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Baker Report: Putting Students First

October 24, 2014
NIU President Doug Baker

NIU President Doug Baker

A new college rating system recently introduced compares higher education institutions according to how well they advance students of need through graduation into good careers. Northern Illinois University is ranked 30th among 539 institutions nationally on the Social Mobility Index (SMI), which compares the effectiveness of colleges and universities in accomplishing this objective.

At NIU, we call this student career success, and it’s our keystone goal. Students investing in an NIU education are committed to achieving fulfilling careers and being responsible citizens in our rapidly changing world, and we want to empower them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

At Wednesday evening’s Be Bold Now event in the Holmes Student Center, attendees were able to learn firsthand about initiatives already under way as a result of spring and summer Bold Futures workshop sessions.

The presentation topics included the following:

  • THE ASK ME CAMPAIGN, presented by Jay Orbik, director of Media Services;
  • STUDENT SUCCESS MAPS, presented by Margee Myles, director of advising, College of Education; and
  • EARLY ALERT AND REFERRAL SYSTEM, presented by Kelly Wesener, associate vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Vice Provost Anne Birberick; and Dana Gautcher, director of Student Academic Success.

These are just a few examples of how we are working toward our shared vision of being the premier student-centered, research-focused public university contributing to the advancement of knowledge for the benefit of the people in our region, state, nation and world.

President Baker's trianglePutting students first is at the core of what we try to live every day at NIU. Our goal is to provide our students with a broad-based education and enriching student experience tailored to their passions, ensuring their timely degree completion and success in securing employment in their field of interest or graduate school enrollment within six months of graduation if they choose.

Already, we are seeing this emphasis on one thing – student career success – pay off. It is evident in our retention rate, which increased 5 percent in the course of one year, and indications are that initiatives such as the ones presented Wednesday are further enhancing student outcomes and retention.

There is much work to do, but building a strategic and organizational framework built around student career success and connecting students, academics and the world through teaching, research and engagement is helping us to align our university’s initiatives around these big picture priorities as we advance NIU’s mission in service to our region.

The Social Mobility Index is one affirmation that we are headed in the right direction.

Together Forward,