Educator in Residence

Our Educator in Residence program invites successful alumni to give back to NIU and the College of Education by sharing practical tips and tools to prepare students for life after graduation.

P.J. Fleck
Spring 2021

P.J. Fleck (B.S.Ed. Elementary Education, ’04) is head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team.

Since his Jan. 6, 2017 hiring, he has led the Gophers to unprecedented heights: In 2019, the team won 11 games for the first time since 1904, securing seven Big Ten victories for the first time in school history, beating two Top 10 teams, winning a Jan. 1 bowl game (the first since 1962) and ending the season ranked No. 10 in the country.

Fleck previously was head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos, which finished the 2016 season with a No. 12 national ranking, a 13-1 record, a conference championship and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.

His résumé includes stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NIU, Ohio State and Rutgers. He also is the author of "Row the Boat: A True Story with Principles and Lessons to Transform Your Culture" with Jon Gordon.

Read more about P.J. Fleck's visit.



Jim Suttie
Fall 2020

With two degrees from the NIU Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Jim Suttie, '70, M.S., '71, built an award-winning career grounded in his knowledge of how the human body achieves and maintains peak performance and how to teach that to others into an award-winning career. The internationally respected golf instructor and coach has created success stories at all levels of the sport over the last five decades, thanks to his strong foundation of pedagogy provided by the College of Education in his hometown of DeKalb.

His ongoing legacy includes lessons at country clubs and teaching facilities across the country as well as presentations at top conferences around the world. During his virtual return to his alma mater as our Educator in Residence, the 2000 PGA National Teacher of the Year will offered his prized expertise.

Read more about Jim Suttie's visit.

Jim Suttie

John M. Dunn
Fall 2019

John M. Dunn, a longtime leader and administrator in higher education, is currently in his second term as interim chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SICU), where he previously served as provost, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and interim chancellor.

Dunn returned to SIUC in January following his 2018 retirement as president of Western Michigan University, which he led for 10 years. His career also includes faculty and administrative appointments at the University of Utah, Oregon State University and the University of Connecticut.

The two-time NIU College of Education alum, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education, is internationally recognized for his research on the long-term health of people with disabilities.

His visit included speaking to students in our sport management program, chatting with students in our higher education and student affairs program about their career aspirations and delivering a keynote address covering his many decades in higher education.

Read more about John Dunn's visit.

NIU President Lisa Freeman, College of Education Dean Laurie Elish-Piper and KNPE Department Chair Chad McEvoy present Educator in Residence, John M. Dunn, with a certificate after his keynote address.

Denise A. Bunning
Spring 2019

Denise A. Bunning, an educator, support group leader and advocate on behalf of children with food allergies, is the co-founder of MOCHA (Mothers of Children Having Allergies).

The parent (with husband, Dave) of two adult sons with food allergies serves on the Board of Governors for Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the Founders’ Board of Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and the Women’s Board of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

In 2010, the M.S.Ed. graduate in special education served on a committee organized by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health to author Guidelines for Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Illinois Schools, which shaped school board policies statewide.

Her visit raised the awareness of our future teachers regarding food allergies, demonstrated the proper and life-saving use of epinephrine auto-injectors and delivered a keynote address on her personal journey through the world of food allergies.

Read more about Denise Bunning’s visit.

College of Education Dean Laurie Elish-Piper presents Denise Bunning with her Educator in Residence certificate after her keynote address in the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

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