and the Schurz extension relocate into the new CTC North Branch at Sabin Elementary School at 2216 Hirsch Street on the West Side.

APRIL 5, 1955: After receiving approval from the Illinois legislature and Governor William G. Stratton, the board of education puts a bond issue before the voters of Chicago. Its aim is to raise $6 million to create and build a North Side teachers college with additional monies allocated for new public school construction. The referendum passes with 75 percent of the vote.

1956: Nationally scored examinations are again made a requirement for admission.

JUNE 13, 1956: Dr. Benjamin Willis, superintendent of the board of education, unveils a five-year CTC facility expansion plan and the building of a future North Side campus to be situated on forty acres of land adjacent to the Chicago Parental School and the Bohemian National Cemetery in the Hollywood Park community.

FEBRUARY 4, 1957: Two new CTC North Branch campuses open: Foreman High School on the far Northwest Side and Richard T. Crane Junior College on the West Side.

DECEMBER 26–27, 1957: The Teachers College Study Conference, underwritten by the Ford Foundation, meets in the Chicago Hilton Hotel to conduct curriculum planning and campus development for the future CTC North.

MARCH 24–25, 1958: The Teachers College Study Conference reconvenes in Chicago to affirm and validate findings and recommendations set forth in December 1957.

MARCH 9, 1960: The Board of Education approves Perkins+Will architectural rendering for the new North Side campus. The city budgets $6 million for construction.

MARCH 31, 1960: Ground is broken for the new CTC North campus—the future Northeastern Illinois University. The college promises to be an innovative, if not technological, wonder. Instructors would, for the first time, have an opportunity to teach over television, learn over television, and work behind the scenes to create sophisticated audio-visual graphics.

JUNE 6, 1960: The board issues RFP bids for construction services to build the new campus. Chell & Anderson secure the building contract.

JUNE 23, 1960: Roy Newell Jervis of East Texas State Teachers College is appointed dean of the CTC North campus. Raymond Cook continues on (until his death in 1965) as dean of CTC South.

1961: NEIU’s oldest Greek society, Lambda Sigma Alpha, is chartered.

SEPTEMBER 6, 1961   The two North Side branches at Foreman and Sabin were closed and a new facility was built at the current St. Louis Avenue location. The North Side Teachers College was opened with an enrollment of 1,364 students. The South Side branch on Stewart remained open.

MAY 23, 1962: At the first commencement ceremony at CTC North, Former Chicago Board of Education President R. Sargent Shriver delivers the commencement address in the Auditorium.

MAY 24, 1962: Campus dedication ceremonies held in the gymnasium for the new CTC North cap off commencement week. Mayor Richard J. Daley and Superintendent Benjamin Willis address a large gathering. It is the first dedication of a teachers college in the United States in 80 years.

JULY 10, 1962: Citing health concerns (but under pressure from Dr. Willis), Dean Jervis steps down.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1962: Dr. Jerome Sachs of the Mathematics Department and a veteran CTC South professor is confirmed as the new dean of CTC North.

MARCH 1964: The Illinois Board of Higher Education recommends the state acquire the college. Since 1961, the State of Illinois had provided most of the financing to the college.

FEBRUARY 17, 1965: By a five to two vote, approval is granted for the formal transfer of CTC South and North from the jurisdiction of the Chicago Board of Education to the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities (BOG) over the objections of Dr. Benjamin Willis.

JULY 1, 1965: The BOG formally settles on a new name for CTC North and South. The two campuses become Illinois Teachers College North and Illinois Teachers College South. The Illinois General Assembly approves the transfer on July 15 and the name change on August 15.

OCTOBER 1965: In special ceremonies, Dr. Sachs is formally inaugurated as dean of the Illinois Teachers College North.

FEBRUARY 21, 1966: The BOG eliminates the title of dean and confers upon Dr. Sachs the new title of president.

1966: At the urging of Congressman William Levi Dawson, the South Side Center for Inner City Studies (CICS) is established in Bronzeville to further prepare teachers for schools in disadvantaged and minority communities.

AUGUST 1, 1966: The CICS moves into the historic Abraham Lincoln Centre at 700 Oakwood Boulevard.

1967: Illinois Teachers' College North became Northeastern Illinois State College. Secondary teacher training programs were now offered, as well as degrees for students who did not wish to enroll in education curriculums.

