Implementing the Strategic Plan: Investing in Innovation
Northern Michigan University

February 1, 2017

Northern Michigan University is committed to the success of our students through world-class teaching, boundless opportunities for undergraduate scholarship, innovative academic and career-based programs all in an active and vibrant living-learning community. We are linked and committed to our natural environment as we seek to be an environmentally friendly, economically feasible, and socially acceptable university community built on a strong set of core values and centered on the success of students. Our new strategic plan, Investing in Innovation, has put our university community on a path toward building a new and distinct future

Demographic changes, student demands, parental expectations and financial realities all suggest we will be a different institution in five years. If we embrace the ideals of Transformational Innovation, we have the opportunity to shape our future, and the potential to lead in the 21st century reinvention of higher education.

NMU Scorecard and Dashboard

The Office of Institutional Research is currently building a new structure for the NMU scorecard and dashboard. Central to this effort is use of the Tableau program to allow members of the university community to employ detailed data based on user need. While the development is still in process, there are several key performance indicators (KPI) to be imbedded in Tableau. These indicators are identified below and linked to both strategic focus areas and strategic outcomes. It is important to note that a limit of KPIs per area is employed.

Key Performance Indicators: Strategic Focus Areas

Academic Excellence

  • Total enrollment
  • Individual academic program enrollment
  • Scholarly activity by program area
  • External funding submissions - total grant dollars awarded
  • HLC accreditation standards met
  • Ratio between NMU average salary and CUPA average salary

Student Success

  • Six-year graduation rate
  • IPEDS fall to fall retention rates
  • Combined number of degree awards for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Employment and graduate school rate
  • Number of students involved in student organizations including SLFP and Superior Edge
  • Increased number of students passing licensing exams in various academic programs
  • Departmental increases in number of student presentations at professional conference
  • Increase in student publications in professional journal
  • Increased number of student internships and internship partners

Domestic and Global Outreach and Engagement

  • Off-campus enrollment
  • Northern Promise enrollment
  • Diverse student enrollment
  • International student enrollment
  • Educational Access Network enrollment

Investment and Innovation

  • Program Investment Fund annual expenditures
  • Growth in enrollment or retention or improved service as a direct result of PIF implementation
  • Philanthropic giving to the NMU Foundation
  • Expenditures for facilities improvement or expansion
  • Housing occupancy rates

Key Performance Indicators: Strategic Outcomes

Enhancing Prestige and Distinction

  • Total enrollment
  • Individual academic program enrollment
  • National rankings
  • Number of awards and other forms of public recognition
  • Number of publications and creative activities
  • Annual total gift commitments
  • Increase in external grant funding levels

Establishing New and Responsive Approaches

  • Strategic resource allocation recommendations
  • Administrative instructional cost ratios
  • Number of academic programs (programs eliminated and programs created)
  • Number of programs completing program viability review
  • Total enrollment
  • Individual academic program enrollment
  • Improved procedural and/or process times for academic program and course development and changes
  • Improved procedural and/or process times for university business operations and services
  • Percentage of Upper Peninsula covered by NMU LTE network
  • Comprehensive review of all standard university response messages for clarity, accuracy and branding.

Expanding partnerships

  • Number of K-12 partnerships with concurrent, dual and middle-college
  • Number of Educational Access Network school partners
  • Number of EAN business partners
  • Non-traditional enrollment to NMU (diverse, international, online enrollment)
  • Departmental partnerships for internships, research, economic development, student recruitment, college preparation and/or academic service learning

Growing and managing enrollment

  • Total enrollment
  • Individual academic program enrollment
  • Off-campus enrollment
  • Diverse student enrollment
  • International student enrollment
  • Educational Access Network enrollment


Five-Year Enrollment Goals


5 Year Goals (baseline + headcount growth areas)





Target Student Populations








Conventional Student Enrollment*








Expanded Diverse Student Enrollment








Expanded Jacobetti Complex Enrollment








Expanded Graduate Student Enrollment








Expanded International Student Enrollment








Out of State Enrollment








UP Market Share Growth








LP Market Share Growth








Growth Areas Subtotals








On Campus Subtotals








Northern Promise








Global Campus degree








Off Campus Subtotal
















% Change year over year








% Change since 15-16








Education Access Network


EAN non-degree







Total University Headcount









*Row updates based on scenario selection from the 5 Year Projections, working off of “best case” scenario projections.

