1996-2001 Strategic Plan


This Strategic Plan is offered in a spirit that recognizes the collaborative and cooperative nature of a university community. The strategic planning process has diverse representation from the campus community and has actively sought the advice and counsel of colleagues throughout the planning sequence. The preliminary draft of the plan was shared with the campus and input was solicited and obtained. That input resulted in a number of significant alterations that are incorporated into this document. The plan even now should be viewed as dynamic and evolving rather than static. As circumstances change, corresponding changes in the plan will be necessary.

The major elements of the plan were developed after consideration of the University's environment, both internal and external, and an assessment of the values that are the guiding principles for the vision, mission and goals. The plan is the foundation upon which the budget will be constructed. The goals for the University should challenge and involve everyone on the campus in some way. Colleges and departments, both academic and administrative, will be responsible for creating operational plans that implement and support the strategic plan. The budget cycle will include evaluation of activities linked to implementing the plan.


The basis for the development of the plan is a set of values which are the fabric of the institution. They are the expectations that are held in common and are reflected in the goals set forth in this plan. The guiding values are:

  • The UNI community values intellectual vitality, which is characterized by creativity, knowledge, curiosity, aesthetics, critical thinking, and wisdom.
  • The UNI community values intellectual and academic freedom, dialogue, and the free exchange of ideas. The freedom to examine diverse and controversial ideas is essential.
  • The UNI community values excellence in all of its endeavors. A continuous pursuit of quality is essential in achieving excellence.
  • The UNI community values an ethical, caring, and diverse community which is characterized by honesty, integrity, respect, fairness, empathy, equal opportunity, trust, and civility.
  • The UNI community values individual well-being, which is characterized by the development and health of the body, mind, and spirit.


The values, in combination with the context in which the University exists and the long tradition it maintains, underlie the vision for which this plan strives. The vision is presented to provide guidance for the future of UNI. In this way it gives direction that supports the values held by the campus community.

Vision Statement

The University of Northern Iowa shall be a university community that nurtures an environment of intellectual vitality. A commitment to excellence, coupled with continuous improvement, will result in UNI being recognized nationally as an innovative, dynamic, and exciting community in which to learn, teach, and work. UNI will be known for educational quality, a student-centered focus, scholarship, teacher-scholar faculty, and service beyond the campus.

The mission statement of the University is a formal declaration of the role of UNI. It describes those the University serves and what it does for them. The mission is broad, but establishes a clear focus and outlines priorities to which the goals of the plan respond.

Mission Statement

The University of Northern Iowa is Iowa's only public university that is distinguished by its emphasis on undergraduate education. The University contributes to the development of students by providing a diverse, dynamic learning environment characterized by excellence in teaching. The University supports exemplary undergraduate programs founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum and offers master's and selected doctoral programs that contribute to the intellectual vitality of the academic community. The University increases knowledge and promotes student growth through scholarship and service, and shares its expertise with individuals, communities, and organizations.


The goal areas that follow - intellectual vitality, community, resources, and external relations - are derived from the values, vision and mission above. The order in which they are presented does not indicate priority for implementation.

Goal Area 1

INTELLECTUAL VITALITY: Create and maintain an intellectually demanding and stimulating environment for all members of the University community.

An intellectually demanding and stimulating environment promotes discourse which fosters the critical examination of diverse ideas, nurtures creativity and scholarship, encourages reflection, and cultivates the free exchange of ideas. It provides the vitality necessary for a high-quality, learner-centered university.

Sub-goal 1.1 Provide curricula and related learning activities that generate intellectual vitality in all University offerings.

1.1.1 Promote greater student involvement in, and responsibility for, their own learning.

1.1.2 Ensure high-quality undergraduate curricula. Identify the qualities of an educated person that characterize a UNI graduate, and integrate these qualities into curricular and co-curricular activities. Strive to ensure that every student is aware of the value of, and has the opportunity to undertake a broad and rigorous general education curriculum that is centered in the liberal arts and sciences, and that helps students understand and appreciate the shared and pluralistic aspects of American culture as well as develop a global perspective that includes the understanding of other cultures. Continue to clarify and review the process by which the university curriculum is changed. Ensure that every student has a program of study in a major that provides preparation for both the present and the future; includes opportunities for experiential learning; and allows choice in the selection of electives. Consider developing an honors program. Strive to ensure that students in every major have an opportunity to be exposed to an intellectual and educational environment where meaningful, individualized dialogue and mentoring can take place between student and instructor. Reduce the size of laboratory and discussion sections to levels where constructive and meaningful interaction can take place between student and instructor.

