Duster to Deliver Commencement Address
The commencement speaker for May 2012 is Northeastern's own Murrell J. Higgins Duster, associate vice president and dean for diversity and intercultural affairs and assistant professor teacher education. Dean Duster, as she is affectionately called by most at Northeastern, has been a member of the University community for more than 35 years.
Dean Duster's areas of expertise include student development, multicultural education and leadership in education. Her work throughout her career has focused on topics such as Black students in higher education, academic planning for developmental academic advising, strategies for assisting under-prepared students, conflict resolution and crisis interventions in schools.
Dean Duster has contributed significantly to the Northeastern Illinois University community. She has taken on all assignments without boundaries. Prior to her current role, she served as Dean of Academic Development, Affirmative Action Officer, Executive Director of the WorkForce Diversity Institute and Operational Administrator for El Centro.
Dean Duster is known for her success in developing partnerships between the University and local public schools, which has led to improvements in student access and retention. Northeastern Illinois University's Summer Transition Program was established by Dean Duster in 1989 and continues to serve as a national model for bringing students to the University.
As Dean Duster prepares to retire at the end of this month, her legacy will remain through her most recent work as the founding leader of the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs. Dean Duster's vision for the programs and physical space for the center is a vision for all. The center is truly a reflection of Dean Duster and her commitment to Northeastern Illinois University.
Dean Duster is also active in the community and has served on numerous committees and boards including Chicago Foundation for Education; Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Citizen's Schools Committee; Black Creativity Committee of the Museum of Science and Industry; Governor's Task Force on Reading Literacy for the State of Illinois; and Woman's Board of Rush University Medical Center.
Dean Duster completed doctoral work in educational and social policy studies, and earned an M.Ed. in early childhood education/educational administration from Loyola University Chicago and a B.A. in elementary education from Roosevelt University.