A message from Dean Derryl Block

Northern Illinois University College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Derryl Block.

Dear CHHS Students:

Perhaps more than other NIU students, the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) students are keenly aware of the importance of our response to the COVID19 pandemic. As future health and human services leaders, you are training to be on the frontlines of such a crisis. It is my hope that the lessons learned during this time will make you all stronger, smarter, and well prepared for your future.

I want to thank each of you for your patience during the past weeks. Some of you have been able to continue in clinical and practicum experiences during the past weeks. And others, I’m sure, have been anxious to learn how you will continue your clinicals, practicums, labs, internships and other experiential learning. Our outstanding faculty and staff have used the extra time to explore the university-provided resources and seek additional tools to develop the best solutions to deliver effective learning opportunities. We’re also part of a nationwide effort to meet these challenges.  The faculty, staff and I have been in regular communication with our colleagues at other institutions to share best practices including virtual simulations, telehealth, synchronous virtual lectures, and working in virtual laboratory activities.

The university has done an excellent job of compiling a lot of useful information in one place at niu.edu/updates. In particular there are some very useful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on topics like housing, dining halls, commencement, international students, and more.

As President Freeman said in her announcement last week, “this is not how everyone pictured their spring semester, especially our graduating seniors.” CHHS’s schools and programs are working on ways to help you get the most out of the rest of this incredibly challenging semester, and I appreciate your openness to our efforts. Further, I encourage you to reach out to your faculty for guidance, to seek clarification and comfort, and to recognize the work that they are doing. As each of us, students, parents, faculty and staff alike, are navigating this crisis, your continued patience is important and valued.

It is likely you have been drawn to your field of study because of your compassion, empathy and desire to make the world a healthier, happier place. I encourage you to keep your goals in mind, and continue to use the critical skills, patience and kindness that has helped you succeed so far. Together we will learn from this experience and come away with stronger character and better for having endured.

Stay safe and well.


Derryl Block, Dean
College of Health and Human Sciences
Northern Illinois University

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