Interim Dean Cordes was honored on May 9, 2019 for having dedicated 36 years to NIU and the College of Law. Over the course of his career, Dean Cordes has made a wide range of contributions inside the classroom and through his leadership as an administrator. In addition, he has had a significant impact on many levels including the development of the College of Law, its students, alumni, and amongst his colleagues.
During his retirement reception, Dean Cordes received a number of tributes from faculty and alumni. Both Associate Dean Kathy Coles and Associate Dean Marc Falkoff commended him on his commitment for fulfilling the role as Interim Dean over the past four years.
“We see every day how much he cares for the students. The tough decisions he has to make, he makes with empathy and always with the best interest of the law school at heart,” said Associate Dean Falkoff. Associate Dean Coles echoed that sentiment adding that “he has more than earned his retirement.”
Alumnus Matt Pfeiffer (’00) had Interim Dean Cordes as a law professor. Matt has also had the pleasure of working alongside of Dean Cordes when he served as President of the NIU Law Alumni Council and again in his current position as Chair of the NIU Law Board of Visitors.
“I can say without question I’ve never seen anybody with as much dedication and passion as you have carried out your job as a professor, associate dean and interim dean. You’ve found ways to get the best out of faculty, students, and alumni. You have kept everybody engaged and have done so much for the University that you have definitely left it in a better place than you found it,” said Matt during his remarks at Cordes’ retirement reception.
Interim Dean Cordes began his teaching career at NIU law in 1983. He has taught courses in property, land use controls, constitutional law, first amendment and environmental law. He served as interim dean of the NIU College of Law from June 2015 to June 2016 and was appointed interim dean again in June 2017. He also served a two-and-a-half-year stint as Associate Dean in the late 1990’s.
“What I soon discovered about NIU Law is the tremendous mission this school has. We provide an excellent education and our faculty are serious and accomplished scholars. But first and foremost we educate and dedicate ourselves to our students, and then later graduates, who have a remarkable record in public service and in meeting significant societal needs, both in public and private practice, often ignored by other law schools.”
According to Dean Cordes, he has attended approximately 375 faculty meetings, walked into a classroom and taught a course around 4,500 times, and taught over 2,700 students. He has also received the coveted Professor of the Year award two times – in 2001 and 2018.
As a departing gift, the College of Law faculty and staff made a donation in Dean Cordes’ name to the Hope Haven Homeless Shelter in DeKalb. In 1986, Dean Cordes was one of seven people that started Public Action to Deliver Shelter, known today as Hope Haven.
“I was extremely fortunate to get this job and from day one I have not taken it for granted,” he said. It has been a tremendous privilege to be a faculty member and an honor to have been associated with this University.”