Developing the Interim Strategic Plan


As the search for Northern Michigan University's 17th President began in November 2021, the office of Institutional Effectiveness was charged with facilitating the creation of an interim strategic plan that both engaged the campus community and effectively bridged past strategic efforts with future planning systems.

NMU's 2022 Interim Strategic Plan provides an inventory of current strategic efforts happening throughout Northern Michigan University and serves as a basis for the strategic planning process that will define NMU's path into the future.


Magnifying glass


Focus Area

Current strategic priority of NMU.

  • Areas of concentrated effort identified through the strategic planning process
  • Resource intensive


Purpose Statement

Why this focus area matters to NMU right now.

  • Foundational
  • Addresses why this is a strategic priority
  • Creates context for the focus area
  • Narrative/descriptive



What NMU plans to accomplish.

  • Aspirational
  • Describes what we want to do; not specific about how it will be achieved
  • Often directional (e.g., increase, decrease, improve, reduce)
  • Success is measured at the strategy level
Knight and rook chess pieces



The approaches NMU will take to achieve the goal.

  • Broad description of how we will achieve one or more components of the goal
  • Typically, encompasses related initiatives with shared outcomes
  • Detailed initiatives are defined in the tactics
  • Success is measured by key performance indicators



NMU's projects and initiatives that constitute the strategy.

  • Typically, initiative-based
  • Outlines what we will do to achieve the strategy; not specific about tasks to implement
  • Success is measured by progress metrics

Core Values: The principles that guide the university in carrying out its mission and realizing its vision.


Focus Areas: Strategic themes or areas of concentrated effort identified through the strategic planning process; focus areas are limited due to being resource intensive.

Focus Area Action Plan: Detailed strategies and tactics that will be employed to achieve goals of a given focus area.


Goal: One or more intended outcomes or results of completed strategies and their outlined tactics in the strategic plan; generally aspirational and directional (e.g., increase/decrease). Progress is measured at strategy level.


Key Performance Indicator: One or more data points used to measure the intended outcomes of a strategy.


Mission Statement: A brief message that explains why a university exists and what that university aims to accomplish through education, service, and research. It guides the university's choices and highlights its goals for making a positive impact on students and society.


Progress Metric: One or more data points used to measure progress or define completion of a tactic.

Purpose Statement: A foundational statement that details why a particular focus area is a strategic priority for Northern Michigan University and creates context and vision for the focus area.


Sponsor: The Northern Michigan University entity (e.g., office, department, center, committee) responsible for overseeing progress for a given tactic.

Strategic Plan: The product of a standardized process to document and communicate the future direction of Northern Michigan University, including goals and strategies we will employ to achieve it.

Strategic Planning: A deliberate, disciplined process to produce fundamental decisions and actions that guide what Northern Michigan University is (as an institution), what it does, and why it does it.

Strategy: A broad description of how one or more components of the goal will be achieved; details collective outcomes of tactics.


Tactic: A project, activity or effort that will be undertaken in order to achieve the strategy; includes the entities responsible for completion of the tactic, tactic timeline, and how progress will be measured within the strategic plan.


Vision Statement: A short description of the university's dream for the future and how it plans to grow and improve. It paints a picture of what the university wants to become and the positive changes it wants to make in the world.

Vital Indicators: Enduring measures influenced by a broad scope of multi-factorial variables. Identifying individual programmatic impacts on vital indicators is difficult; however, unanticipated shifts require immediate evaluation and possible remediation.

Focus Area Steering Committee organizational chart for current period.
Summer 2023


The next interaction between NMU and the HLC will be completion of our Quality Initiative.

Our proposal to HLC that meeting this requirement will be done through Northern's work to develop the next generation of our institutional strategic plan was approved. With the NMU 2022 Interim Strategic Plan in place guiding Northern through our current transition in leadership, creation of a new strategic plan, as well as an effective ongoing planning process, will be a high institutional priority.

More at


Quality Initiative Timeline

Priorities and Accomplishments by Semester


2022 Green Fund Project Rain Garden sign

Fall 2023

Continued Monitoring of the Interim Strategic Plan

Focus Area Steering Committee members continued to monitor and update progress on the Interim Strategic Plan tactics, or projects and activities that contribute to the Strategy. 

Find real-time details on the Strategic Plan in Action webpage and in the Action Plan Dashboard

Next Generation Planning

The IE team spent the fall semester actively listening and engaging with NMU stakeholders, including external community members, leaders, and alumni, about the next strategic plan for NMU and where we could go.


Considering the mission of NMU

Winter 2024

Current Planning Priorities:

Facilitate the Development of NMU's Next Strategic Plan

The process to develop of NMU's next strategic plan is collective and depends on the support of members of our Northern Michigan University community. This semester, we are purposefully engaging with students, faculty, staff, and other campus stakeholders to envision Northern's future and craft our plan for how we will get there. More details to come.

Continued Monitoring of the Interim Strategic Plan

Focus Area Steering Committee members continue to obtain updates on the Interim Strategic Plan tactics. Real-time details can be found on the Strategic Plan in Action page and in the Action Plan Dashboard


Woman in a canoe wearing a Northern Michigan sweatshirt

Summer 2023

Shared Learning and Shared Progress

Steering committees and other strategic stakeholders on campus came together for the Strategic Doing workshop on May 11, 2023. Learn more about Strategic Doing.

Continued communication of progress and accomplishments from the Interim Strategic Plan through the refinement of the Action Plan Dashboard and Focus Area Action Plans

Future Focused

Preliminary planning commenced for NMU's next generation planning system. 


Paddle boarding around Presque Isle

Winter 2023

Monitored Progress of the Interim Strategic Plan

Focus Area Steering Committee members worked throughout the semester to obtain status updates from tactic owners, including major accomplishments, challenges experienced, and necessary baseline information.

Check out the Strategic Plan in Action to learn more. 


NMU torch insignia on brick wall

Fall 2022

Interim Strategic Plan take center stage at Convocation

Impactful elements of the Interim Strategic Plan were highlighted at Fall 2022 Convocation, demonstrating NMU's commitment and ownership of this work. 

Action Plans adopted by NMU Leadership

Action Plans for each Focus Area of the Interim Strategic Plan were adopted by the President's Leadership Council. 


Students studying on campus.

Summer 2022

Focus Area Steering Committees kick-off

Focus Area Steering Committees began to operationalize the Interim Strategic Plan. Training and resources were provided by The Society of College and University Planners (SCUP)

Developing Action Plans

Focus Area Steering Committees authored Action Plans, which articulated tactics, sponsors, timelines and metrics that aligned with the Interim Strategic Plan goals and strategies. 


Winter on NMU's campus

Winter 2022

Engaging Campus Stakeholders

Nearly 150 NMU faculty, staff, students, and alumni shared their feedback on the Interim Strategic Plan at one of 18 student-run Engagement Sessions.

Focus area co-chairs (comprised of faculty and administrative leaders) were identified and broad calls went out for campus community members to get involved in the creation of the interim strategic plan. 

Plan Approved by NMU Board of Trustees

At their April meeting, the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan was approved by the NMU Board of Trustees. 


NMU students on the Academic Mall in Fall

Fall 2021

Laying the foundation for the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan

To prepare for new leadership at NMU, the development of an interim strategic plan was deemed necessary. The structure and scope for the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan was developed during this time.