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University History
Diversity at Northeastern
The Planning Process
Elements of the Plan
The NEIU Strategic Plan
Strategic Planning Documents
Key Performance Indicators
NEIU Main Website



Northeastern Illinois University
A Brief History

NEIU will soon celebrate its sesquicentennial. This is no small feat in a world confronted with educational, social and economic challenges. This Strategic Plan will enable the University to make even more of a contribution to today’s complex world.

Like many institutions of higher learning, NEIU traces its roots to the beginning of teacher training. Northeastern was founded in 1867 in Blue Island, Illinois, as the Normal School, Cook County’s first teacher training institution. NEIU has a rich tradition of educational innovation and prides itself in preparing teachers and administrators who make a difference in Chicago. That tradition continues to this day and has expanded to include all of the University’s academic disciplines, allowing the University to fully embrace the community in which it resides.

Over the years, the name, location, and mission of the University changed, but the commitment to learning and teaching has continued from generation to generation. The University has not only changed and grown, but it has expanded to address specific urban needs. The Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies was established in 1966 as an important expression of the University’s commitment to inner city communities and especially to the African American community. Three years later, in 1969, the University’s El Centro campus was founded with a special focus on service to the large, diverse and growing Latino community. In 1978, the University opened the Chicago Teachers’ Center to offer professional development programs for urban teachers and administrators. Most recently, NEIU joined the University Center of Lake County in 1996 as a founding member of a consortium of public and private universities offering college-level course work in Lake County. To complete the picture, this mix of essentially urban locations and partnerships also includes the Gensburg-Markham Prairie, which the University acquired in 1973. Consisting of 100 acres of unspoiled Illinois prairieland, it is located just south of Chicago—a beautiful preserve for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

This rich history tracks the dynamic growth of the city and the region. While keeping faith with its original mission—to provide an important resource for students from Illinois—today Northeastern attracts students from all over the world and is poised to become a model of regional public education with a truly global mission. NEIU’s learning environment is enriched though the community’s ethnic, cultural, age, and language diversity. Throughout our history the University has maintained, fostered, and celebrated its commitment to diversity.

Today, NEIU offers its 12,000 students more than seventy undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences, education, and business. Faculty encourage students to integrate classroom instruction with field-based learning, research, and service locally and around the globe.


Northeastern Illinois University