CEET, College of Education Receive Transformative Gift From Alumnus' Estate
By Tony Scott

arthur graffamArthur Graffam in the 1941 Norther yearbook.

Arthur D. Graffam, a 1941 alumnus of Northern Illinois University (NIU), has posthumously made a monumental contribution to his alma mater. His estate has generously donated over $2.4 million, split between the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) and the College of Education (COE).


COE acting Dean Bill Pitney expressed deep gratitude for this support, highlighting the real-world and immersive learning opportunities it will enable.

“It is inspiring that someone who got his start at the Northern Illinois State Teachers College would turn his NIU preparation into 40 years in education, dedicating his life to preparing students while also serving as a role model for his colleagues," Pitney said. 


A DeKalb native, Graffam attended NIU, then known as Northern Illinois State Teachers College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in education. His career spanned various roles, including teaching at Morris High School in Morris, Illinois, imparting metal fabrication skills to military personnel in Norman, Oklahoma and serving as a commissioned ensign in the U.S. Navy. He married his wife, Florence, in 1948 and spent 39 years teaching at Elgin High School before retiring. Graffam passed away in 2012.


Graffam's involvement with NIU extended beyond his education. He was a key member of CEET’s Engineering and Technology Alumni Society's Board of Directors since its 1995 inception, holding the position of vice president and representing the board on the Executive Advisory Board to the Dean. Additionally, he contributed to student scholarships through the Arthur D. and Florence S. Graffam Engineering Technology Scholarship Fund.


This donation is set to make an immediate impact. A portion of the funds will establish two new programs at CEET. The first is a one-week 'bridge' program to bolster incoming students' foundational skills, covering instruction, housing, and meals at no extra cost. The second is a new course launching in fall 2024, building on the summer course's teachings. These initiatives aim to support students who might otherwise struggle, helping them to succeed and achieve long, successful engineering careers.


CEET Dean David Grewell commended the Graffam family's enduring support, "We are very grateful for the many years of support that the Graffam family provided, and we are excited that this latest gift will have an everlasting and positive impact on the college and its students.”


This transformative gift will significantly expand opportunities for scholarships, bolster research endeavors and facilitate the professional growth of the dedicated staff and faculty of both CEET and COE.