NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Information Brochure 2017

Bernard J. Harris, Chair
John Wolfskill, Assistant Chair
Elizabeth Buck, Office Adm.

The information contained here is being circulated in the hope that it will answer most of the questions you may have concerning classroom and department procedures. Please read this booklet carefully and feel free to request additional information or amplification from us or from the department staff.


Main Office Hours

The department office, located in Watson 320, (intercom #00) will be open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Mail is picked-up from the department office at about 10:30 a.m. daily. Incoming mail is distributed at about 11:30 a.m. Each faculty member has been assigned a lock-style mailbox which is accessible from the Commons Room (Watson 322). Packages too large to fit inside an individual box will be placed on the floor beneath the mailboxes inside the department office. Notice will be given when this is done.

Payroll checks

The University requires direct deposit of pay checks. You will be paid on the fifteenth and last day of every month.


The department office will type material for all faculty members according to the following prioritized list:
  1. Examinations and syllabi for coordinated multisection courses. Usually a one week turnaround time is needed.
  2. Examinations and syllabi for courses not covered by number 1.

A PINK request form must be completed and attached to material to be typed and then placed in the typing tray. For security purposes, exams are to be placed in the 3rd drawer of the 3rd filing cabinet next to Elizabeth. A minimum of two working days should be allowed for most requests, two weeks for papers and manuscripts. However, during peak periods (semester start-up, mid- term, and just before finals) more time will be required.

Some Comments from Office Staff:

Photocopying and Duplicating

A BLUE duplicating request form must be completed and attached to materials to be photocopied or duplicated and then placed in the duplicating tray. Most requests can be accommodated within three days. Requests made during peak periods or which are unusually large may require more time. For security reasons, exams to be duplicated are to be left in the 3rd drawer of the 3rd filing cabinet next to Elizabeth. Completed exams will be stored for pick-up in the 4th and 5th drawer of the same filing cabinet.

Our photocopying budget is extremely limited. Please restrict your requests to necessary items. We cannot copy books, or book-length manuscripts without special authorization. If the work requested is to be charged to a grant, note the grant number in the "Special Instructions'' area of the request form. Document Services also can fill your request and charge it to your grant account. See Elizabeth for details.

A duplicating machine is available in the front of the Math Office (Watson 320) for faculty and teaching assistant's use.

You must obtain written permission from the copyright holder before reproducing materials for your classes. You may be held liable for copyright infringements.

All office/duplicating equipment in WH 376B, except the photocopier are to be operated by administrators or office personnel only. The copy card and log book are available in the main office.

Other things to consider:

  • Page numbers help eliminate confusion and reduce the time required to process your requests.
  • Originals should be clean, black and white copies.
  • Pencil does not duplicate well.
  • Back-to-Back printing is available.
  • Color paper is available.
  • Plan ahead, especially during exam times.

    Duplicating Comments:


    Our telephone budget is limited. Calls should only be placed to areas where e-mail is not available and when U.S. Mail is not timely. Local calls to the DeKalb-Sycamore area will be charged $.02 per minute. It is expected that the department will be reimbursed for local/long- distance calls which are personal. In the case of personal calls there is a charge of $5.00 per month in addition to the reimbursement.

    The department has voice mail in all faculty offices. To set-up your voice mail please see Elizabeth.


    The department has a fax machine. The fax number is 753-1112. If you want to send a fax, please fill out the "Fax Transmission Cover Sheet'' and place it in the FAX Tray that is located on the receptionist's desk. You can also use the program faxcover on the Suns.

    Outgoing faxes will be sent twice a day by one of our office staff (do not expect the office staff to send them immediately or on a while-you-wait basis). Incoming faxes will be placed in your mailbox.

    The department will keep a log of all faxes sent. It is expected that the department will be reimbursed for personal faxes. If the outgoing fax is to be charged to a grant, please note the grant number on the cover sheet.


    Teaching Schedules

    Tentative schedules for the fall semester have been distributed. Although most of these assignments are firm, some changes may have to made before the first day of classes. Professor Wolfskill will inform you of any changes in your schedule, should they occur.


    Desk copies of most textbooks are available from the department office. Check with TOM before taking any textbook from the office. We do not stock enough books to be able to give duplicate copies to instructors who already have one.

    Course Coordinators

    In most courses with multiple sections, a faculty member has been designated as the course coordinator. The individual so designated is responsible for coordinating the presentation and testing of the subject matter in all sections of the course and is responsible for informing those teaching the course of any special problems that may arise during the semester. By meeting together with some regularity, the instructors teaching the course can compare teaching methods, and can help each other improve the quality of teaching.

