If NIU wants to tackle some of its biggest problems, especially with student retention, then NIU President Doug Baker needs to continue making goals that can be measured on a semester-by-semester basis.
In the past, administrators tried to tackle problems with overly ambitious goals. Former President John Peters’ Vision 2020 Initiative, which focused on making NIU the “most student-centered public research university in the Midwest,” created an overreaching goal of raising NIU’s enrollment to 30,000 students by 2020. Enrollment’s drop from 25,254 students in fall 2007 to 20,611 students this semester shows NIU needs to focus on short-term goals. The administration should put an emphasis on short-term goals that can amount to something bigger rather than adding more long-term visions.
One of Baker’s practical goals includes having flat enrollment for the fall 2015 semester, meaning the university’s enrollment would neither fall nor rise significantly. This short-term goal is a realistic approach to fixing NIU’s declining enrollment.
When administrators tackle short-term issues with practical goals then the bigger issues the university faces will seem less challenging. By taking this practical approach, Baker is moving the university and its administration in the right direction.