NMU Quality Initiative timeline figure showing the QI as stage 2 of 4, focused on Planning Process Development

Strategic Planning

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 information will be added here as details emerge.


Project Title: Northern Michigan University Strategic Planning: Building Effective Long-Term Institutional Planning Processes 

This Quality Initiative (QI) project is designed to systematize the work of strategic planning at NMU. We will build on the work begun during the process of rapidly deconstructing the prior plan (Investing in Innovation) to replace it with the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan.

The primary objective of our QI is to systematically establish the tools and methods we will use to develop future integrated strategic plans. This “next-generation” system will facilitate the construction of a primary guiding document – built on broad stakeholder involvement – and integrated vertically and horizontally throughout the University structure with the goal of clearly defining NMU’s strategic priorities for the planning period. 

Project Bounds: While our recent focus has been on writing the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan and building the action plans that support it, we have also begun the work of developing the “next-generation” system. This will continue, becoming the focus of institutional attention under the QI, through to the development of a proposal to the new President.

The process of developing the plan won’t end as the new plan is implemented, but rather will be ongoing work as the plan is constantly updated and renewed in response to the monitoring of key metrics and the changing higher education landscape.

Operating effectively under a strong strategic plan will drive improvement of academic quality. NMU’s deep commitment to student-centered teaching and learning will be at the core of all future strategic plans. The difference between an effective strategic plan and “something that sits on a shelf” will be starting the planning process by first focusing attention on a collaborative process of planning for integrated strategic plan development. That essential precursor work will be the QI.

Goals, during the QI project: 

  1. Write a strategic planning process.
  2. Vet the process on campus and refine it based on constituent input.
  3. Communicate with prospective presidential candidates that NMU is intentionally shifting culture specifically to value integrated strategic planning. 
  4. Make final revisions to the planning system based on the new President’s priorities and leadership style. 
  5. Obtain campus leadership approval of the planning process.
  6. Open next-generation planning work based on the new NMU strategic planning process before the expiration of the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan and submit our QI final report. 

Goals, following the QI project: 

  1. Engage varied constituents in the work of building the next-generation strategic plan based on the approved planning process. Constituents will include at least the following:
    1. Faculty
    2. Students
    3. Staff
    4. Alumni
    5. Community members
    6. Employers
  2. Develop a strategic plan that will be ready to implement as the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan reaches completion, and then take that next-generation strategic plan through completion to Board of Trustees approval.
  3. Continue implementation of the planning process developed during the QI after the next-generation strategic plan is launched, so that the plan can continuously be refined and kept active. Institutionalize planning, rather than having written a plan, as essential to NMU culture.

Pre-QI Work, development of the current interim strategic plan

  • December 2021-February 2022 Institutional Effectiveness distilled from existing planning materials essential focus and strategies elements to bring into the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan.
  • February 2022 staff and faculty co-chairs for interim plan focus areas were identified and began work refining strategies. 
  • March 2022 campus engagement sessions provided faculty, students, and staff the opportunity to voice their ideas about the draft interim plan.
  • April 2022 Board of Trustees approved the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan. This marks completion of what we call Phase I of Interim Planning. 
  • Spring 2022 while rapidly working to get an interim plan into place, IE and others began documenting lessons learned in successful community engagement during interim planning.
  • Spring 2022 into Summer 2022 Focus Area steering committees, with faculty and staff co-chairs and IE facilitation, began developing action plans for each of the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan focus areas. 

QI Work, development of a stable, long-term planning process

  • Summer 2022 into Fall 2022, deepening development of 2022 Interim Strategic Plan – fleshing out the descriptions of work involved under each of the five plan focus areas by writing detailed action plans with tactics described, specific metrics identified, and other fine-grain details needed to act on the goals established in the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan. (This marks the beginning of what we call Phase II of Interim Planning.)
  • August 1, 2022 closing of the application for University President.
  • Fall 2022, simultaneous continuous improvement activities in implementation of 2022 Interim Strategic Plan and initiation of strategic planning process development work.
  • Fall 2022, direct candidates for the presidency to the 2022 Interim Strategic Plan and the in-progress QI work to develop a planning process. 
  • AY 2022-23, work to collaboratively build strategic planning processes.
  • Anticipated AY 2022-23, inauguration of new NMU president. Adjustments to planning development and strategic planning work will be made under the new president’s leadership.
  • AY 2023-24 or when possible after arrival of new president, completion of planning process development and approval of process. Following approval of planning process, initiation of collaborative strategic planning work to develop NMU’s next strategic plan.

Post-QI Work, development of NMU’s next-generation strategic plan

  • Some flexibility in dates, but in academic year 2023-24 or soon thereafter approve next-generation strategic plan, which will have been developed using the process that will be built during the QI.
  • Throughout the lifespan of the strategic plan, implement the community engagement processes developed through the QI project. 
  • Throughout the lifespan of the strategic plan, monitor key performance indicators, monitor the postsecondary education environment, and adjust the plan as needed. 
HLC Quality Initiative document

NMU'S QI will meet HLC expectations for institutions on the Open Pathway of accreditation.