**All figures are headcount, not FTE

***Italicized sub areas do not sum up to subtotals due to target segments not accounting for all categories of students; baseline figures are for reference only



Strategic Implementation: Transformational Innovation



Mission and Vision

  • Update the mission and vision statements and bring them to approval by the NMU Board of Trustees


Academic Excellence: Action Steps

Academic Program Development

Creating a relevant and appealing menu of academic options

  • Full implementation of the Program Investment Fund
  • Continue academic program review, including developing a method to make program review a regular part of the university’s routine operational review process
  • Complete academic affairs structural realignment
  • Identify and launch new graduate program opportunities (MSW, MFA, Ph.D.)
  • Work with Academic Senate to streamline program approval and change process. This process should include experimentation and innovation.
  • Expand and improve support for academic service learning programs and efforts, as well as develop a co-curricular transcript method to document service and experiential learning and outcomes
  • Fully implement new General Education (formerly Liberal Studies) program
  • Encourage development of programs, courses and learning opportunities that emphasize the unique assets of the Upper Peninsula and its natural environment, and increase environmental literacy.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Success

Strategic Outcomes

  • Enhancing prestige and distinction
  • Establishing new and responsive approaches
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators

  • Academic affairs will report each year on the number of new academic programs, redesigned academic programs, and eliminated academic programs.
  • As each academic program has different indicators of success and excellence, each academic program will submit a list of success indicators ranging from publication records, student employment or graduate school placements, accreditations achieved to enrollment goals.
  • All programs eligible for programmatic accreditation will continue to receive accreditation.
  • Enrollment targets for each academic program will be established and met.
  • Implementation of an expanded co-curricular transcript will be established to better reflect the out of classroom learning experiences of students.



Graduate Studies

Growing and expanding a graduate program and student base.

The following are graduate program growth areas over the next five years.

  • Master of Social Work – 55

This includes expected demand, number of undergrads in our BSW program and clinical sites.

  • Masters in Athletic Training – 25

This is determined by the number of undergraduates in the program currently (the program would be a 3+2) and the number of clinical sites.

  • Speech Pathology – 25

This is based on current undergraduate enrollment.  The current program attempts to place all graduating students with a B average or greater in a Master’s program.  If we retained the students we currently send to other Master’s programs we would be near the estimated number of students in our Master’s program.

  • Masters of Fine Arts (Art & Design) – 25

This is based on the current MFA numbers in English. The MFA was farther from getting off the ground than the other programs so would need time to grow

  • Computer Science/Math – 10

A new program that will need some time to build a foundation.  Given time, this program will be attractive to international students.

  • The new M.S. Integrated Biosciences program has replaced the Biology/Biochemistry program and should result in a net gain of 10 graduate students.
  • MS Integrated Biosciences – proposal approved by Senate estimated enrollment at 8.  With a little marketing and working with faculty in Chemistry and EEGS reaching 10 net students (MSIBS replaced Biology/Biochemistry which resulted in the loss of a small number of students).

The programs above account for 150 new students (a conservative number once all programs are in place). With some face-to-face recruiting, targeted marketing and other recruitment measures it does not seem to be too large of a stretch to increase enrollment in our current programs in the next 5 years.  That would grow our total graduate head count above 1000 students would be an increase of over 200 graduate students in the next 5 years. The implementation of graduate programs in social work, athletic training and speech pathology will also be a useful for undergraduate recruitment and should result in increased undergraduate enrollments.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Success

Strategic Outcomes

  • Enhancing prestige and distinction
  • Establishing new and responsive approaches
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators

  • Graduate Studies will have fully approved and implemented to the point of registering students 3-4 new master’s level programs, as well as its first Ph.D. program and 1-2 doctorate level.
  • New and existing programs will be regularly hitting student enrollment targets (e.g. some suggested targets listed above) established by the departments.
  • All programs eligible for programmatic accreditation will continue to receive accreditation and new programs will seek out accreditation where eligible.


