FY 2021 University Goals

Annually, NIU's president and the Board of Trustees agree to a series of goals for the president and university, along with metrics to measure success in achieving those outcomes. The 2021 goals were approved at the November 12, 2020 Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees. Previous years' goals for 2019 and 2020 are also available.

View Detailed 2021 University Goals

Since March 2020, the faculty, staff and students at NIU have dealt with the immense changes, both personal and professional, caused by COVID-19. Although NIU will continue to respond to this disruption, we must now look beyond the present to position NIU for future success. The FY21 goals articulate how we will do so over the next year.

These goals were created in alignment with NIU's mission, vision and values as well as with the Strategic Action Planning Framework presented to the Board of Trustees and the university community in FY20. Together, they emphasize the following six themes: empowerment and shared responsibility; student recruitment, student success and student experience; academic excellence and curriculum innovation; diversity, equity and inclusion; research, artistry and engagement; and resource development and fiscal responsibility.

The goals reflect feedback received from the university community, including opportunities to position NIU to recover from the financial shock of the pandemic and emerge stronger. They connect cost containment and investment decisions to our enduring commitments to strategic enrollment management, equity in attainment, inclusive academic excellence and a robust research and innovation portfolio.

Additionally, the FY21 goals were constructed recognizing that NIU's dedicated faculty and staff are already balancing extraordinary responsibilities in a demanding time. The intention is not only to direct focus to the university's most essential priorities but also to encourage members of our community to set aside or suspend less-essential activities.

As a research institution, NIU appreciates the breadth of approaches to what constitutes evidence in various disciplines. The metrics in this plan reflect the diversity of methodology and include both quantitative (e.g., numerical targets or statistical analysis that measure specific numerical outcomes) and qualitative measures (e.g., focus groups that provide insight on how people experience NIU). The assessment of NIU's success will be guided by effective practice research and expertise about how best to measure progress on our goals.

In this context, as we continue the process of moving to multiyear planning, the university will pursue the actions described below to assess and align programs and functions with NIU's strategic priorities. In some instances, supporting work is already underway due to previously announced workgroups and plans. In others, final action will be taken after further analysis, data collection and collaborative decision-making across departments, colleges and divisions. Unquestionably, the current economic and public health crises are accelerating trends that were already in place, and we must respond.

  1. Use expertise available through internal and external partnerships to address our organizational need to align decision-making at all levels with the university's strategic priorities, keeping both immediate and long-term goals in mind as we respond to complex, rapidly changing circumstances.
  2. Continue to identify and revise practices, policies and procedures that need to be transformed, simplified or eliminated.
  1. Create an NIU-specific set of social mobility outcomes data to complement our current narrative-driven approach and include outcomes-related content in promotional materials shared with prospective students and families, as well as current and prospective employees, partners and donors.
  2. Maintain focus on closing gaps in degree attainment for low-income, Black and Latinx students using the institutional strategies, objectives and tactics presented in our Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Plan, SEM Accountability Plan, and ILEA Equity plan, and look for additional ways to support NIU equity goals through participation in a new statewide collaboration of public and private sector leaders, "The Equity Working Group for Black Student Access and Success in Illinois Higher Education" and implementation of our Higher Learning Commission Quality Improvement Project.
  3. Initiate a review of the policies and practices that NIU uses to maintain an environment conducive to learning and engagement, focusing this year on those used to recognize and allocate resources (including but not limited to funding and space) to student groups and activities; and those used to address academic, residential, student conduct and disciplinary conflicts.
  1. Identify and begin to remove structural barriers that inhibit transdisciplinary scholarship and discourage curricular innovation and experimentation, appreciating that doing so might also help dismantle systems that contribute to inequitable outcomes for faculty who are Black, indigenous or people of color (BIPOC).
  2. Identify opportunities for strengthening graduate programs and enhancing the graduate student experience.
  3. Leverage lessons learned about course modalities during COVID-19 to position NIU to provide expanded degree opportunities for adult learners and place-bound students and respond to workforce needs of region and state.
  1. Expand social justice education and training to include anti-racism training and continue promoting social justice topics and programs that convey NIU's values and support an environment where Huskies can grow, achieve, serve and transform themselves and their communities.
  2. Continue our efforts to increase the recruitment, hiring, retention and professional advancement of diverse faculty, staff and administrators, not only by sustaining and strengthening the recruitment, retention and onboarding practices that we have found to be effective, but also by recognizing and removing additional barriers that impede the success of NIU employees who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  3. Create a new webpage that not only highlights NIU's diversity, equity and inclusion goals but also shares our plans and progress. The intent is to enhance transparency and accountability, as well as to provide a place for members of the NIU community to become more engaged in this work.
  1. Launch a strategic development team comprised of members from the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships, Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development and University Advancement to link university expertise, networks and philanthropy and mobilize collective assets to advance institutional research, artistry and engagement priorities.
  1. Continue to refine and implement a multi-year budget and financial planning process. In recognition of the complex, rapidly changing circumstances associated with the global pandemic, we commit to engaging the Board of Trustees quarterly to communicate the status and progress toward targets, and to communicating transparently with the university community about the financial health of NIU.
  2. Assess and modify our space use and physical footprint in light of our changing needs and in support of other strategic goals.
  3. Partner with the NIU Foundation, to finalize campaign readiness and ensure that the university begins a multiyear fundraising initiative by July 1, 2022.

Contact Dr. Freeman

Office of the President
Altgeld Hall 300

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