Board of Trustees approves Freeman’s FY21 goals


NIU President Lisa Freeman speaks during a Board of Trustee meeting Dec. 11, 2017.

Kierra Frazier, News Editor

DeKALB – The Board of Trustees unanimously approved NIU President Lisa Freeman’s FY21 goals, which focus on increasing enrollment, expanding social justice education and more at Thursday’s meeting. 

Each year the university president presents the board with a list of goals for NIU and the president to accomplish. 

This year, the goals follow six themes: empowerment and shared responsibility; student recruitment, student success and student experience; academic excellence and curriculum innovation; diversity, equity and inclusion; research, artistry and engagement; and resource development and fiscal responsibility. 

Typically, the goals are put forward in the summer, but Freeman said releasing them in the fall allowed for more conversations with the NIU community.

For FY21, Freeman plans to expand social justice training to include anti-racism training, continue efforts to increase the recruitment of diverse faculty and create a website that highlights NIU’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. 

“The university understands the responsibility to address those challenges, as well as the imperative to challenge and correct structures that produce inequitable outcomes, and the need to be more intentionally anti-racist,” Freeman said. 

Board chairperson Dennis Barsema said all of the goals were inclusive of each other in that they’re all integrated into each other.

“We can’t have student success without diversity, equity and inclusion,” Barsema said. “We can’t have academic success without research success and vice versa. I guess you could make a point that we can’t have any of these without fiscal responsibility.” 

Board Vice Chair Eric Wasowicz said the goals are a large effort to put together, despite how they may look on paper. 

“We are ahead in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion and in handling equity gaps because we have a focus on this as a university, and with your goals so goes the university goals so this does matter,” Wasocicz said. 

Freeman also hopes to increase Fall 2021 enrollment to 17,005 students, in alignment with the university’s Strategic Enrollment Management plan. Freeman also hopes to sustain fall-to-fall retention rates for first-time, full-time students between 76% to 80%.

The enrollment and retention goals focus on closing gaps in degree attainment for low-income, Black and Latinx students. Freeman also plans to update promotional materials shared with prospective students and families to increase enrollment.

“As these goals were formulated, they were very much formulated with the eye of focusing what we do this year, and truthfully in subsequent years on the things that matter most,” Freeman said.  

Due to the disruption of the pandemic on the university’s budget, Freeman also hopes to provide trustees with quarterly budget updates to keep members informed. 

Financially, Freeman also hopes to achieve $20 million in total philanthropy efforts towards the university. 

Trustee Veronica Herrero said this year’s presidential goals are an evolution of the work the university has completed. 

“I think it’s a real representation of where we are as an institution and the level of trust across the community, the entire Huskie community and with the board, and we’re able to also move on to the more qualitative measures and it’s really exciting,” Herrero said. 

Freeman’s FY21 Presidential goals can be found here.