Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Melanie Magara, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-1681

September 27, 2007

NIU strategic plan to focus new investments
on pursuit of academic excellence

DeKalb – Northern Illinois University will invest millions of dollars over the next five years on programs to enhance academic excellence, according to NIU President John Peters.

Peters made the announcement today in his annual State of the University Address, which focused on the outcomes from the university’s year-long strategic planning process.

“Fifty years ago this year, Northern Illinois State Teachers College became Northern Illinois University,” Peters said. “Our predecessors had to define what it means to be a university. Today, we are defining what it means to be the nation’s premier global-regional public university.”

Four imperatives will drive implementation of the strategic plan, Peters said:

  1. Preserving, strengthening and extending NIU’s teaching and learning environment;
  2. Supporting multidisciplinary research that complements individual scholarly and artistic achievement;
  3. Strengthening and extending NIU’s global and regional impact; and
  4. Making NIU an institution of first choice for students, faculty and staff.

Among the specific task force recommendations Peters chose to highlight in his address were programs to improve student access to courses and majors; new research initiatives that address emerging regional needs and invite student participation; a renewed focus on regional engagement; enhanced efforts to make campus operations more environmentally friendly; investment in institutional branding and other efforts to enhance NIU’s visibility; and support for the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign.

Peters said progress on key aspects of the university’s strategic plan will be charted on a special website that tags new investments as part of the NIU Great Journeys Strategic Plan.

“For students seeking a start in life; for faculty seeking answers to enduring mysteries; and for all who seek an intellectual home, NIU is where great journeys begin,” he explained.

In addition to investments in academic programs, Peters announced new salary enhancement plans aimed at recruiting and retaining top faculty and staff. Under the Great Journeys program, faculty promotional increments – achieved in promotions from assistant to associate and from associate to full professor – will be doubled. Peters said those increases will begin this spring and will be made retroactive to include faculty promotions made over the past two years.

Additionally, NIU will establish 15 Board of Trustees Professorships with $10,000 annual stipends to reward and retain top research faculty who have involved students in their scholarly work.

All told, Peters said academic program improvements and salary enhancements called for in the Great Journeys strategic plan could total as much as $60 million over five years. A combination of new dollars, reallocations, and money from gifts and contracts has been identified to fund the program. The university’s first comprehensive capital campaign, currently in the works, could push that total even higher, Peters said.

“In the end, we will have made investments that matter, and that will have a measurable impact on the life of our institution and the people we serve,” he said.

A copy of the president’s remarks is available online at