    The course coordinator is responsible for preparing both the syllabus and the final exam for the course. Copies of both of these documents should be given to Professor Kong, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and to Tom.

    Teaching Assistants

    In some courses either undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants have been assigned to conduct the recitation sections. If you are teaching such a course, you should meet every week or so with your assistant(s) to provide them guidance and to coordinate your joint teaching. Assistants are expected to attend the lectures of courses in which they are assisting unless released from this duty by Professor Thunder, the Director of Graduate Studies and the instructor.

    Program Assessment

    A central paragraph in the university's Scope and Mission Statement addresses the institution's goals for its graduates. These goals include several aspects of learning which are of particular importance to a mathematical science major. These goals include, but are not limited to, competency in analytic thought and the means of inquiry, communication and organization of knowledge, and familiarity with new technology.

    The Department of Mathematical Sciences continually assesses the effectiveness of our program (for majors) with regard to these goals. This is a reviewing process of our total educational plan for majors, and this process of review is called program assessment. Again, this is an assessment of our programs' effectiveness, not an individual assessment of students' performance. We draw conclusions by examining the work of all of our students, but draw global conclusions. Specifically, we assess our program by evaluating its performance in developing five abilities in students. These are as follows:

    1. to engage effectively and efficiently in problem solving;
    2. to reason rigorously in mathematical arguments;
    3. to understand and appreciate connections between different areas of mathematics and other disciplines;
    4. to communicate mathematics clearly in ways appropriate to career goals; and
    5. to think creatively at a level commensurate with career career goals.

    We collect data of three kinds to make this evaluation:

    Using information from these two components of the assessment procedure, the department will then initiate modifications in its programs and forward a report on its work to the Liberal Arts and Sciences College Curriculum Committee.


    Class Lists and Grade Rolls

    All faculty assignments to classes have been entered in MyNIU. You may look at your Faculty Center to see the courses assigned to you, and rosters for each class. These rosters are updated instantly when adds or drops are done during the first week of classes. However, roster changes after that time may take several days to be displayed.

    Toward the end of each semester, grade rolls from Registration and Records will be made available to you through MyNIU along with instructions for filling them out.

    The grading systems are detailed at some length in the current undergraduate and graduate catalogs. Some aspects of the systems, however, deserve special mention here.

    Withdrawal from a course (Undergraduate)

    A student may withdraw from a course up to the end of the eighth week of a semester, the fourth week of a half-semester course or the third week of a summer session. A W is recorded for withdrawals properly processed prior to the established deadlines. (A W is not a grade. It has no effect on semester or cumulative GPA.)

    A student may withdraw from a course after the established deadlines only in exceptional cases supported by acceptable evidence of serious illness or other major nonacademic personal difficulty. Approval of a course withdrawal after the deadline may be granted only by the Academic Dean in the student's major college office. If such approval is given, a W will be recorded for the course if the student is passing at the time of withdrawal; if the student is not passing at that time a grade of F will be recorded.

    All requests for withdrawal from a course must be initiated and processed through the office of the college in which the student is pursuing a major. (Non-degree students initiate withdrawals through the college of their academic interest.)

    The number of semester hours from which native students may withdraw is seventeen.

    Withdrawal deadlines for each academic term are listed in the Class Schedule Booklet for that term.

    Drop or withdrawal from a course (Graduate)

    All drops of or withdrawals from courses must be accomplished before the applicable deadlines. Drop and withdrawal procedures and schedule-change deadlines are indicated in the Schedule of Classes. It is possible for a student to drop a course prior to or early in the course. When a course is dropped, no record of the enrollment appears on the student's record. After the drop deadline, a period is specified during which the student may withdraw from the course; the course will appear on the student's record. For each course in which a student is doing passing work (C or better in a graduate course) at the time of withdrawal, a W will be received. For any course in which a student is not doing passing work, an F will be received.

    Incompletes (Undergraduate)

    The grade of I may be given when a student is unable to complete the course requirements or to take the final examination. It is assigned at the discretion of the instructor when illness, death in the immediate family or other unusual and unforeseeable circumstances not encountered by the other students in the class prevent completion of the course requirements by the end of the term. An incomplete should not be given unless the student has done passing work to that point. Also, an incomplete should not be given to a student who needs to make up more than half of the work in the class; such a student should be advised to withdraw from the course.

    An I grade must be cleared by the end of the tenth week of the next Fall or Spring semester in which the student enrolls in the university unless extended by the instructor. An extended incomplete must be cleared at least within a year of when the grade was assigned. Any incomplete not removed within a year will be administratively changed to F.

