Our Staff

Administrative Team

Andrea Radasanu, Ph.D.
Director, University Honors

I am so pleased to be director of the University Honors Program. It is very exciting to lead the program in encouraging academic excellence and enhanced educational experiences, while fostering a close-knit and inclusive community of Huskies that will last well beyond graduation.

In my faculty role, I study the history of political philosophy and teach courses that focus on liberalism, democratic theory and the ethics of war and span both ancient and modern political thought. I am devoted to enriched undergraduate education in and out of the classroom. Among other activities in this arena, I am editor-in-chief of the online undergraduate journal Compass: An Undergraduate Journal of American Political Ideas. I am proud to have won the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2012 and the Honors Great Professor Award in 2019.

Please visit us in the Campus Life Building to learn how we can provide you with transformative academic, co- and extra-curricular experiences.

Edye Cowan, M.S.Ed.
Associate Director of Academic Strategic Planning

As the associate director of academic strategic planning, my work includes collaborating with NIU colleges and campus offices to promote and advance the University Honors Program. I serve as one of the program advisors and supervise Honors Fellows. In addition, I support students as they complete their Senior Honors Capstone projects.

Before moving to Illinois in 2009, I worked as a teacher in the K-12 public education system in Shiprock and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and concluded my teaching career as an inclusion specialist in Davis, California. I earned my bachelor's degree from New Mexico State University in elementary education with an endorsement in special education and my master's degree in adult and higher education at NIU.

After being part of the NIU Honors Program for several years, it has been my privilege to mentor students as they work to meet their professional and personal goals and complete honors program requirements. I encourage interested students to meet with me to explore the wonderful opportunities and experiences available to them in the program!

Connie Storey, M.S.Ed.
Associate Director of Scholarships and Fellowships

As the associate director of scholarships and fellowships, I am here to help students search for and apply for scholarships specific to honors and fellowships to help with graduate school. My goal is to help students gain the experiences they need and pair them with the right mentors to make them competitive to obtain funding. I also work with students to help them with EYE grants or alternative funding. Additionally, I work with McKearn Fellows to help them develop their research projects or find mentors, complete their research and obtain the funding they need.

I received my bachelor's degree in business management and my master's degree in adult and higher education here at NIU. I have also worked here full-time for over 10 years. I have a passion for NIU and helping students succeed. I am confident that if I do not know the answer, I can find someone who does!

Ashlyn Straka
Assistant Director of Programming and Communications

As the assistant director of programming and communication, I organize co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for University Honors students, manage the Honors House living-learning community, and oversee the Honors Connect 10 as well as alumni-related programming. In addition, I manage all of the University Honors social media accounts, newsroom, and communication/promotion strategies like our weekly updates and alumni newsletters.

I received my bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and then came to NIU and earned my master's degree in higher education and student affairs. I started my professional career here as well working as a residence hall director before transitioning to working in this role.

I am so excited to be part of the Honors Program community and look forward to working with you all!

Ryan Downum
Program Advisor

As the program advisor, I advise University Honors students on honors requirements, provide support and help connect students to the wonderful resources available on campus to ensure their success in the program and at NIU. I also assist in promoting and advancing the University Honors Program.

Prior to joining NIU, I taught first-year writing/composition at the community college and university level. I received my associate degree from the College of Lake County, my bachelor’s degree in creative writing with a minor in history from Knox College, and my master’s degree in creative writing-poetry from the University of Idaho.

I am so excited to join the Honors and NIU communities. I look forward to working with and getting to know you all and assisting in whatever ways I can to ensure you successfully meet your academic, professional and personal goals!

April Buckley
Administrative Aide

I'm currently the administrative aide in the University Honors Program. I was an RFP Manager in my last role. My professional background spans over 25 years in several different environments. Property management, association, political, public and financial. I'm excited to be here assisting the department and watching the students excel.

Faculty Advisers

Bart Sharp, Ph.D.
Faculty Adviser to the Honors House

I currently hold a position as the Mike and Kristina McGrath Professor of Entrepreneurship at NIU. In this role, I teach courses in strategic management and entrepreneurship to both undergraduate and MBA students and conduct research on corporate innovation and research methodologies.

My academic journey began with an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from Purdue University. It continued with an MBA from Middle Tennessee State University, which I earned in their evening program while I worked as an R&D engineer for the Aerostructures Corporation (now Triumph Aerostructures – Vought Aircraft Division). That eventually led me to return to Purdue for my Ph.D. in strategic management at the Krannert School of Management and then on to NIU.

My involvement with the honors program began when I joined the University Honors Committee shortly after becoming a member of the College of Business faculty here in 2008. I have been a member of the committee ever since, including a lengthy tenure as chair. I have also had the pleasure of working with a number of outstanding honors students in mini-sections of my Strategic Management course, overseeing a couple of capstone projects and attending honors events over the years. I'm excited to have this opportunity to do even more as a faculty adviser to the Honors House. I look forward to meeting you all.

Madelyn Anderson, M.A.
Faculty Adviser to the Honors House

I am an instructor in the Department of Communication, and I have been teaching at NIU since 1992. A native of Wyoming, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in music from Augustana College, Rock Island, and graduated with distinction from NIU with a Master of Arts in communication and a graduate emphasis in women's studies. In the honors program, I teach a public speaking course with an emphasis in service learning. I have been coordinator of the COMS 100 program, pre-COMS adviser and coordinator of the COMS 100 Speech Contest. In 2015, I was awarded the "Great Professor" award by the University Honors Program.

Prior to NIU, I acquired an extensive background in arts administration. I worked for a Boston-based performing artist agency, as a graphic artist for newspapers in the west and midwest, and was a contributing writer to the Augustana alumni magazine. I was the director of audience development at Augustana's public radio station before being named the director of cultural events for the college. During this time, I received statewide recognition from the Illinois Arts Council for being the top presenters' grant recipient. I was appointed to the IAC's Presenters' Development Panel and conducted on-site evaluations of performing arts venues throughout Illinois. While at NIU, I have provided long-time volunteer support for local organizations, including the Sycamore Music Boosters, for which I developed the "SHS Music Hall of Fame" program.

Contact Us

University Honors Program 
Peters Campus Life Building 110
DeKalb, IL 60115


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