Retention Initiatives

While retention indicators remain strong, it is important to continue and expand retention efforts. The student risk factors with the highest potential impact on retention include academically under prepared, financial, minority status, and first generation status.

Retention enhancements include:

  • Continue to assign academic advisers from the Academic and Career Advisement Center (ACAC) to first-time, full-time baccalaureate and associate degree seeking freshmen as part of the Centralized Advising approach.  These students will continue to be transitioned to academic department advisers near the end of their second semester.
  • Continue to offer tutoring sessions in composition classes for Freshman Probation and College Transition Program students (EN090 and EN109 courses).
  • Continue to offer sections a tutor assisted reading support class (EN 103) to Freshman Probation and College Transition students.
  • Develop smaller class sizes in some math classes.
  • Continue to offer a technical mathematics course to vocational students with a focus on content that is specific to respective curricula.
  • Work to implement Hobson’s Starfish Retention Software and begin use in the fall of 2017:
    • Develop faculty and student training for use of Starfish.
    • Begin to collect data and measure the success of Starfish after completion of the 2017 Fall Semester.
  • Continue the redesign of the First Year Experience Program:
    • Continue to provide a block approach for FYE to maintain or enhance retention rates.
    • Redesign First Year Experience Program’s UN100 courses to be delivered in a large-group format (maximum 150 students per section), except for FP and CTP sections.  The redesign offers the opportunity to standardize course delivery and outcomes.
  • Re-establish a Retention Committee to oversee and evaluate current and future retention initiatives.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Success

Strategic Outcomes

  • Enhancing prestige and distinction
  • Establishing new and responsive approaches
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators
(Based on Centralized Advising, Freshmen Probation and College Transition Programs, First-Year Experience Program and full implementation and use of Starfish)

  • Academic Affairs will report each year on the current retention efforts and their rate of success.  The report will include any retention efforts developed and initiated through the student services units, as well as academic departmental enrollment committees.
  • Academic Affairs will develop a series of success indicators that measure retention based on national averages, peer institution averages and best practice measurements with a goal that Northern will be higher than both the national average and peer average in all success indicators within five-year period.
  • Have 50% faculty participation in Starfish progress surveys and use of early alert flags and kudos system. Have above 15% student participation in Starfish “raising their hand” option.
  • Reach 85% or higher in academic good standing for first semester academic performance (all FTFT freshmen, including FP/CTP), 75% for second semester, 65% for third semester and 55% for fifth semester.
  • Reach 85% or higher retention rate for all FTFT freshmen (including FP/CTP) for the second semester, 75% for third semester and 65% for fifth semester.
  • Reach 75% or higher for second semester pre-registration for all FTFT freshmen (including FP/CTP), 65% for third semester pre-registration and 55% for fifth semester pre-registration.

Research and Scholarship: Action Steps

Expanding the university’s research infrastructure to provide greater research support.

  • Review existing grant development office and recommend improvements
  • Develop a clear definition of success in research and scholarship, along with an operational path. Present both to Board of Trustees.
  • Increase support for faculty and student research travel.
  • Require each academic department to submit a comprehensive review of scholarly activities each year to Academic Affairs. 
  • Develop a process to share this report on a wide public and annual basis.
  • Have academic departments include research and scholarship goals as part of their programmatic strategic plans.
  • Encourage and support the pursuit of scholarly partners that bring distinction to Northern.
  • Office of Grants and Research will promote and develop partnerships with other institutions to support grant submissions, especially those that bring distinction to Northern.
  • Expand resources and services to support digital scholarship

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Academic Excellence
  • Investment and Innovation
  • Student Success

Strategic Outcomes

  • Enhancing prestige and distinction
  • Establishing new and responsive approaches

Success Indicators

  • Increase the number of external funding submissions by 10%.
  • Increase the amount of external funding by 10% for each individual department.
  • Expand the number of undergraduate scholarly opportunities through investments by the Program Investment Fund (PIF).
  • Meet scholarly standards for the HLC and for individual program accreditations.
  • Increase the number of campus and community based scholarly and creative activities.


