Leadership Insight

A Message From Our President: NLU Stands With Our Community

Dear NLU Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. I am so saddened by the trauma, pain, sorrow, rage, frustration, and hopelessness that so many in our community and across our country are feeling. Over the last several weeks, we have witnessed the senseless, unconscionable murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, as well as numerous other acts of violence—lethal and not—against Black people in our nation. We know by now that these are not isolated incidents, but are part of a familiar pattern. They are part of the fatal, wearisome injustice of the society we live in, reflecting the chronic inequality and racial divisions that have deep roots in the United States, and that continue to scar this country. This inequity has been further highlighted with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has disproportionately impacted our communities of color. This past week, the long-simmering rage and frustration over all of this boiled over.   

Although we don’t all like to admit it, People of Color—and let’s be frank, especially Black people—live lives of relentlessly hostile scrutiny, and they have been telling us so for centuries. We have not listened very well, and we certainly have not sufficiently acted to change it, and we should all be feeling troubled by this. This problem belongs to all of us, as does the solution. We all have to own it, but especially leaders and those in positions of authority and influence.

In response to George Floyd’s death former President Obama stated that “….we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”  “Maddeningly normal” cannot be what we accept. 

I am feeling uneasy because the truth of injustice and inequity is ringing loudly in my head.  And while we cannot support or condone those who choose violence to hijack the message and the cause, it is critical that the message is not lost. 

The NLU family stands united against senseless acts of hate and the systemic racism that produces and perpetuates them. As an institution of higher education, we have an obligation to fight ignorance and intolerance, model inclusivity and embrace the power that diversity represents. We must stand together with everyone suffering from racism and inequity. Hate and violence cannot be part of our community.

We must support peace while we impatiently strive to be better than we are and do the hard work to be more just, more inclusive, and committed to equity. We must build a future where life is not devalued and bigotry is eliminated. And we must do all of this while empowering our democracy and supporting civility, so that together, through education and open dialogue, we may move towards a more just society.

NLU community, we grieve together today, and let us honor our grief by working to bend the arc of justice. There is much to be done and it is up to us to harness the full power of our extraordinarily diverse community. Through transparency, collective solidarity, and open dialogue, we can work toward healing the wounds of division and growing as a community, a city, and – hopefully, one day – a country.  

In the coming days I know that our entire community will be grappling with raw emotions, and I ask that we all work hard to support each other but especially our Black community.  Below I am attaching some resources that may be of help for our students, faculty, and staff in the coming days and weeks. 

This coming Wednesday, June 3, NLU will host a virtual Conversation Corner on the topic of racial injustice that anyone may attend. Join us in this safe space to discuss the injustice, protests, killings, brutality, hurt, anger, stress, etc. and what we all can do to help ourselves and our community feel empowered.

We encourage you to seek support as you need it.  Reach out to friends, family, and mental health professionals who can offer a listening ear, and please know that support is always available.

  • For students: NLU has partnered with Skylight Counseling Center to offer a variety of counseling resources. Students seeking counseling should leave a message to request an appointment at 312.261.3636 or 847.947.5656 or email counseling@nl.edu
  • For faculty and staff: Below is information for our Employee Assistance Program with Perspectives. Perspectives offers confidential assistance to employees and their families 24/7. Perspectives Online is a great website that provides information, resources and tools for a vast number of issues, ranging from parenting and child care to health and wellness, career development, workplace training and more.

Overall suggestion to faculty and staff right now:Adjust your expectations to fit these unique circumstances and be mindful of what is doable for you and your students. Identify what course content is most essential, what to prioritize, and what to let go of. What is really necessary for students to learn during this time of despair, fear, rage and uncertainty? Streamline and simplify as much as possible. Look at this term as Trauma Teaching – do no harm.


Nivine Megahed, Ph.D.


A Response to Chase Mielke’s “A Letter to New Teachers”


by Carla L. Sparks
assistant professor of educational leadership, National Louis University

Chase Mielke nailed it in his “A Letter to New Teachers” (2019). His advice to new teachers on staving off burnout is exactly on point, based upon my own experiences as an educator over the last 40 years.

Mielke admits that conditions affect our passion for teaching, and I agree with his conclusion that while conditions affect us, they do not define us. His strategies, or five “passion stokers” (p. 2), resonate with me.

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Dr. Dominick P. Ferello
National Louis University
Dr. Jeffrey Blume

There is more to going to college than academics. An exiting student must also possess high social emotional intelligence in order to attain success in their chosen field. This article discusses the advent of social emotional intelligence and strategies that may be used by institutions of higher learning to prepare these students for the challenges ahead.

