Wong Previews 'Roadmap to 2015'


Several topics in addition to the smoking survey were discussed at Thursday’s university forum. President Les Wong gave a preview of the “Roadmap to 2015” that he will share in more detailed form later. This strategic plan for the university is organized around the following four concepts:


Academic Innovation: “We need to take a critical look at the programs in our academic portfolio, explore innovations related to our blossoming relationships with MGH and regional and international corporations and revise our liberal studies program so it complements our majors and the overall academic experience,” Wong said. He also mentioned the possibility of internal sabbaticals – giving faculty time off to work on course design and explore new delivery options and other measures to enhance their own teaching.


Meaningful Lives: “A university education doesn't just give you the tools, interests and motivation to succeed in terms of getting a job; it powers your brain for the rest of your life. How do we hand over more direct guidance of learning to the student rather than directing it from outside the student? What are the things we do that contribute to student success and assist them in leading meaningful lives?”


Leveraging Campus Attributes: “I’m really interested in letting people loose to develop professional development plans. We focus so much on students, which is great, but sometimes it comes at the expense of learning things ourselves. We need an organized professional development system, along with a compensation and incentive system that rewards innovative work.”


Community Engagement: “I would like to develop much broader student engagement in community activities, whether it’s leadership programs or work for their hometowns, local governments or school districts. To what degree do we institutionalize a student’s willingness to improve their communities? Perhaps even separate it from a reward system. I believe students are willing to get involved when it’s not for pay or status.”


“Roadmap to 2015” will be a living document, composed of measurable goals that – when achieved – can be replaced by new goals to move the university forward. The roadmap will align with the goals NMU will pursue as part of the AQIP accreditation process. A detailed plan will be released over the next couple of weeks and Wong encourages input from NMU employees. In looking to the future, he said Northern must refuse to compromise its reputation as a high-touch, high-tech and high-quality institution.


Wong also gave a legislative budget update. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has called for an average 3 percent funding increase for higher education in her executive budget. Northern is one of four universities that would receive the base increase of 2.3 percent.


Funding levels are based on a formula that factors in the number of Pell Grant students (NMU ranks second behind UM-Flint), the number of degrees awarded (with extra value assigned to those from the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, areas), and the commercialization of university-related patents, copyrights and research grants.


Wong gives his Senate testimony on behalf of NMU Feb. 25 at Grand Valley State University. His House testimony is tentatively scheduled for March 28.


Other forum topics included the following: an update on the accreditation process; an overview of the university’s sustainability efforts; a review of the master plan for the physical campus; and a discussion of retention, which was the primary factor in Northern ending its streak of enrollment growth this fall after nine consecutive years.

The forum PowerPoint presentation is available here.  


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Updated: February 15, 2008

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