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Dean's Circle

Distinguished Donor Spotlight ~ Jeff Eckmann

NIU's Defensive Player of the Year, second-team Academic All-American, and the university's most outstanding student athlete (1973), Jeffrey "Jeff" Eckmann didn't think he'd find passion off the field in Dr. Donald Kieso's classroom. In fact, Jeff had planned on being a dentist...until the chemistry lab schedule conflicted with football. But he found himself comfortable and confident in accountancy classes, and thoroughly engaged with Professor Kieso's teaching. Jeff credits Dr. Kieso for sparking his interests in a subject matter off the field and steering him towards a career in accountancy - and today he's grateful.

Jeff is a NIU President's Circle member, Treasurer of the NIU Foundation Board of Directors, key supporter of the Donald E. Kieso Endowed Chair in Accountancy, and namesake of a locker room at the Yordon Center. "I have been involved in supporting athletics over the years, most recently as a leadership donor to the Chessick Practice Center. Enhancing the university's athletic facilities has been important for building on the success of the football program and all the other sports at NIU," explains Jeff. "I also wanted to support the College of Business, and found the perfect opportunity when I heard about the Don Kieso Endowed Chair. I knew that was something I wanted to support." Dr. Kieso had a significant impact on the beginning of Jeff's career. He placed Jeff as an intern with a major public accounting firm, which resulted in his first job.

When first moving into his professional career, Jeff felt better prepared for the real world than his peers from other top accounting schools. "We all had solid accounting theory," says Jeff, "but from a practical standpoint I was far ahead. My NIU degree and internship prepared me to go out and work. That has long been a cornerstone of NIU's accountancy program."

Jeff began his career at Price Waterhouse & Co. before moving onto BATUS Inc. and working for its related companies. Jeff served in a variety of roles including Vice President of Strategy and Planning, Vice President and Controller, and Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Jeff retired from Reynolds American Inc. in 2008 as Group President.

Jeff and his wife, Doreen, have four children and enjoy traveling to visit with them in Tampa, Las Vegas, Chicago, and outside Louisville. When they are not golfing and spending time in their Florida home, they can be found in the small Kentucky town of Finchville, helping their youngest daughter with her new passion for farming.