Higher Learning, Emotional Intelligence, Social Emotional Intelligence, Educational Environment, Counseling
The term Emotional Intelligence was first coined by two psychologists during the 1990s. John Meyer and Peter Salovey introduced the academic community to this concept in an article they had written for a small academic journal. Meyer and Salovey (1990) defined emotional intelligence as a keen sense of social awareness that is coupled with the ability to understand and monitor one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others. An individual who possesses a high emotional intelligence will then use the identified and observed emotions to react appropriately to the situation at hand. When utilized consistently, emotional intelligence can support better student decision making on social and academic issues. Continue reading »

The Expanding Universe of Educational Leadership Standards Cross-walking the 2015 PSEL Standards and 2018 ISTE Standards


by Stuart Ives Carrier
associate professor, National Louis University

Since the dawn of the 21st century and the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), [2002], education leaders at school and district levels have seen their work profoundly reframed by national policies with sharply elevated expectations, accountability, and pressures on district officers, principals, teachers and school children.

NCLB was replaced in 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which assured sustained leadership accountability while emphasizing higher state-driven academic standards focused on the expanded scope of preparing American students for success in two tracks: college preparation and career readiness.

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The Importance and Complexity of Principal Leadership

by Marie Whelan, Ed.D.
chief HR officer, Hillsborough County Public Schools & adjunct professor, National Louis University

The role of the school principal has evolved over the past century from school manager dealing with the status quo to innovative instructional leader. The role has shifted from following up on requirements and keeping order to demonstrating collaborative instructional practices that ensure all learners demonstrate mastery of rigorous learning benchmarks. 1

Today’s new leaders are expected to be equipped with a new skill set to ensure our new generation of learners will be competitive in a global society. 2  The adjectives to describe the effective principal is an exhaustive list that leaves only the fearless to meet the challenge.

Numerous studies have been conducted and millions of dollars spent studying these new leadership expectations and how to best support these evolutionary leaders to meet the daily challenges in the role as effective school principal.

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Reflection on Changing the Landscape of Professional Learning

by Susan Moxley, Ed.D.
adjunct professor, National Louis University

The new normal for a school district is to operate and progress in a world of constant change. In fact, it is coming at leaders at a rapid pace which makes it challenging to keep up and maneuver through the change process in a proactive way. Too many times, leaders find themselves in a spiraling circle of reaction after reaction, trying to get out of the reactive mode. Wrapping your arms around the change process is challenging as best. This deals with a management process that is critical to getting the right work done.

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Leading by Empowerment A Leader’s Suggestion

by Jonathan Grantham, Ed.D.
deputy superintendent of Marion County Public Schools and adjunct professor at National Louis University

A topic that has always fascinated me within leadership is power. I know that might sound a bit strange, but I always wanted to know how power was earned and how leaders can use their positions of power to truly make positive change.

I have witnessed people, throughout my 21-year career, misuse their power. I have watched it corrupt people. I have seen power destroy organizational culture. I have observed power destroy personal relationships. However, I have seen people use power beautifully as well.

I have worked for people who truly understood the significance of their position and enabled others to lead and think freely. I have been fortunate enough to closely witness district leaders honor their colleagues and share their power. I have watched superintendents trust in their people and empower others around them. This brief discussion is intended to define power, to identify where power comes from, to discuss the ugly terms of power, to embrace the appropriate ways to use power, and to use power to lead and guide others to positive success.

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A Quest to Define Competencies for Top School Leaders

by Jim Schott
professor emeritus, National Louis University

Seven years ago, I decided to write a book about the leadership and management competencies superintendents and other top school and district leaders might need to be successful in today’s world. And the first thing I did was contact Dr. Linton Deck.

Deck was one of most intelligent and knowledgeable educational leaders I had ever met. He was a voracious reader who knew so much about almost any subject or topic one might raise. He was always interesting and ready to tell a great story—as well as some good clean jokes. And he continuously was on a mission to discover new information and ways to use it.

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Phi Delta Kappan Publishes NLU’s Azcoitia on Leading Community Schools

Many people are attracted to the idea of community schools, but starting one is not as simple as opening a health clinic and instituting partnerships with local businesses, civic groups and seniors, cautioned  NLU’s Carlos Azcoitia, Ed.D., distinguished professor of practice within the National College of Education, in an article in Phi Delta Kappan’s February issue.

It takes a battery of leadership skills and abilities to helm a community school, wrote Azcoitia, along with co-authors Ted Purinton, Ed.D., former director of NLU’s National College of Education’s department of educational leadership, and alum Karen Carlson,  Ph.D. Phi Delta Kappa is a professional association for educators, and the Kappan is its magazine. Continue reading »

Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement Leaders Graduate at NLU Nonprofit professionals completed course at NLU

Seventeen Chicago-area non-profit professionals came together June 8 at National Louis University to celebrate their graduation from the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement’s Nonprofit Leadership Program.

NLU and HACE partnered to develop the curriculum for and present the program, which is designed to develop leadership and professional skills in emerging non-profit leaders. Continue reading »