MARCH 12, 1968: A new campus newspaper, the Print, replaces the Interim and publishes its first issue.

APRIL 5, 1968: The faculty, backed by the Cook County Teachers Union, stages a walkout in an effort to secure collective bargaining rights.

JUNE 3, 1968: Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali speaks to Northeastern students outside the F Wing.

JULY 1968: The College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education formally organize.

OCTOBER 23, 1968: Programming for the new Commuter Center extension commences with the appointment of an Ad Hoc Building Committee by President Sachs. The architectural firm of Hellmuth Obata + Kassabaum is approved for the design work.

NOVEMBER 21, 1968: Twenty students, including members of Northeastern’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, stage a sit-in and take control of Dr. Sachs’s office with a list of non-negotiable demands.

1969: The BOG purchases the Abraham Lincoln Centre at 700 East Oakwood Boulevard for Northeastern with the proviso it shall “maintain the facility and programs which would reflect a mission and accountability to the black community.” The building becomes the home of the Center for Inner City Studies on the South Side campus of Northeastern.

MARCH 1969: Aqui Estoy (later renamed El Centro de Recursos Educativos, or Center for Educational Services, and eventually moved to West Town) opens as a field center for Puerto Rican students in the Humboldt Park community under the direction of Rosa Hernandez.


JUNE 4, 1970: Ground is broken for the new 165,000 square-foot Science Building. The building opens in October 1972.

AUGUST 1, 1970: Future Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern delivers an address at Northeastern.

SEPTEMBER 1970: Miguel Antonio Rios helps to found the Union For Puerto Rican Students.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1970: The Northeastern Football Club is launched. The Golden Eagles play an eight-game schedule, beginning with a 21-8 victory over Prairie State. Home games are played at Winnemac Park.

JANUARY 19, 1971: Ground is broken for the new Classroom Building on the north side of the campus.

MAY 6, 1971: With the election of a nine-member board, Northeastern’s first alumni association launches.

JULY 23, 1971: By an act of the legislature, Northeastern Illinois State College becomes Northeastern Illinois University. “UNI” is adapted as the school’s official acronym as enrollment swells to 7,281 students.

1971–1972: Northeastern’s experimental University Without Walls program begins.

JANUARY 1972: Que Ondee Sola (May it Wave Alone), the campus newspaper serving the Puerto Rican student community, debuts.

MARCH 16, 1972: Anthropologist Margaret Mead addresses the Northeastern student body.

SUMMER 1972: History Professor Dr. J. Fred MacDonald introduces the study of popular culture into the curriculum.

JUNE 30, 1972: Associate Professor Charles Kane of the Physical Education Department is slain inside his office by a disgruntled student. Thereafter, Northeastern schedules an annual Charles Kane Golf Outing honoring his memory to benefit scholarship funding.

SEPTEMBER 1972: Proyecto Pa’lante is founded by NEIU students Luis Gutierrez and Miguel del Valle, as well as the Union for Puerto Rican Students and the NEIU Division of Student Affairs for Latino Students with the goal of promoting college access and success to Latino communities in Chicago.

OCTOBER 12, 1972: The Science Building is formally dedicated.

OCTOBER 16, 1972: Suffering ill health, Dr. Sachs announces his intention to step down as president effective the end of August 1973.

NOVEMBER 1972: The Faculty Senate approves a pass/fail grading option for students.

APRIL 2, 1973: Governor Dan Walker is on hand to dedicate the new Classroom Building in a campus ceremony.

AUGUST 7, 1973: At the groundbreaking for the new student Commuter Center, President Sachs turns the first shovel of dirt.

AUGUST 30, 1973: The State of Illinois acquires the title to the Chicago Parental School and its grounds. Northeastern agrees to operate the school for the next two years.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1973: Dr. James H. Mullen, president of Jersey City State College, is confirmed as Northeastern’s second president.

SEPTEMBER 26, 1973: Actress Jane Fonda and anti-war activist Tom Hayden address the Northeastern student body about the military and political situation in South Vietnam. Fonda and Hayden were in the midst of a twenty-five-city Indochina Peace Campaign tour.

MARCH 7, 1974: The national college “streaking” fad reaches Northeastern. Three men and one woman shed their clothes and race around the parking lots near St. Louis Avenue before a large throng of curious students who bypassed the chance to hear Chicago Alderman Edward Vrdolyak speak in the Auditorium.