1.1.3 Ensure high-quality graduate curricula. Maintain graduate enrollment at a level of at least 10% of total enrollment. Offer master's programs that are justified on the basis of some combination of potential enrollment, societal need, and faculty resources. Offer doctoral programs with a primary emphasis upon applied, practitioner, and professionally-oriented studies. Consider development of additional courses exclusively for graduate students.

1.1.4 Ensure high-quality continuing education offerings that meet lifelong learning needs.

1.1.5 Integrate processes of program review, student outcomes assessment, and strategic planning.

Sub-goal 1.2 Sustain and reward teaching and scholarship.

1.2.1 Sustain effective teaching. Assure that teaching is used as a basis for decisions on tenure, promotion and compensation. Recruit, develop, and retain outstanding teacher-scholars. Encourage faculty to give special attention to continual improvement of the general education program, interdisciplinary offerings, and appropriate linkages between liberal and professional education. Provide faculty professional development opportunities, and new faculty and staff with orientation, that enhances their ability to promote student development and learning. Provide and maintain modern laboratories, studios, equipment, and media to effect high quality and effective teaching. Provide faculty with opportunity and support to explore and implement appropriate educational technologies.

1.2.2 Support and sustain scholarship and intellectual and creative activities. The faculty and academic administrators shall cooperatively undertake to create and communicate an operational definition of scholarship and creative activities. Assure that scholarship and creative activities are used as a basis for decisions on tenure, promotion, and compensation. Provide intellectual resources to students, faculty, and staff which support study, research, and scholarship and aggressively develop the ability to deliver information in all forms. Ensure that laboratories and studios are equipped and maintained to enable the scholarly and artistic activities of the faculty, students, and staff. Provide faculty and staff with professional development opportunities that enhance their ability to undertake scholarly and creative activities. Continue to support and improve communication about visiting scholars, colloquia, artistic, and other events that enhance the environment in which scholarship will flourish. Increase opportunities for student involvement in scholarly and creative activities undertaken by the faculty and staff and provide appropriate recognition to the students, faculty, and staff.

Sub-goal 1.3 Extend University expertise to serve the needs of Iowa and beyond, as resources become available.

1.3.1 Support community development, economic vitality, local decision making, and technology transfer through existing University programs that assist communities, small businesses, and government agencies.

1.3.2 Promote the arts as a significant, positive factor in the quality of life in Iowa.

1.3.3 Contribute to the improvement of education from early childhood through postsecondary levels in Iowa and beyond.

1.3.4 Encourage student, faculty and staff involvement in finding solutions to community social problems.

1.3.5 Provide technical assistance and innovative educational programs relative to the environment and environmentally sound practices.

1.3.6 Explore and adopt approaches to expand educational opportunity and accessibility which complement existing programs.

Goal Area 2

COMMUNITY: Promote a sense of community within the University.

Intellectual vitality can best flourish in a community of learners and scholars that not only respects diverse people and opinions, but appreciates them. The community should expect all individuals in its midst to develop to their fullest potential, and should provide the support necessary for this to occur. All members of the community should have the opportunity to be involved in determining the direction of the University and its governance.

Sub-goal 2.1 Promote a sense of identity and a culture of collegiality, professionalism, and mutual respect.

2.1.1 Encourage faculty and staff participation in student activities.

2.1.2 Encourage participation in University-related cultural, intellectual and recreational activities.

2.1.3 Apply a holistic approach to student success through effective student services.

2.1.4 Ensure high-quality advising and encourage mentoring relationships with faculty and staff where students can discuss academic, career, and other concerns.

2.1.5 Ensure that students, faculty, and staff have opportunities for intercultural experiences, both domestic and abroad.

2.1.6 Empower individuals in their work, learning and service activities.

2.1.7 Encourage collaborative efforts among students, faculty, and staff.

2.1.8 Provide a wide range of experiences that contribute to student development.

Sub-goal 2.2 Create and nurture a diverse community within the University.

2.2.1 Increase the interaction among students with those from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Strive towards achieving the Board of Regents minority enrollment goal. Increase the number of non-resident and international students.

2.2.2 Develop and expand strategies that attract women and minorities into the population of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

2.2.3 Provide a supportive and welcoming environment for all members of the University community including those traditionally disenfranchised by virtue of ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.

2.2.4 Foster an environment where mutual respect among students, faculty, and staff contributes to the free examination of diverse and controversial ideas.

2.2.5 Maintain high ethical standards throughout the University community.

Sub-goal 2.3 Improve University governance and decision making.

2.3.1 Maintain a student-centered philosophy at the University, placing the student's education at the center of its policies, procedures, and activities.

2.3.2 Improve the quantity, quality, and accessibility of data for decision making.

2.3.3 Examine shared governance that includes all members of the University community, clarifying and articulating the roles played by units across the university in determining decisions of general relevance, and ensuring that appropriate input is made.

