North Central College in the News

North Central experts start the fall semester in the news spotlight

Kelly Murphy

Sep 29, 2022

North Central College subject matter experts (SME) have hit the ground running this academic year as they continued to appear in media interviews throughout the month of September. From stories on gender equity, to the Russian/Ukrainian war, to talking about the College’s latest national ranking, here is a sample of North Central in the media over the past month.

Muck examines latest developments in the Russian invasion of Ukraine on WGN-TV

Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to annex occupied areas of Ukraine. Russia claims Ukrainians voted to join Russia in those areas; however, Ukraine and much of the west call referendums illegitimate. The voting on the annex was scheduled for September 27, and rumors allege that Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine seeks to be part of Russia, but developments show that the world stage believes it to be a sham.

Bill Muck, professor and chair of the political science department, interviewed with WGN-TV, where he discussed the potential annexation and its impact.

“I’ll start by saying this is not a free election and was it was not a fair election,” said Muck. “It’s in no way legal by international law. So, why is Putin doing this? I think the reason is he wants to flip the narrative and say that up until this point, we’ve talked about Russia being the aggressor invading Ukraine and so what Putin thinks he can do is argue this territory is now legitimately Russia and who’s the invader now; well, in his eyes, it’s Ukraine and NATO that are the aggressor. I don’t think the international audience will buy into that at all and I think they’ll push back. I think in some ways, Putin’s thinking about domestic audience and he’s trying to get support from the Russian people. So, completely illegal, but I think Putin is playing a different game.”

Watch the full interview on WGN-TV.

Caliendo discusses the postponement of the Jan. 6 insurrection hearing and its impact on FOX 32 Chicago

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is postponing its highly anticipated hearing because of Hurricane Ian. The hearing, when rescheduled, could conclude its presentations of investigative findings before a final report due later this year.

Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago to explain what is to come from the committee hearing and the impact of the postponement.

Watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.

Chod explains the importance of equitable gender in The 19th

In the last decade, there has been a wave of changes to women service members’ uniforms — which many experts and historians agree reflects broader efforts to improve gender equity in the military. The Air Force launched a project to develop maternity flight suits after a study found nearly 400 pregnant airmen had to wear larger flight suits during pregnancy, a situation that creates safety issues. The Navy measured hundreds of sailors this year as part of an ongoing effort to create better uniforms tailored to women. Most recently, the DEVCOM Soldier Center — the Army’s research center — announced its first-ever designs for a tactical bra.

Suzanne Chod, professor of political science, interviewed with reporter Mariel Padilla of The 19th, where she shared why representation matters, especially across different social identities, are critical to create more equitable policies

Chod noted that measures related to women soldiers’ uniforms often enjoyed bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, and that each seemingly incremental change would have a wider effect. “While these amendments may seem small in comparison to the systemic and institutional inequities in the military that need to be addressed, they make a real difference in female service members’ day-to-day lives. From hair, to better fitting uniforms, to making uniforms and other necessary apparel more affordable, these changes in policy allow female service members to feel more like themselves, to be themselves, and to do their jobs better.”

Read the full article in The 19th.

Brown shares her leadership experience on the ‘Chat in the Garden’ podcast

In her role as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics, Jessica Brown leads all efforts related to student life, including partnering with others across campus to build and strengthen an inclusive and engaged community, and ensuring that students receive the support they need to thrive at North Central College and beyond. Jessica oversees an athletics department that features 27 varsity-level sports and is one of the winningest athletics programs in NCAA Division III history with 40 team national championships.

Prior to North Central, Brown was Dean of Student Services, Engagement, and Leadership at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, where she also served as Title IX Coordinator, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach and Senior Woman Administrator.

Brown interviewed with “Chat in the Garden” podcast host Monique A.J. Smith with Blog Talk Radio about her experiences at North Central and her aspirations for her position moving forward.

Listen to the full interview on Blog Talk Radio.

North Central College’s Homecoming 2022 celebrations featured in local media

North Central College will celebrate its Cardinal community with a full schedule of events for its 2022 Homecoming Weekend. The weekend will welcome students, alumni and friends of the College back to their home-away-from-home to celebrate the Cardinal family, while introducing some new ones for all to enjoy.

The celebratory weekend saw some hyperlocal media attention across Naperville:


Caliendo provides an update on the Russia/Ukrainian War on FOX 32 Chicago

Developments continue to escalate overseas as Russian President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists to join the fight at the end of September; also seeming to hint that he could use his nuclear arsenal to protect Russia. Stateside, U.S. President Joe Biden said “the world’s blood should run cold over this invasion of Ukraine” in a condemnation of Russia, but Putin continues to show signs of expanding the conflict.

Caliendo interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago reporter Tia Ewing to discuss these latest developments.