    The instructor who assigns a grade of I must file with the department office, at the time grades are submitted, one copy of a statement of work that must be completed to remove the I. Forms are available in the office for this purpose. For further details see page 74 of the 2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog.

    Incompletes (Graduate)

    Incompletes may be given to graduate students at the discretion of the instructor. A statement must be filed with the department office detailing the work to be completed and the deadline for fulfillment. The successful removal of an Incomplete must be done within one semester, whether or not the student is enrolled. If the grade is not changed within this period, a permanent Incomplete will be recorded.

    Repeating a Course (Undergraduate)

    A student may not repeat a course taken at Northern Illinois University in which a grade of C or better was earned, unless the contrary is stated in the catalog description of the course.

    A student may repeat most courses in which a grade of D or F was earned. If this repeat commences within a 13-month period from the end of the semester in which the course was first taken, the GPA of the student will include only the grade for the second enrollment. If a student who has not earned a grade of C or better in two attempts wishes to repeat the course again, he or she must secure permission from the advising office of his or her college and the approval of the department in which the course is offered.

    If a third enrollment is approved, the GPA will include only the second and third enrollments. However, all grades received in the course will appear on the student's transcript.

    Advisement for Students

    Each declared mathematical sciences major is assigned a faculty advisor by the department. In the case of graduate students, the advisor is Professor Thunder, Director of Graduate Studies (Watson 362). Those of you who will be advising undergraduate majors will be notified of the names of your advisees later in the semester by Professor Kong, Director of Undergraduate Studies (Watson 338).

    The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides for the advisement of all freshman and sophomores enrolled in the college. Mathematical Sciences majors at these levels should be advised only on matters concerning their major. For all other advisement they should be referred to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Advising Office (Zulauf 201).


    Faculty Absences

    Faculty members making any trip away from campus must fill out an Authorization to Travel form at least 3 days before the absence. Be sure to indicate the specific provisions made to cover the work missed and name the faculty member(s) who will teach your classes. This specifically includes attendance at conferences, symposia, and similar affairs. This information is required by Illinois Law and also for insurance purposes to protect you and your family or beneficiaries in the event of an accident while away from campus.

    Travel Vouchers

    If you have been granted approval of part or all of your expenses, submit a Travel Voucher to Elizabeth on your return to campus. Both Authorization to Travel and Travel Voucher forms will be in the white cabinet slots by the Mail station in Watson 320. These forms can be downloaded from

    Reimbursement for Travel:

    Per Diem/Meals

    Note: Per diem and meal reimbursement rates include tax and gratuity. Lunch is not a reimbursable expense. The amount is established for the purpose of setting a per meal ceiling on conference meals and meals purchased for non-State officers and employees.


  • Downstate Illinois: $60.00
  • Out-of-State
  • Out-of-Country: Actual Reasonable

    Mileage is 54 cents a mile. Receipts are required for any expense over $10.00 except for meals and mileage. Be sure to fill out your Travel Voucher promptly after you return.

    Within the State of Illinois

    Day of Departure Day of Return
    Left Between
    Hour of:
    Per Diem
    Returned Between
    Hour of:
    Per Diem
    Midnight - 5:59 a.m. $28.00 Midnight - 5:59 a.m. $7.00
    6:00 a.m. - 11:59 a.m. $21.00 6:00 a.m. - 11:59 a.m. $14.00
    Noon - 5:59 p.m. $14.00 Noon - 5:59 p.m. $21.00
    6:00 p.m. - 11:59 p.m. $7.00 6:00 p.m. - 11:59 p.m. $28.00

    Outside of Illinois

    Day of Departure Day of Return
    Left Between
    Hour of:
    Per Diem
    Returned Between
    Hour of:
    Per Diem
    Midnight - 5:59 a.m. $32.00 Midnight - 5:59 a.m. $8.00
    6:00 a.m. - 11:59 a.m. $24.00 6:00 a.m. - 11:59 a.m. $16.00
    Noon - 5:59 p.m. $16.00 Noon - 5:59 p.m. $24.00
    6:00 p.m. - 11:59 p.m. $8.00 6:00 p.m. - 11:59 p.m. $32.00

    Per Diem Allowance is allowed only when the travel period includes overnight lodging or is 18 hours or longer.

    All Supporting documents and required receipts must be attached to the form as full sheets of paper.

    Please tape small receipts and pages flat to 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper. Multiple receipts can be placed on a single sheet as long as they do not overlap, cover data or hang over the edges. Receipts must be attached to only one side of the paper.

    Only one staple or binder clip should be used to attach all documentation to the voucher.

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    Last modified: 8/15/16