Strategic Plan Overview

November 1, 2011

Northwestern University will continue to discover, integrate, connect and engage in the future, according to the University’s strategic plan, which will be presented to the University community next week. Those four pillars serve as the guideposts in the new plan.

The plan details four areas that will be the focus of the University in the coming decade. As stated in the plan, they are:

  • Discover creative solutions. We will work together through research and innovation to create solutions to problems that will improve lives, communities and the world.
  • Integrate learning and experience. We will, more than ever before, integrate student learning with experiences in the world beyond the classroom.
  •  Connect our community. We will close the gap between intentions and outcomes to connect individuals from widely diverse backgrounds and life experiences to a truly inclusive community.
  • Engage with the world. We will, through strategic partnerships, engage locally, nationally and internationally to heighten our global impact for the greater good.

“This is a plan by and for our community that has been enthusiastically endorsed by the University Board of Trustees,” said President Morton Schapiro. “It provides a clear direction for how Northwestern University will continue to advance strategically and with unit of purpose from our current position of strength to even greater national and international prominence.”

President Schapiro and Provost Daniel Linzer will present the plan Tuesday, Nov. 1 and Wednesday, Nov. 2 at meetings on the Evanston and Chicago campuses. The culmination of nearly two years of work involving more than 140 members of the University community, the plan sets a direction for Northwestern University in the next decade.

On the Evanston campus, the plan will be presented at a meeting to be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Allen Center McCormick Foundation Auditorium, Room 164. On the Chicago campus, the plan presentation meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2 in Wieboldt Hall Room 147. A reception will follow each meeting. The meetings are open to all members of the Northwestern community. Copies of the plan will be distributed to all faculty and staff and will be available at the meetings and other locations on campuses. The plan also is available online at:

http://www.northwestern.edu/strategic-plan/

Within each of the four areas of focus, the plan lays out more specific objectives, strategies to reach those objectives and examples of how the University already is working toward them. For example, in the section, “Discover Creative Solutions,” the plan identifies several areas of greatest strength and cites the University’s efforts to promote interdisciplinary interactions.

In another section, “Engage with the World,” the plan calls on Northwestern to expand its impact at home and abroad by doing such things as creating strong partnerships with other Chicago-area institutions and by expanding the University’s global research activities, locations and partners.

“Achieving the goals this strategic plan lays out will challenge us all. It should. Because we have the strength to achieve them, we will,” said Provost Linzer.

More than 140 members of the Northwestern community, including faculty, students, administrative staff, alumni and trustees, served on the eight task forces that helped develop the strategic plan over the past two years. The planning process was spearheaded by Provost Linzer and supported by Marilyn McCoy, vice president for administration and planning; Evelyn Caliendo, director of planning and associate secretary to the Board of Trustees; and Jake Julia, associate vice president for change management and associate provost for academic initiatives.

“This plan is the result of many months of information gathering, analysis, and careful thought by community members across all disciplines and functions. Their service to the University is deeply appreciated,” President Schapiro said.

The strategic plan follows a similar, successful effort that occurred in the 1990s. Northwestern at that time developed a strategic plan, “The Highest Order of Excellence,” and a follow-up plan that served as the framework for the University’s significant improvements over the past decade. That plan also was the launching pad for Campaign Northwestern, the $1.5 billion fundraising campaign that was completed successfully in 2003.