Susan Freeman headshot

Lisa Freeman

Northern Illinois University

As NIU’s 13th President, Lisa C. Freeman works to support all aspects of the university's mission, emphasizing NIU's enduring commitments to promoting the social mobility of our students, producing high impact scholarship and engaging with our region. She has a deep commitment to equity and inclusion and strives to create a learning environment where students, faculty and staff from a wide range of backgrounds feel welcome and included. President Freeman also believes that relationships are resources, and seeks continually to strengthen NIU student opportunities, operational efficiency and scholarly pursuits through strategic partnerships.

Before her appointment in September 2018, President Freeman served as NIU’s Executive Vice President and Provost, providing administrative oversight and programmatic direction to Academic Affairs, Human Resources Services and Student Affairs. Freeman came to NIU in 2010 as NIU's vice president for research and graduate studies and a professor of biology.

Prior to joining NIU, Freeman spent 16 years at Kansas State University where she served in leadership and faculty roles, including associate dean for research and graduate programs for College of Veterinary Medicine, and associate vice president for innovation for K-State Olathe. In these roles, Freeman served as a principal investigator on research and training grants; taught courses in pharmacology and the responsible conduct of research; acted as a mentor to numerous graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and early-career faculty members; and was responsible for fostering partnerships across academia, industry and the public sector to promote educational attainment, economic engagement and workforce development.

Freeman earned a bachelor's degree in 1981, then a master's degree and a doctor of veterinary medicine in 1986, from Cornell University. She went on to earn a doctor of philosophy at The Ohio State University in 1989, and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. In 2004-05, Freeman was a Fellow of the American Council on Education hosted by the University at Buffalo.

Freeman's research focused on the role of ion channels in the development of diseases such as gastrointestinal ulcers and ovarian cancer as well as on strategies for encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration. Agencies that funded her work included the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Freeman has written more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, invited reviews and book chapters. She has presented research findings and discussed effective strategies for engaging trainees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research at national and international conferences.

Freeman has been widely recognized for contributions to her profession and to the communities where she has lived and worked. Among those honors are being named the Outstanding Veterinarian of the Year by the Association for Women Veterinarians, acknowledged by local businesses as a Castle Bank Community Leader, and invited to join the influential leaders of The Chicago Network. She currently serves the Association of Public and Land Grant Colleges as a board member and the Executive Committee Chair of Commission on Information, Measurement, and Analysis (CIMA). Dr. Freeman is also on the boards of Altus Academy and the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association.