Through Which the
Institution Evaluates its Purposes
The University's Strategic Plan
The version of the UNI Strategic Plan in place during the self-study was
completed in December 1996 (see http://www.uni.edu/infosys/fsp/index.html).
The new UNI Strategic Plan for the years 2001-2006 was approved by the
Board of Regents in November 2000 (see
http://www.uni.edu/pres/2001-2006strategicplan/). Each plan has been
viewed as a dynamic and evolving document. As circumstances change, corresponding
changes in the plan have been made.
The document also is viewed as the foundation upon which the budget is
constructed. The strategic goals have challenged everyone on the campus
in some way. The budget cycle has included evaluation of activities linked
to implementation of the plan.
Strategic Planning Processes at UNI
Over several decades the University of Northern Iowa has been engaged
in various major academic planning initiatives. However, it was not until
1989 that UNI formally adopted a strategic planning process. In that year,
President Constantine Curris established the University Strategic Planning
Committee. This committee was charged with preparing a strategic plan
that would be built upon the mission of the University of Northern Iowa
and the strategic goals adopted by the Board of Regents for the Regents
universities. The President asked the committee to give special attention
to three areas: the achievement of national prominence by the College
of Education, actions to further improve student excellence, and the strengthening
of the University's graduate programs.
The committee identified seven goals that formed the basis of the initial
strategic plan, which was intended to present a framework for assessment
and serve as a model for future planning iterations. The Board of Regents
approved the first strategic plan in May 1990 (see Appendix C; Additional
information is available in the NCA Report Appendix. Print copies are
available for review at UNI's Rod Library). During the next four years,
the University provided to the Board of Regents annual progress reports
in implementing the strategies and achieving the goals set forth in UNI's
strategic plan. In 1991, each college developed its own strategic plan
consistent with the broader institutional goals described in the University
plan, and other divisions of the University crafted appropriate strategic
plans as well. As anticipated, over the next few years, adjustments were
made in the strategic planning process to encourage broader participation
in establishing institutional and collegiate priorities.
Shortly before the arrival of President Robert Koob in 1995, the University
Strategic Planning Committee was assigned the task of generating University-wide
"priorities" suitable for guiding key decisions over the next
five years (FY1996-2001) at the University of Northern Iowa. In carrying
out this task, the committee agreed that priorities would be defined as
goals that represent choices about the desirable direction of the University
and position the University to be effective in acquiring needed resources
and fulfilling its mission.
The new strategic planning process under the leadership of President Koob
began in fall 1995 with a seminar that brought together eight distinguished
Iowans who presented their views about the University in the context of
developments projected to occur in the State over the next few years.
The preliminary draft of the new strategic plan was shared with the campus,
and input was solicited and obtained, resulting in a number of significant
modifications by a committee representing faculty, staff and students.
During the past four years, the strategic plan has been the foundation
upon which the University budget has been constructed and strategic initiatives
have been identified and prioritized. Colleges and departments, both academic
and administrative, have been responsible for implementing and supporting
the University strategic plan. The budget allocation process has included
consideration of relevance to implementation of the plan.
UNI began the strategic planning process for 2001-2006 in early 1999.
A leadership group including the President, members of the Cabinet, deans,
and other University leaders met for an extended retreat to identify key
issues that led to the development of a "model" plan.
In October 1999, the President appointed a 20-member Strategic Planning
Committee comprised of individuals representing all segments of the on-campus
constituency (students, staff, faculty, and administration) as well as
representatives of the off-campus community. While the Committee was given
the model plan as a starting point, it was made clear that this model
was intended as a guide and not a final document. The Committee's responsibility
was to challenge every assumption and develop a strategic plan that when
implemented would improve the University at the core and at the margins.
In addition, it was the Committee's responsibility during the course of
the plan's development to gain input from campus constituencies at a level
sufficient to ensure the plan represented total campus thinking.
Early in the process there was a general consensus that a new plan, rather
than a modified one, was needed to focus the University more tightly on
achieving excellence in all its activities. The Committee worked with
the following objectives in mind: (1) refine the vision, mission, and
values to represent the University as we see it today and over the next
several years, (2) develop a plan that represents the whole University,
(3) gain input from University constituencies, and (4) develop performance
indicators and targets that are reported annually to the Board of Regents
(see Appendix C;
Additional information is avavilable in the NCA Report Appendix. Print
copies are available for review at UNI's Rod Library).
From the beginning, the strategic plan represented campus thinking simply
because the Strategic Planning Committee represented all on-campus constituencies
as well as off-campus groups. But the Committee was diligent in sharing
the document and seeking responses during the development process. This
was accomplished in several ways:
1. The planning process was published in campus
publications including the Northern Iowan (campus newspaper) and CNN (Campus
News Network newsletter).
2. The draft strategic plan was posted on the University
Web site and feedback solicited via electronic (UNIonline) and print (Northern
Iowan, CNN) vehicles. Three drafts were posted on the Web: first, when
the committee had addressed Vision, Values, Mission, and Goal elements;
second, when the plan included specific goals, objectives, and actions;
and, third, when the first report on the plan was presented to the Cabinet.
Anyone looking at the plan on the Web could respond electronically to
the committee with comments. After each posting, the feedback received
from the campus was considered by the Committee and incorporated as appropriate.
3. The Committee hosted an electronic discussion
board where members of the University community could comment about the
plan, see what others were saying, and engage in dialogue.
4. Members of the Committee also presented the draft
documents to University governance groups for discussion and feedback.
Many individuals and groups around campus took time to review and offer
comments on the draft plan documents. The ability to have this discussion
electronically encouraged far greater input from the campus to the development
of the plan and helped ensure that UNI has a strategic plan that represents
the thinking and commitment of the entire University. Both the planning
process and the new Strategic Plan seem to have met with approval by UNI's
community, constituencies and by the Board of Regents.