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Baker Report: An outgrowth of Program Prioritization

February 16, 2017

Dean of the College of Education Laurie Elish-Piper

Program Prioritization has shown us that introspection is worthwhile, and that proceeding in a strategic manner provides the best path forward toward aligning mission with resources, accomplishing our goals and fulfilling our purpose.

Laurie Elish-Piper, dean of the NIU College of Education, and her amazing team have taken this to heart.

Motivated by our university-wide initiative, they embarked on their own exploration of who they are and who they want to be. I applaud their enterprising spirit and work.

Following months of gathering opinions from various stakeholders, examining data and holding thoughtful discussions, Dean Elish-Piper and her leadership team developed an impressive Strategic Action Planning Framework.

Considered a “commitment to the future,” it will guide daily and long-term decision-making. It also offers flexibility to honor the unique aspects of each department and program.

The framework clearly delineates the vision, mission, and value proposition for the college. “Through programs grounded in engaged learning experiences,” the value proposition states, “we prepare students to succeed and lead in their careers and communities.”

It sets forth and defines six values: student-centered; experiential; research-informed; inclusive; collaborative; and innovative.

Here are just three of those definitions:

  • “We will embed diverse, real-world learning opportunities in our programs. These experiences enable students to apply what they learn, and support their transition from student to professional.”
  • “We actively cultivate a diverse learning community of people, ideas and points of view. This environment provides a safe and inviting space in which all can learn and grow.”
  • “We partner with schools, communities, agencies and businesses. This expands local and global opportunities for learning, research, service and leadership.”

The framework also names and explores five priorities: innovative practice; intentional growth; research advancement; climate; and resource alignment.

Staff from the NIU Center for Governmental Studies facilitated the creation of the college’s framework. They also assisted in creating a process that department leadership will follow to draft program and department level goals that align with the framework.

Dean Elish-Piper is confident that she and her College of Education colleagues have illuminated the right key priorities, and so am I. With a shared purpose and identity, they know what is important to them – and what is important to the students and families they serve. That’s powerful knowledge. I encourage others to follow in their footsteps, and I am eager to see what emerges as we reshape our institution for a viable future.