“Moving towards reservists I think is the biggest move since World War II of Russians being compelled to fight,” said Caliendo. “This signals that if this war is going to continue for a long period of time certainly citizens in Russia are going to wonder if there’s going to be additional troops involved. Though, I have to say, the move to bring in more troops is somewhat of a signal that Putin is not ready to use nuclear weapons yet—that’s something he could have done already if he really wanted to—it’s dangerous stuff, no doubt about it, but the idea he’s going to put more ground troops on signals his plans for the next couple of months.”

Watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago (published 9-21-22 at 4:15 p.m.)

Watch the second full interview on FOX 32 Chicago (published 9-27-22 at 8:30 a.m.)


Cardinal First program featured in NewsNation & New York Post

Going to college has long been seen as the path to the middle class. Indeed, college graduates on average earn much more money over the course of their lifetime than non-college graduates. For many students, the possibility of mountains of student debt and uncertain job prospects has them avoiding college altogether. Yet some colleges, universities, and other postsecondary programs are still succeeding in taking in students from lower-income families, giving them an affordable education and graduating them into middle-class jobs.

Lower-income students are particularly vulnerable to dropping out of college, which can lead them to accrue student debt without receiving the value of a degree. That’s a problem Deborah Santiago, the chief executive officer of Excelencia in Education, has worked on for years. Many Latinos come from lower-income families and tend to have lower graduation rates than white students, and Santiago’s organization collects strategies to boost their college completion rates.

One example the organization highlights is Cardinal First, a program for first-generation students that connects them with peers, staff, and faculty who provide mentoring and support. Those mentors are drawn from both first-generation upperclassmen and faculty who were themselves first-generation students. Statistics released by the university showed over 90% of first-generation students who participated in Cardinal First were retained from their first year to the second year.

Read the full story in NewsNation.

Read the story in the New York Post.


North Central College's educational leadership degree online transition captures media attention

The School of Education and Health Sciences and School of Graduate and Professional Studies recently received approval from the Illinois State Board of Education to transition their master of education in educational leadership degree program to a 100% online delivery format. Beginning Spring 2023, the first course in the program, MEDU 500, will be presented virtually. The remaining coursework will be transitioned to online each subsequent semester.

The College’s program transition garnered hyperlocal media attention in Naperville:


Decker examines the state of the economy in the Daily Herald

Less than two months before the midterm election, with early voting about to start in Illinois, some consumers are seeking answers from experts about one of the key issues to consider as a voter: Is the economy in good shape?

Ryan Decker, professor of economics and director of the Center for Financial Literacy, interviewed with the Daily Herald, where he broke down the truth on the economic state of the nation—surging jobs market, strength of the consumer, record-high inflation rate, etc.

“"Employment is fantastic right now. Unemployment is low, which means incomes are high, or at least they're not low. Spending is still high. We're all coming out of that COVID fog and we want to go on vacations and we're spending money."

Read the full article in the Daily Herald.

Sifri shares the importance of events like ‘Send Silence Packing’ on NCTV17

More than 1,000 backpacks were laid out on North Central College’s Jefferson Lawn during National Suicide Prevention Month to help raise awareness about mental health struggles and suicide. Send Silence Packing is a traveling exhibit brought to college campuses around the country for the cause. The backpacks represent approximately the number of college students who take their lives each year, 1,100. Each backpack is donated by a family, to honor a loved one who’s died.

Tatiana Sifri, director of the Dyson Wellness Center, interviewed with Naperville Community Television (NCTV17) about why events like Send Silence Packing are important to the College’s campus community.

“It’s so critical to just bring awareness to students, staff and faculty, and our community. The second leading cause of death is suicide for college students. So, for us to have any way to remind our students and our community of how critical it is to kind of have each other’s backs,” said Sifri.

Read the full story on NCTV17.

North Central College’s national ranking garners media attention

North Central College has been named among America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report for the 28th consecutive year. The College jumped two spots from last year’s rankings to No. 17 out of 166 schools in the Best Regional Universities Midwest category. The College repeated its top 10 ranking on the Most Innovative Schools list, coming in at No. 9 in the Midwest region, and was recognized as a top performer in three other categories, including Best Value Schools (No. 34), Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 21), and Top Performers on Social Mobility (No. 61).

The recent national ranking received some media coverage:


Chod weighs in on Brittany Aldean’s controversial ‘tomboy’ commentary in Newsweek

In late August, Brittany Aldean, musical artist, made some seemingly transphobic comments in an Instagram video, where she thanked her parents for not changing her gender when she was going through her “tomboy” phase. Many critics and fans were in an uproar over her comments, but one thing that’s gotten lost in the conversation is an interrogation of the statement itself. Aldean’s post seemed to tacitly mock the parents of children who are trans or gender-questioning. Aldean claimed her words were taken out of context.

Chod interviewed with Newsweek, where she analyzed the situation.

"I have been following this closely, and am appalled, yet not surprised, by both the tone and inaccuracies of Brittany Aldean's initial comment and responses," Dr. Suzanne Chod, professor of political science and coordinator of gender and sexuality studies at North Central College. "It's another example of conflating sex and gender, and it perpetuates the narrative that parents control their children's identities."

Read the full story in Newsweek.