Teaching and Learning: Action Steps

  • Working through the Center for Teaching and Learning, Northern will pay particular attention to expanding educational opportunities for faculty to engage in active learning instructional models.
  • Research on effective teaching practices will be encouraged and supported.
  • Significantly expand online learning opportunities for both traditional and non-traditional students.
  • Expand concurrent and dual-enrollment beyond the Upper Peninsula.
  • Empower the Center for Teaching and Learning to expand professional development opportunities for faculty and staff with particular emphasis on multi-dimensional instructional processes.
  • Develop and launch a national effort to bring educational opportunities to rural communities.
  • Using the Program Investment Fund and other mechanisms, promote the development of new programs, interdisciplinary programs and program redesign that takes advantage of differing instructional models.
  • Provide opportunities to develop contact with and knowledge of all types of diversity and diverse points of view on campus, within the United States and globally.
  • Enhance the culture of academic innovation and student success through calculated risk-taking, interdisciplinary collaboration and trendsetting delivery.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Success
  • Investment and Innovation

Strategic Outcomes

  • Establishing new and responsive approaches
  • Expanded partnerships
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators

  • Key assessment tools will be considered. Particular attention will be paid to both individual program accreditation and HLC indicators.
  • Enrollment through NMU’s Educational Access Network will be reported annually with a five-year target of 1200 students.
  • Expanded FCC license areas beyond the Upper Peninsula.
  • Launched a national effort to provide rural educational access.
  • Each program will identify individual success indicators and be reported annually.
  • Service learning success indicators.


New Student Recruitment Initiatives: Action Steps

Expanding the student base both on and off campus

Extended Learning:

Building enrollment from markets other than traditional on-campus students

  • NMU’s Educational Access Network: Portal providing tailored services for online degree seekers in two undergraduate and five graduate programs.  Full launch, with assistance of marketing services by external provider October 2016.
  • Online Degrees and Certificates: Expand online degree program offerings via academic accelerator.
  • Northern Promise: Engage additional high schools and NMU departments to provide concurrent enrollment opportunities.  5-7 high schools participating in 2017-18 with 150 high school students enrolled in courses. NMU’s expanded LTE network across the U.P. will also be leveraged for concurrently enrolled students and other populations, tied to course enrollment. 
  • International Recruitment: Grow international student enrollment to 250 through partnerships/exchanges, English Language Institute as pipeline, student recruitment via faculty relationships and activity abroad
  • Central to accomplishing a goal of 250 international students is building a stronger English Language Institute.
  • Expand the number of international students, international faculty and staff exchanges and joint programs with international institutions.           

Diversity and Inclusion:

Creating a more diverse student population

  • Under the leadership of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, develop a directed recruitment plan and implement it to broaden the university’s outreach to communities that have not been fully served by NMU.
  • Grow student enrollment from diverse domestic populations.
  • Expand the enrollment of Native American students from Michigan and launch a national recruitment campaign.
  • Support site visits from diverse communities and schools.
  • Greater partnerships with NMU authorized charter schools.
  • Identify and address the infrastructure necessary to support diverse campus populations.


Support all enrollment, community engagement and legislative goals

  • Institutional image/awareness marketing, including:
  • Academic cluster marketing
  • Marketing to enhance direct outreach activities (such as Pandora ads, Geo-targeting, Google ads, Facebook ads to target prospective students in vicinity of college fairs)
  • Market “ShareNorthern”

Financial Aid Restructuring:

Ensure that our need-based and merit financial aid supports student enrollment and student success

  • Deploy the restructured first-year and transfer student scholarships for better marketing, competitiveness, ease of understanding by target audiences.
  • Leverage change in Federal financial aid cycle in recruitment messaging and assistance.
  • Design specific message flow for the new financial aid timeline with the goal of being the university who is clear about the process and provides timely assistance.

