September 01, 2011
John G. Peters
DeKalb, Ill. — President John G. Peters charted Northern Illinois University’s course toward the future today, calling for enrollment growth to 30,000 by 2020, attracting more high-performing students and increasing the university’s dedication to hands-on learning that prepares students to be leaders after college.
Those were among the highlights of Peters’ 12th State of the University address, which laid out the goals established by the university’s Vision 2020 Initiative. That year-long undertaking compelled the university to measure itself against other schools, define strengths to build upon and identify weaknesses to address. The ultimate goal of the plan is to make NIU the most student-centered public research university in the Midwest.
More than 100 faculty, staff, students and alumni benchmarked NIU against similar universities around the region and across the country and then devised the goals, which were then made available to the university community for comment.
Peters acknowledged that it will be a challenge to carry out the bold initiatives he endorsed, especially in difficult economic times, but said doing so is necessary.
“This is a turning point in our history. We are in the midst of a tremendously challenging era, but it also presents us with a tremendous opportunity,” Peters said. “We must take our destiny into our own hands; otherwise, events and institutions beyond our community will determine our fate for us.
“In hardship, you either shrink or grow,” he added. “We choose to grow.”
One of the most ambitious goals in the plan calls for growing university enrollment to 30,000 students, or more by 2020. That is an increase of more than 25 percent over this year.
The substantial increase in enrollment is necessary to generate revenue that will support many of the other Vision 2020 initiatives designed to improve the academic climate at the university. That income will be important in an era when state support for higher education appears destined to continue dwindling, Peters said.
Much of that growth will be generated by increasing the number of students enrolled on NIU’s main campus, seeking a traditional four-year college experience, Peters said. He established a target of 27,500 students on campus by 2020.
The university also can make substantial strides in enrollment by better serving the market of students looking to earn degrees through classes offered at the university’s outreach centers and other off-site locations, and by dramatically increasing its online degree programs, he said.
To fuel that enrollment growth, Peters announced that, NIU will provide $3 million in one-time grants over the next two years to faculty who develop new academic initiatives designed to enhance programs that attract more students.
Other goals included:
Peters will present the Vision 2020 goals to the NIU Board of Trustees later this month, seeking its endorsement of the plan that has been laid out. If the board supports the plan, the university will begin devising specific implementation and measurement plans.
# # #
Media Contact: Bradley Hoey, NIU Media & Public Relations