The foundation for our future: Strategic plan shapes UNI for tomorrow

The foundation for our future: Strategic plan shapes UNI for tomorrow

Aerial view of University of Northern Iowa Campus


The University of Northern Iowa’s purpose is to enrich lives, communities and the world through our students, faculty, staff and our alumni.

It’s a bold purpose – our why – and it’s providing the foundation for the future of UNI as we look forward to our 175th anniversary in 2051. This why statement identifies how we will accomplish our purpose:

  • Through personalized attention, we create an environment in which every person is able to reach their academic, professional and personal life goals.

  • By investing in the success of our students, faculty and staff, we empower individuals to build strong senses of purpose, community and responsibility.

  • ‌By investing in individuals, we innovate ethical solutions to the problems of our time.

The Future Vision was developed in 2018-2019 by a broad workgroup from faculty and staff across campus, student leadership and a community representative. The workgroup was charged with researching and learning about future trends impacting higher education, Iowa and the broader world, and recommending a set of vision elements for UNI.

“We need to be thinking and planning well into the future,” said UNI President Mark Nook in his charge to the workgroup. “The decisions we make today will impact UNI 30 years in the future.”

UNI’s Future Vision and why statement served as the framework for the 2023-2028 strategic plan.

Beginning in 2021, the UNI Strategic Planning Committee led a year-long process to engage the campus community, Cedar Valley, State of Iowa and beyond in the work of preparing “Create. Empower. Innovate.” Through on-campus idea walls and a survey of faculty, staff and students, community town halls throughout Iowa, and work sessions with Iowa community college leaders and the UNI Foundation and Alumni Association boards, the UNI Strategic Planning Committee had thousands of voices to help shape the contours of the plan.

The university’s Future Vision and the launch of a new strategic planning process inspired a wave of planning efforts across campus by various colleges, academic departments and programs. These unit-level planning efforts have focused on envisioning their “tomorrows” and determining how their aspired futures align with the university’s strategic plan and make progress toward achieving the Future Vision of UNI in 2051.

In many ways, the culmination of the university’s future visioning and all of the strategic planning across campus in recent years was the successful launch of the Our Tomorrow campaign (over $250 million raised to date), which was publicly launched in October 2022. The investments made through the Our Tomorrow campaign will impact our students, Iowa and the world today, but also over the next 50 years and beyond.




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The University of Northern Iowa creates, empowers and innovates to enrich Iowa and beyond