NMU Strategic Plan

Investing in Innovation: The vision and courage to lead transformational change.

UNIVERSITY MISSION: Northern Michigan University’s distinctive academic and career programs are nurtured by exceptional teaching and extensive opportunities for scholarship, creativity and engagement. Our supportive, connected community empowers students, graduates, faculty and staff to contribute to a diverse and sustainable world.

UNIVERSITY VISION: Northern Michigan University promotes an active environment to foster strong minds and bodies, inspires innovation and inclusion through community engagement, and develops leaders capable of local and global impact.


  • Community - Northern has a distinctive sense of place – some refer to it as the upper hand. We are a warm, friendly, caring and helpful university.  We are collaborative, on campus and off, valuing partnerships and service to each other, the community and the region. Our focus is always on students.
  • Opportunity - Like Lake Superior’s vastness, there is depth and breadth to Northern’s wide range of academic, research and scholarship, international travel and student service programs. We are affordable and accessible. We use our many resources to achieve deep personal and professional growth in ourselves and provide it for others.
  • Rigor - A Northern education is like the black rocks that protect Gichigami’s shores – a solid foundation that will endure the waves of time and change. We achieve academic excellence through top-caliber teaching, learning, research and service. Our work ethic and integrity are powered by discipline, courage, pride, sisu (determination), perseverance and the desire to help others succeed, in and out of the classroom.
  • Environment - The unparalleled rugged beauty of the physical environment at Northern's campus doorstep is something we admire, study, learn from, strive to protect and enjoy year-round. And like the Anishinaabe, we see a responsibility to plan for sustainability seven generations into the future.
  • Inclusion - Northern is a safe and welcoming place. We aspire to learn from and encourage each other as global citizens, neighbors, colleagues and family. We desire to be a role model in embracing all types of diversity and diverse points of view, engaging in civil society and governance, protecting human rights and promoting social justice.
  • Connection - At Northern, we make connections in dynamic ways, creatively using resources and technology to link people, ideas and projects. We nurture strong ties to the environment, community, disciplines, and our rich history and traditions. Like the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), these connections are often luminous and inspiring.
  • Innovation - Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has always been home to bold, creative risk-takers and problem-solvers. Here, we excel at being inquisitive in looking beyond what is to what could be. We believe exploration unleashes and builds strength of mind and character. We endeavor to be entrepreneurs, discoverers and the best within our chosen fields.


  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Success
  • Domestic and Global Outreach and Engagement
  • Investment and Innovation


  • Enhancing prestige and distinction – in ways that ensure we are known for our teaching, experiential learning, scholarship, mentoring and service.
  • Establishing new and responsive approaches – for programs, services, technology and our ways of operating.
  • Expanded partnerships – with alumni, friends, communities, businesses, government agencies, schools, colleges and universities, in and across academic disciplines and with people here and around the world.
  • Growing and managing enrollment – strengthening our on-campus student body while increasing efforts regarding new student populations such as online, off-campus, underrepresented, international and nontraditional.

INVESTMENT PRIORITIES: Northern Michigan University will invest in the great ideas of its stakeholders to bring about transformational change. Ideas will be evaluated by their potential for return on investment, as well as positive impact on core values, strategic focus areas and outcomes, and the university's mission and vision.  All initiatives of the Strategic Plan will include success indicators by which to evaluate progress. A university-wide Strategic Planning and Budgeting Advisory Committee will be created to help with prioritizing proposals for investment.

IMPLEMENTATION: A set of preliminary goals was developed at the time the Strategic Plan framework was worked on. These were used as the foundation to then create a full implementation plan.  Both the preliminary goals, categorized by NMU's core values, and the phase 2 implementation plan, which includes revised versions of the preliminary goals, several new goals and success indicators for each goal, underwent significant review by NMU stakeholders. In February 2018, the NMU Board of Trustees was presented with a progress report of the Strategic Implementation Goals and Plan.