Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

John Peters
John Peters


President writes to campus about surveys
meant to improve students’ NIU experience

January 28, 2008

Dear students and colleagues,

Every successful university realizes the incalculable value of feedback from all members of its campus community. To that end, NIU is about to embark on a series of surveys designed to tell us how we are doing and where we need to focus resources and efforts in the years ahead. 

The first set of surveys will begin two weeks from today, and will focus on the student experience as viewed by faculty, staff and students themselves. As outlined in my State of the University Address last fall, this baseline assessment is intended to identify both strengths and weaknesses in our overall teaching and learning environment. It is a critical component of our Great Journeys Strategic Plan initiative, and I urge all of you to participate.

A second set of surveys currently under development will assess faculty and staff attitudes on a much broader range of topics. That is targeted for fall and will delve more deeply into issues that affect employment satisfaction at all levels.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 11, all students, faculty and staff will have a two-week opportunity to complete an online survey that will measure our campus climate. We need to understand what our students think of their experiences here, and how they think key investments might improve that experience.

There are no right or wrong answers. Most of the survey is made up of statements; respondents will rate the level of importance, and their level of satisfaction, regarding each item.

Statements range from the sense of belonging most students feel here and whether faculty care about students as individuals to the approachability of staff, the security of campus and the availability of financial aid.

Graduate and non-traditional students will find the survey’s items geared toward their situations, many of which involve living far away from campus, working full-time jobs and tending to family responsibilities.

I must clarify the crucial role of faculty and staff in this survey. We will respond with our perceptions of how students experience NIU. This will show us possible gaps in the perceived quality and quantity of services; if we think we’re doing well and our students disagree, we quickly can identify those areas in need of improvement.

To members of the faculty: I encourage you to make time during a class period for your students to take the survey. Only 20 to 30 minutes are needed. If this is not possible, please promote the survey’s importance to your students.

This survey is not mandatory, but I urge all of you to give us your honest input. When you find the survey invitation in your GroupWise e-mail, please participate. The message should come to your mailbox, but if you do not see it there Monday, Feb. 11, check your “junk mail” file.

All responses are strictly confidential and will be added to a data file created by Noel-Levitz, the company that created the survey. All information sent to NIU by Noel-Levitz will be reported out by groups (students, faculty and staff).

Finally, remember that all Great Journeys begin with one step. Please help NIU to take a giant leap forward through your opinions.

Thank you,

John G. Peters