DEKALB -- Northern Illinois University’s leadership in developing high-speed fiber broadband networks throughout Illinois is central to its being named one of four recipients of the inaugural Economic Prosperity University awards from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.
Gov. Pat Quinn recognized NIU’s accomplishments and said “ultra high-speed Internet access is a key to success for the future of Illinois, and Northern Illinois University is at the forefront of this digital revolution.
“I congratulate NIU for this prestigious recognition, and for its efforts to insure that Illinois has broadband infrastructure second to none in order to remain competitive in today’s society.”
NIU won APLU’s "Place" category award which recognizes a university that is excelling in community, social, and cultural development work.
In the past 10 years, NIU’s leadership has resulted in bringing critical high-speed broadband connectivity to the northern half of Illinois. As of this fall, the university has overseen installation of more than 2,200 miles of fiber optic cable throughout the northern Illinois region and beyond.
In addition, APLU named NIU as being among 16 inaugural institutions named as an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University.”
The APLU designation acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.
The “Place” award went to NIU in part for its commitment to expanding broadband Internet access throughout the region and state. It also recognized NIU for enhancing university research capacity and helping to grow businesses and create jobs; an effort aimed at reducing fragmentation and maximizing the impact of P-20 activities by faculty, students, and staff through better coordination of these efforts; and support for growth and development of an aerospace cluster in a distressed region of the state, through workforce education, R&D partnerships, regional branding, and stimulation of entrepreneurship.
enngagement with our communities and regions has always been the defining characteristic of America’s top public universities,” said NIU President Douglas D. Baker. “To be held up as one of the best in this endeavor, in the company of some of our country’s finest institutions, is a tremendous honor.
“Like our Carnegie designations, the APLU title defines a level of excellence in how we serve our community and our region,” said  Baker. “It further affirms to students and their families that NIU is on the cutting edge of real-world education.”