Planning and Goals Overview

Northern Illinois University (NIU) is committed to planning strategically for the university’s future, in a way that welcomes participation from across campus. The goal of our planning process is to create actionable goals that align with our mission and help the university adjust to change.

In 2018, President Freeman began to revise the planning process, starting with an update to the university’s statements of mission, vision and values. The revised statements were used to inform the development of a framework for future planning efforts. Since 2020, this strategic planning framework has informed the creation of annual and multi-year goals for the university.


The 2024 goals were approved at the Dec. 7, 2023 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

View 2024 Goals (PDF)

You can also read goals for previous years:

Process Overview

Updating the Mission, Vision and Values

In 2018, President Freeman asked a group of shared governance leaders to update the university’s mission, vision and values. Our mission, vision and values provide direction for all that we do. They are recognizable in all of our plans and goals.

The group developed a revision aligned with the current culture and course of the university and incorporated feedback from across NIU. The Board of Trustees approved the revised statement in March 2019.

Establishing a Planning Framework

In 2019, President Freeman asked members of NIU’s leadership to develop a framework to guide future planning efforts. This framework was needed to help connect the university’s mission with its operational plans and objectives. The group met with academic and administrative offices to make sure the framework would accurately reflect the efforts and intentions of individuals and units at NIU.

The group also considered other planning documents, including:

The group then created a framework organized into six themes:

  • Empowerment and shared responsibility
  • Student recruitment, student success and student experience
  • Academic excellence and curricular innovation
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Research, artistry and engagement
  • Resource development and fiscal responsibility

In 2020, the President and Board of Trustees began to use these themes to focus the university’s goals.

Read the complete strategic action planning framework (PDF).

Creating University Goals

President Freeman began presenting annual and multi-year goals to the Board of Trustees in 2018.  Since 2020, these goals have been guided by the themes of our planning framework. They are an important way to describe our plans and priorities, communicate timelines and progress, and encourage shared accountability. The goal-setting process is collaborative and includes the efforts of shared governance, university leadership and the Board of Trustees.

During the fall semester, the progress the university has made on the previous year’s goals is reviewed. This assessment is then used to evaluate the performance of the president and develop goals for the upcoming year. New issues are also identified, as well as strategies to address them. After discussion with stakeholders, annual university goals are finalized and presented to the Board of Trustees for approval.

This annual planning cycle gives NIU flexibility to recognize new priorities and react to changing circumstances. For example, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis was conducted to inform the 2021 university goals. The analysis showed a need for stronger organizational alignment and a closer connection between planning and resource allocation. NIU is committed to moving in this direction.

Contact Dr. Freeman

Office of the President
Altgeld Hall 300
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