Editorial Board has hopes the administration will hold true to their promises

The Northern Star Editorial Board is encouraged by President Lisa Freeman’s rededication to transparency and plans to hold the administration accountable for following through on these promises.

Freeman said Tuesday that going forward, she and her office plan to commit to providing transparency regarding presidential expenditures and university direction. With increasing enrollment at the forefront of the goals for FY19, Freeman stressed the importance of fiscal accountability.

NIU released its 2019-2022 Strategic Enrollment Management Plan Jan. 15. The plan highlights three primary goals for attracting and retaining students over the next four years: strengthening the university’s distinctive identity with by reinforcing branding methods, finely tailoring recruitment strategies and providing attractive scholarships and financial aid opportunities and identifying areas where the needs of a diverse student population are not yet met. Freeman is citing the plan as part of her improvement on transparency.


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Freeman’s goals for the coming years are well articulated as well as restated in the FY19 Goals document released on the NIU website. The plan also contextualizes the challenges faced by the university in terms of enrollment and retention, citing lack of state funding and increasing competition with other universities as key factors that contribute to decreased enrollment.

Less clear, however, are the specific courses of action the administration will take to meet the goals it established, nor how the administration plans to be transparent about how funds for these projects are allocated. Objectives like “stabilize total enrollment” and “collaborate to close achievement gaps” stated in the FY19 Goals document do little to outline what resources will be used where, and these generalities don’t lend themselves to the promise of transparency Freeman outlined in her Presidential Goals.

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In the breakdown of the university’s goal to tighten branding and maintain a consistent image, the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan states “[citing] financial investment in university marketing and advertising,” “[completing] a comprehensive brand tracking study” and “[centralizing] critical brand activities such as advertising, media buys and graphic design” as steps to attract attention to what NIU has to offer potential students. The plan mentions no numbers or names, leaving some aspects of the administration’s blueprint in obscurity.

Promising are Freeman’s vows to remain forthright with the university’s intentions and seek new avenues for providing financial aid and scholarship opportunities to incoming students. However, if the university aims to recover the reputation of an institution that can be trusted, its inclusion of specific actions and number signs in future documentation would help to assure current and prospective students university funds are being allocated respectably.