Academic Master Plan

Academic Master Plan

Vision, Mission, Core Principles, and Initiatives

FINAL -- August 2016


Academic Master Plan Draft Update, December 2019


Vision and Mission


The University of Northern Iowa (Who We Are)

We are a comprehensive university offering a distinctive educational experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels that engages students inside and outside the classroom. Students encounter a rigorous curriculum in a supportive environment and opportunities for applied learning outside the classroom that are intentional and developmental, ensuring academic success and preparation for professional careers.

Consistent with its heritage since its founding in 1876, the university has a strong emphasis on teacher education. Building on this historic foundation, the university has also developed nationally recognized programs in arts and sciences and business, all with a strong foundation in the liberal arts. As a community, faculty, staff, and students collectively commit to the advancement of knowledge, service to a diverse society, and the pursuit of truth and wisdom.


Vision (Who We Aspire to Become)

The University of Northern Iowa will achieve national prominence as a premier comprehensive university for an engaged, integrative education that promotes academic and professional success, civic responsibility, and a fulfilling life in a diverse and dynamic world.


Mission (How We Will Get There)

The University of Northern Iowa is dedicated to providing an engaged and integrative education that connects our curriculum to applied, experiential learning and that educates the whole person. Grounded in the liberal arts, our academic programs develop critical thinking and creative abilities, advance intercultural literacy and a global perspective, foster community engagement and civic responsibility, and nurture curiosity, imagination, and lifelong learning. Faculty, staff, and students promote and respect diversity, foster environmental sustainability, and engage in service with others. With its emphasis on teaching and learning, the university pursues academic excellence, supports research, scholarship and discovery, and recognizes scientific, artistic, humanistic, and other modes of expression.


Core Principles and Initiatives

Core Principle 1: Foster an Engaged and Integrative Learning Environment. We will develop teaching and learning practices that will emphasize academic and intellectual integration and innovation in an environment that elevates applied learning experiences. We will rejuvenate and invest in our curriculum and our scholarly and service activities to be forward looking.


  1. Cultivate and support intentional and developmental engaged learning experiences.

  2. Create university wide learning outcomes that integrate the entire university experience and will guide a student’s journey.

  3. Develop a Liberal Arts Core that provides a strong foundation for an engaged and integrative education.

  4. Invest in an integrative curriculum that includes diverse pathways for student success.

  5. Practice meaningful and sustainable assessment that informs changes to curriculum and pedagogy for improved student learning.

Core Principle 2: Advance Student Engagement and Success. We will demonstrate strong support for advancing the academic, professional, and personal success of our students. We will emphasize holistic and integrative education, seeking to assist students in finding purpose and meaning in their lives.


  1. Develop a pedagogy of engagement that deepens the emphasis on applied learning in the curriculum, co-curriculum, and extra-curriculum and develops explicit connections for students across these learning experiences.

  2. As part of the focus on Engaged Learning, strengthen student leadership and professional development opportunities through intentional collaborations between academic affairs and student affairs, as well as other divisions on campus.

  3. Promote a developmental model of academic advising that values the impact of professional and faculty advisors on student success.

  4. Create targeted workshops, advising, and mentoring for special populations (e.g., first generation students, underrepresented students).

  5. Develop a comprehensive enrollment management master plan.

Core Principle 3: Value Faculty and Staff Excellence. We will nurture an outstanding work environment that demonstrates a commitment to faculty and staff professional knowledge, continuing career development, and personal growth. The University recognizes that employees who are highly prepared and deeply appreciated promote a productive learning environment.


  1. Promote an environment that attracts, develops and sustains the highest quality faculty and staff.  

  2. Provide resources for faculty and staff for continued professional development and for success in different career stages.

  3. Promote a culture of cross-campus collaboration for faculty and staff that leads to the development of a unique, transdisciplinary community.

  4. Create a shared governance model that is inclusive and collaborative in nature and that involves the campus community in owning the vision of the university.

Core Principle 4: Elevate Diversity, Sustainability, and Community Engagement. We will create an atmosphere where diversity, sustainability, and community engagement are integrated across the campus as central values of a forward looking educational experience and workplace environment.


  1. Through the Diversity Advisory Committee, working with the Diversity and Inclusion Council, the Chief Diversity Officer, and the campus community, finalize an action plan for diversity.

  2. Activate a Sustainability Advisory Committee and develop an action plan for sustainability.

  3. Activate a Community Engagement Advisory Committee and develop an action plan for community engagement.