MAY 25, 1974: WZRD, Northeastern’s new FM station at 88.3 on the dial, goes on the air for the first time at 5:25 p.m. The tower and broadcast antenna are installed atop the Classroom Building.

MAY 29, 1974: Inauguration and investiture of Dr. James Mullen as president are held during commencement exercises at Arie Crown Theater.

WINTER 1974–1975: Keeping with Dr. Mullen’s agenda to develop curriculum better suited to career development in business-related fields, Northeastern launches the new Department of Computer Sciences.

AUGUST 1975: Construction of the Commuter Center expansion wraps up. The addition features a dining hall, ticket office for student events and an auditorium. The Book Nook becomes the first occupant.

AUGUST 15, 1975: The Parental School, having outlived its usefulness and lacking necessary state funding to remain open, closes. The buildings were razed and the grounds cleared for future construction under the guidelines of the new campus master plan.

SEPTEMBER 1975: The new Division of Business and Management, a program of study chaired by Dr. Stanley Renas, schedules its first class.

NOVEMBER 20, 1975: By a five to four vote of the BOG, collective bargaining rights are granted to Northeastern faculty.

JANUARY 1976: Alumna and professor of dance Dame Libby Komaiko incorporates Ensemble Español, the world-renowned Spanish dance company in residence at Northeastern.

FEBRUARY 19, 1976: President Mullen submits his resignation letter after two years guiding Northeastern.

JULY 28, 1976: The BOG confirms the appointment of Dr. Ronald Williams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the Federal City College, to serve as Northeastern’s third president succeeding Acting President William Lienemann.

OCTOBER 27, 1976: The National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council sponsor the José Greco Dance Company in a half-week residency at Northeastern. Their performance sells out and receives high praise.

SPRING 1977: Northeastern introduces a criminal justice program into the curriculum.

MAY 12, 1977: Dr. Ronald Williams is inaugurated as president.

SEPTEMBER 1977: The new five-story Northeastern Library is opened.

1978: Dr. John Cibulskis, professor of mathematics, develops the Math Lab and locates it in the Classroom Building. Cibulskis leaves Northeastern in May 1983.

MAY 15, 1978: The Northeastern Library is formally dedicated.

OCTOBER 1978: The US Office of Education awards a $131,730 title grant to Northeastern to establish the Chicago Teachers’ Center.

MARCH 1980: Northeastern’s acclaimed Jazz Ensemble is selected as one of three outstanding bands at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, the oldest and most prestigious jazz competition in the nation. Their appearance marks the second year in a row the Jazz Ensemble receives an invitation to compete.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1981: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg addresses students in the Auditorium about “Internment, Constitutional Issues, and the Significance of the Federal Commission.”

OCTOBER 26, 1981: Members of the Illinois legislature, the BOG, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education join with President Williams in formally announcing an approved plan to build a new physical education complex at the south end of the campus. A 1982 groundbreaking is announced, but completion of the building is seven years away.

1981–1984: The Northeastern Golden Eagles Football Club wins consecutive conference championships.

SUMMER 1983: Dr. Asad Hussain founds the annual Summer Institute of Islamic Studies.

JULY 1, 1983: The Illinois Board of Higher Education approves the formation of Northeastern’s new College of Business and Management.

FALL 1983: The long-awaited College of Business and Management opens.

DECEMBER 29, 1983: U.S.A. Today names Northeastern one of the top teacher-training colleges in the country in their study “Teaching Teachers: The Best Schools.”

OCTOBER 10, 1985: Gravely ill from cancer, President Williams participates in an anti-apartheid protest demonstration at the South African consulate with UNI students, staff, and faculty including Dr. Salme Harju Steinberg of the History Department.

DECEMBER 11, 1985: President Williams loses his nine-month battle with cancer and passes away at age 58.

JANUARY 28, 1986: Northeastern holds a solemn memorial service for President Williams in the Auditorium.

JULY 24, 1986: Dr. Gordon H. Lamb, vice president of Academic Affairs at the University of Texas in San Antonio, is chosen by the BOG to succeed Acting President John Cownie.

FALL 1986: The Northeastern Illinois University Honors Program is implemented under the direction of Dr. Mohan Sood. Thirty students are enrolled in the first class.