Direct Outreach:

Undergraduate Recruitment Activity

  • Continue to conduct off-campus in-person recruitment in MI, WI, Northern IL, Minneapolis-St. Paul, seeking alternative ways to engage students and their influencers.
  • Add parent-to-parent components to programming.
  • Increase utilization of peer-to-peer recruitment through scaled up Student Ambassador Program (including technology initiative) and special initiatives (e.g. working with diversity officer and students organizations for outreach). Use ambassadors to increase connections at campus events where target audiences are participating (music festivals, robotics competitions, etc.).
  • Engage faculty through the ad hoc enrollment committees for targeted outreach
  • Based on summer assessment, enact appropriate augmentation to on-campus programming related to campus visits, group visits, scholarship competition, counselor visits to campus.
  • Continue partnership with University Marketing and Communication and IT staff to improve array of print and digital publications/communications, including increasing catalog of video, photo images and message content related to academic programs and student experiences. Increase automation through technology tools (e.g. deploy Journey Builder in connection with Salesforce CRM), but balance with personal outreach.
  • Leverage SAT options now that all MI juniors are taking the SAT (name purchases, data mining).
  • Improve strategic utilization of predictive modeling (scoring and ranking indicate prospects’ likelihood to apply and applicants’ likelihood to enroll) and assess its value to NMU.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Student Success
  • Investment and Innovation
  • Academic Excellence
  • Domestic and Global Outreach and Engagement

Strategic Outcomes

  • Managing enrollment
  • Expanded partnerships

Success Indicators

  • See table above for enrollment goals to 2020-2021
  • Continued growth of the middle college and established partnerships (public and private to increase Career and Technical Education (CTE) enrollment by 120.
  • The Educational Access Network will be fully launched with expanded efforts for continuing education and professional development to 1600 new students.
  • Twenty-five high school concurrent enrollment partners (K-12) will operational yielding 400 concurrent enrollment students.
  • Diverse student enrollment will expand by a minimum of 120 students.
  • Establish multiple international partnerships to grow base international student enrollment and Intensive English Institute enrollment by 200.


Facilities: Action Steps

Using facilities as a recruitment and retention initiative.

  • Complete the process and launch for the replacement of Quad I
  • Raise Summit Center apartments
  • Renovate the University Center
  • Launch the sustainability initiative
  • Continue to work on plans for future facilities development and renovation, including an undergraduate research facility, a business innovation center, a renovated Jacobetti Complex and Harden Learning Resource Center and revisions to Vandament Arena to accommodate men’s and women’s basketball

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Investment and Innovation
  • Student Success

Strategic Outcomes

  • Managing enrollment
  • Enhancing prestige and distinction

Success Indicators

  • Renovations of key buildings will be at or near completion.
  • Occupancy rates for housing exceeding 93%.
  • Enrollment surveys will be developed to determine the impact of facilities on student selection process
  • Completion of the Lee Hall renovation for the Institute for Research.
  • Construction begins for the Business Innovation Center.
  • Completion of the University Center renovation and expansion.
  • Funding model for the renovation of the Jacobetti Complex completed.
  • Completion of Harden Learning Resource Center reinvention.


Outreach and Partnerships: Action Steps

There are several key constituencies aligned with expanding outreach opportunities.

Alumni and Community Engagement:

  • Redefine the role of the alumni office and operations to create greater linkages with community engagement, student internships, career placement, and student recruitment.

Philanthropy and Advancement:

  • Redesign the advancement office and operation based on a CEO model with expanded fundraising targets. This includes the preparation for launching a targeted capital campaign.

