Editorial: Vision 2020 sounds good, but is it practical?

By The Editorial Board

On Wednesday, we published our expectations for NIU President John Peters’ State of the University address.

We said we would like to see Peters talk about: how NIU will tackle the budget situation; how to recruit and retain students; and the new buildings that will be built on campus.

And on Thursday, Peters, more or less, did address these things. It was just all under the Vision 2020 Initiative.

The initiative, according to Peters, will “identify our key aspirations for academic and student life programs and clearly define specific benchmarks for student, faculty, and facility excellence. This will require accurately assessing where we stand now and projecting where we must be in the future.”

The overall goal: “The most student-centered public research university in the Midwest.”

It’s hard to disagree with any of the goals outlined by Peters. Why shouldn’t NIU compete with the best of the best? Why shouldn’t graduation rates be higher? Why shouldn’t more NIU students participate in programs like USOAR (Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artisty and Research Programs) or in internships abroad?

The only thing we have questions about is measuring this kind of success. It’s easy to mark the progress of renovating parts of the Holmes Student Center, but how does one measure something like “engaged learning?”

We’re going to grant NIU the benefit of the doubt. After all, it has only been five days since NIU announced the initiative. We really hope Vision 2020 accomplishes all of its goals.

But nothing good will come from everyone drinking the same Kool-Aid; NIU needs to adapt if it turns out that a particular goal is either immeasurable or impossible.