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Vision 2020 Working Group examines graduate enrollment

July 12, 2011

This is the fourth in a series of articles offering a brief overview of the Vision 2020 working group reports.

The Vision 2020 Working Group on Regional Impact, Outreach, Engagement and Graduate Education has issued a report offering detailed recommendations regarding ways that NIU can capitalize on its geographic location and increase enrollment in graduate programs.

“The region can be invaded by the state’s other four year-public institutions, but those institutions cannot replicate in their own service areas the same access to educational entities; cultural, social and governmental agencies; business and industry; or the state’s two national labs,” members of the committee wrote in their report.Vision 2020 logo

The 13-member working group, comprised of faculty, staff, students and alumni made their recommendations in a report compiled as part of the Vision 2020 Initiative, NIU’s effort to become the most student-centered public research university in the Midwest by the year 2020. That report (and five others) is online and available for review and comment so that the university community can help define the path to that goal.

Members of the group benchmarked NIU against similar schools across the state and region to compare success in attracting graduate students, the number of students exposed to engagement learning activities and the number of students enrolled in on-line and off-campus programs.

The working group recommended that NIU should:

  • Work to increase its share of the large and growing pool of part-time, off-campus, undergraduate and graduate students, in part by creating more programs in high-demand fields and increasing scholarship money available to those populations.
  • Strive to significantly increase the number of online degree programs offered, focusing on those most in demand by potential students.
  • Increase the number of engaged learning activities available to all students, including international outreach and engagement activities.
  • Include assessment of engaged research, teaching and service in promotion and tenure processes and other faculty awards.


Each recommendation includes: justification for why it is important; specific steps required to carry out the recommendation; organizational or policy changes that might be required; budgetary considerations; a list of planning documents that might help guide the effort; and a suggestion as to which organizations on campus should be charged with approving and implementing work toward attaining the goal. Most goals include benchmarks to be reached in three years, five years and by 2020.

“The recommendations set forth in this report, and the others, offer a clear path forward,” said NIU President John Peters. “What we are looking for now is feedback from the NIU community as to which of these priorities should be treated as most important to help us set the course toward our future.”

The campus community can share thoughts on those issues by visiting the Vision 2020 website, where six of the seven reports (both full reports and executive summaries) are currently available for review and comment. Deadline for input is Friday, July 15.