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Evanston resident named to NIU senior marketing communications post

Harlan Teller
Harlan Teller

Northern Illinois University announced that its board of trustees approved the appointment of NIU alumnus Harlan Teller to the position of interim vice president, overseeing the university’s Division of Marketing & Communications for the next two years. Teller will report to NIU President Douglas D. Baker as a member of the university’s senior leadership team.

Brad Hoey, who had been leading the division in a temporary capacity, will remain a member of the senior marketing and communications team, reporting to Teller.

Teller, 63, is taking a leave of absence from his position as a senior managing director in the strategic communications unit of FTI Consulting to take on this interim role. He will oversee the university’s branding and reputation management efforts, working closely with the university’s seven colleges and various university departments to ensure consistency and continuity in the way that NIU presents itself to all of its stakeholder groups and across all of its communications platforms.   

Teller graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1973.  He has remained involved with NIU for a number of years, having funded an endowed award for English Ph.D. students, and is currently on the NIU Alumni Association board.

“We are delighted that someone of Harlan’s national reputation and stature—and a Huskie alum—is joining us in this critical role,” said Baker. “Harlan epitomizes what we call ‘student career success’—someone who developed important skills while at NIU and has applied these skills to craft a highly successful career.”

Teller has more than 40 years of corporate public relations experience and has extensive experience in corporate positioning, community relations, financial communications, employee communications, corporate social responsibility, merger and acquisition communications, litigation, crisis management and corporate philanthropy.

“NIU played a formative role in my personal development, so I’m especially proud to come back to the university to help tell the NIU story in a compelling way to a new generation of students,” Teller said, noting that conveying the concept of a tailored, student-centered experience and how it leads to career success will be a key component of the university’s marketing efforts.  “At Northern, students can build their own lives, working with staff and faculty who really care about them as individuals and have an understanding of their own unique skills, needs and objectives.” 

The Evanston resident previously held senior local, regional and international positions at global public relations firms Burson-Marsteller and Hill and Knowlton. He joined FTI (at the time Financial Dynamics, or FD) in 2005 to build the firm’s regional presence in the Midwest. He was a vice chairman of FD before taking on his current senior managing director role at FTI in 2008. In addition to the NIU Alumni Association, he is on the board of trustees of WTTW-TV 11 and The Gateway for Cancer Research, is chairman of the board of the Center for Economic Progress and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. In 2009, the Chicago chapter of the Public Relations Society of America named Teller the PR Professional of the Year, in recognition of his career-long contributions to the public relations field.

Chartered in 1895, NIU is a comprehensive teaching and research institution with a diverse and international student body of about 20,000. Located near a vibrant research and development corridor, NIU's main DeKalb campus is 65 miles west of Chicago and 45 miles southeast of Rockford. NIU provides more than 60 undergraduate majors and 100 graduate- and doctoral- level programs in seven colleges (Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, Law, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts). The university also operates education centers in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, where working professionals can access NIU programs at convenient times and locations. The 16 NIU Huskies athletic teams compete in the Mid-American Conference at the highest NCAA Division I level.

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