Other Partnerships:

  • Expand the number of high school partnerships and the number of academic programs engaged in those partnerships.
  • Expand other types of potential partnerships, including new and potentially unique partnerships with the business community, non-profit community, environmental community, medical community and others for academic and research programs, business operations and technology applications.
  • Expand partnerships with international universities, colleges and communities.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Domestic and Global Outreach and Engagement
  • Student Success
  • Investment and Innovation

Strategic Outcomes

  • Expanded partnerships
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators

  • Reorganization of the Advancement division will be complete.
  • New CEO in place and annual fundraising goals will be established by division and college that will see a 50% increase in annual fundraising.
  • NMU Success Surveys for students, community leaders, employers, and alumni will be redesigned and fully integrated. Target goals will be established after base-line data is obtained.


Athletics: Action Steps

  • Develop a report (The Value of Athletics) to consider a wide range of factors including enrollment impacts, community engagement, student lives, academic success, diversity and inclusion, value of team, revenue produced and more.
  • Like academics, develop a method to make athletic program review a regular part of the university’s routine operational review process to help with consideration of new programs that can bring value to the university and athletic department, as well as aid in recruiting new student populations; and consideration of redesigning or eliminating of programs that do not meet university expectations.
  • Improve athletic facilities through private giving and other means.
  • Expand alumni engagement in athletics, in particular continue to expand the number and amount of giving by former student-athletes.
  • Develop a plan to address athletic event attendance with targeted goals for each individual sport.
  • Continue the process of comprehensive evaluations of our coaching and athletic staffs. This includes not only win-loss records but also academic performance of the student athletes.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Success
  • Domestic and Global Outreach and Engagement
  • Investment and Innovation

Strategic Outcomes

  • Enhancing prestige and distinction
  • Expanding partnerships
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators

  • Report to the campus community and Board of Trustees on the costs and benefits of supporting and expanding athletic programs.
  • NCAA Compliance.
  • Title IX Compliance.
  • Team grade point averages.
  • Team graduation rates.
  • Total number of student-athletes.
  • Attendance at events.
  • Student-athlete alumni engagement and giving along with other forms of external support.
  • Team performance records.
  • Overall athletic rankings.


General University Operations: Action Steps

There are several strategic goals and efforts related to Northern’s general daily operations.

Internal Campus Operations:

  • Increase transparency and clarity of campus communications.
  • Reshape the academic budget model to provide incentives and direct resources that support quality services and streamlined operations.
  • Develop change management and documentation procedures for major campus-wide initiatives.


  • Expand NMU’s LTE network across the Upper Peninsula and beyond.
  • Redesign university’s approach to website content, including development of a campus intranet.
  • Move university email to Google cloud.
  • Complete a comprehensive review of the laptop program to determine the future viability of the program.
  • Establish an ad hoc work group charged to develop communication and implementation plan and timeline for major campus technology initiatives.
  • Automate key processes to improve customer/user experience.

Valuing Employees:

  • Redesign the university’s recognition program, tying it more closely to the university’s mission, vision, core values and strategic plan.
  • Attract and retain diverse, exemplary faculty and staff by valuing each person’s unique identity, strengths and contributions.
  • Create leadership development curriculum and resources to increase supervisor/leader effectiveness.
  • Increase individual contributor development opportunities for staff.
  • Complete employee satisfaction/engagement survey and action planning process.

Strategic Focus Areas

  • Domestic and Global Outreach and Engagement
  • Student Success
  • Investment and Innovation

Strategic Outcomes

  • Expanded partnerships
  • Managing enrollment

Success Indicators

  • Increase faculty and staff diversity
  • Improve employee satisfaction scores on employee satisfaction/engagement survey
  • NMU LTE network will cover 90% or more of the Upper Peninsula.
  • FCC license will be expanded beyond Upper Peninsula.
  • Appropriate recommendations from Action Project on “Valuing People” will be implemented to improve the university’s recognition of faculty and staff achievements and work-related challenges.
  • Appropriate recommendations from Transparency Project will be implemented to improve the university’s transparency and communication regarding major university initiatives and campus-wide decisions.
  • NMU will have fully operational internet and intranet options for web-based materials, and NMU campus community will have ongoing training to learn how and when to use each.