NOVEMBER 7, 1986: Dr. Lamb is inaugurated as the fourth president of Northeastern. A concert follows the invocation ceremony.

DECEMBER 1986: The UNI initialism is phased out and the NEIU initialism first appears on a December 18, 1986, press release and on the May 1987 convocation program.

MAY 8, 1987: The Northeastern Library is renamed and dedicated the Ronald Williams Library in memory of the late president.

JUNE 12, 1987: Known for years as the “Beehive,” the iconic C Building is renamed the Jerome Sachs Administration Building in formal dedication ceremonies.

MARCH 14, 1988: The Northeastern Independent publishes its first issue following the demise of the Print in October 1987—the result of a myriad of financial and operational problems.

MAY 24, 1988: The Apocalypse Literary Association hosts Illinois Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks for a poetry reading and Q&A session.

NOVEMBER 1988: Northeastern unveils a new logo and school colors. The old brown and gold color scheme is abandoned in favor of blue and gold. The women’s basketball team dons the crisp new colors at a game on November 19.

DECEMBER 1, 1988: After years of planning and budgetary and construction delays, the new Physical Education Building is dedicated with former Chicago Bear Walter Payton on hand.

1989–1990: The Northeastern Golden Eagles basketball team joins NCAA Division II in a controversial and divisive move that engenders considerable campus debate and opposition.

FALL 1990: The University scraps trimester scheduling and converts to semesters.

1990–1991: The Golden Eagles begin Division I play. NCAA rules require Northeastern to support seven other sports programs that over time drains valuable financial resources away from academic programs.

OCTOBER 1991: With the closing of the Chicago City Hall Municipal Reference Library, the Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Chicago Branch, is transferred to the Ronald Williams Library.

MAY 1993: President Lamb travels to Russia to initiate what will eventually become an exchange program between Northeastern and the Urals State Pedagogical University, setting in motion a broad program of international study later in the decade.

FEBRUARY 10, 1995: The Illinois General Assembly passes into law a measure to discontinue the BOG and transfer authority to independent boards of trustees at the five state-run institutions of higher learning under its jurisdiction.

MARCH 9, 1995: Following nine stormy years as president, Gordon Lamb announces his intention to step down effective September 1.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1995: Provost Salme Harju Steinberg is named acting president as the new board of trustees prepares to commence a search for potential candidates to fill the Lamb vacancy.

1996: Lisa Cooper Gavin, director of Alumni Relations, inaugurates the annual Class Gift program to fund an endowed scholarship program. Through July 2016, the Class Gift endowment has generated more than $72,000.

JANUARY 25, 1996: The Northeastern Illinois University Board of Trustees (BOT), chaired by Daniel L. Goodwin, meets for the first time.

SEPTEMBER 1996: Information Commons, the makeover of the old UNIcorn recreation room in the basement of the Classroom Building into a computer lab, is completed.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1996: Acting President Salme Steinberg is officially sworn in as Northeastern’s fifth president in Alumni Hall after the BOT ended their search and announced Dr. Steinberg as their unanimous choice.

JANUARY 1997: Construction begins on the new 110,000-square-foot Fine Arts Center.

1997: The Department of Education designates NEIU as Hispanic-Serving Institute (HIS).

SEPTEMBER 18, 1997: By a vote of four to three from the trustees, Northeastern exits NCAA Division I sports, sparking anger and disappointment among a few students, parents and the Intercollegiate Athletics program. However, Northeastern receives widespread congratulations from Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Northeastern faculty, staff and most students who will now have access to the state-of-the-art Physical Education Building and lower fees every semester.

MAY 1998–JUNE 1999: The Commuter Center completes a two-year renovation. The Student Government Association renames the Commuter Center the Northeastern Illinois Student Union.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1999: “Northeastern Illinois University Day” in Illinois marks the ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling of the new Fine Arts Center.

Library Directors

Seymour Schneider, 1963-1973

Vacant, but Charles Stamps may have served as Interim Director for part of that time, 1974-1978

Melvin George, 1978-1985

John Gaboury, 1985-1988

Brad Baker, 1988-2013. He became the acting University Librarian on Aug 15th, 1988. Formally installed on Jan 1,1990 as the Director of the Library. His title was changed to Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources on Sep 2, 2002.

Carlos Melian, 2013- 2017

David Green, 2017

Lisa Wallis, 2017 - 2019

Steven Harris, 2019 - Present