2.3.4 Assure that service to the profession and university is used as the basis for decisions on tenure, promotion, and compensation.

2.3.5 Maintain an inclusive strategic planning process that results in University priorities that are widely supported and based upon shared principles.

2.3.6 Establish an on-going, systematic, and open process to evaluate progress made in implementing the strategic plan.

2.3.7 Create linkages among planning, budgeting, curriculum development, program review, student outcomes, faculty and staff development, and student success.

Sub-goal 24. Ensure that all members of the UNI community have the opportunity to enhance their well-being.

2.4.1 Ensure a safe and healthy environment.

2.4.2 Provide opportunities for enhancing individual well-being and growth.

2.4.3 Expand programs, and communicate more effectively about processes to resolve problems related to substance, emotional, sexual and physical abuse.

2.4.4 Increase activities that promote a sense of ownership and pride in the University among students, faculty, and staff and their families.

Goal Area 3

RESOURCES: Effectively manage internal resources and aggressively seek external resources to support University programs and aspirations.

The University will need to become more creative in obtaining resources, while utilizing those it has at the highest possible level of effectiveness.

Sub-goal 3.1 Enhance the quality and productivity of UNI faculty and staff.

3.1.1 Recruit the best available faculty and staff, and retain and reward faculty and staff as appropriate. Provide competitive salaries and fringe benefits. Provide quality working and learning conditions. Delegate authority and responsibility to the level closest to the work.

3.1.2 Promote the personal and professional development of all employees.

3.1.3 Apply standards that promote efficiency and effectiveness. Optimize the balance between people and tools for given tasks. Develop a system that enhances the completion of work.

Sub-goal 3.2 Optimize the acquisition and utilization of University resources.

3B1. Link the acquisition and utilization of resources to the university budgeting process.

3.2.2 Acquire resources in a timely and expeditious manner that is supportive and compatible with the University mission.

3.2.3 Maximize the effective and efficient use of resources.

3.2.4 Aggressively seek additional outside funding.

Sub-goal 3.3 Provide a physical environment which supports the activities of the University.

3.3.1. Develop processes that ensure the most effective and efficient utilization of facilities.

3.3.2 Provide a clean, well-maintained, healthy, and safe environment.

3.3.3 Ensure that facilities are appropriate, aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, conducive to productivity, energy efficient, and enhance the learning and working environment.

3.3.4 Examine university facilities, project future funding, consider other appropriate factors, and determine the optimal enrollment size which should be targeted for the university.

Sub-goal 3.4 Ensure that useful information is easily accessible, accurate, and widely shared.

3.4.1 Establish an internal support structure that provides data which can be appropriately shared; ensures security and disaster recovery; and provides sufficient technical assistance and training.

3.4.2 Improve the content, networking, and utility of University databases.

3.4.3 Select appropriate technology systems, and develop an infrastructure with an emphasis on ease of use.

3.4.4 Ensure ease of access to information.

3.4.5 Establish processes that ensure the timeliness and reliability of all information and reduce the time necessary to generate the information.

Goal Area 4

EXTERNAL RELATIONS: Develop appreciation and support for the values, programs, and services of the University.

The support received by the University depends in large measure upon how it is perceived by its many constituencies. It is important that people both on and beyond the campus understand what the University does and can assess its value with appropriate criteria. Further, as a public university, UNI has an obligation to contribute to the prosperity and quality of life in Iowa through outreach and partnerships.

Sub-goal 4.1 Create a coordinated, comprehensive, and consistent communications effort that enhances the awareness and image of the University.

4.1.1 Make information about the University widely available to the public.

4.1.2. Examine communication program systems and technology to determine their effectiveness in providing information in a timely manner to both internal and external constituencies.

4.1.3 Create an effective orientation program for new members of the University community.

4.1.4 Enhance coordination of University publications, service, and outreach programs.

4.1.5 Examine technologies and other resources to determine their effectiveness in enhancing public awareness of the University of Northern Iowa.

Sub-goal 4.2 Pursue and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships with external constituencies.

4.2.1 Strengthen the relationship between the University and its graduates.

4.2.2 Develop a coordinated network of alumni and friends to provide support for the major goals of the University.

4.2.3 Increase the number of relationships between the University and the business community.

4.2.4 Establish and coordinate relationships with other educational institutions and foundations.

4.2.5 Establish and coordinate relationships with local, state, and federal governmental entities.

Sub-goal 4.3 Focus on the value of a UNI education in building a compelling case for public and private support.

4.3.1 Implement an on-going program to assess the impact of the University on its graduates and the prosperity and quality of life in Iowa.

4.3.2 Identify, communicate with, and secure commitments from constituencies whose values and needs are consistent with those of the University.