Revisiting the Past to Reclaim the Future

Emmanuel Gonzalez, Managing Editor

Hahs listens intently as speakers present.
Hahs listens intently as speakers present.


Are they still useful? Do they need rewording? And is an idea missing? These are the questions proposed by President Sharon K. Hahs regarding NEIU’s strategic goals.

“Now, we are not looking to make major changes in our six strategic goals,” Hahs said. “In essence, they’re still quite good and were meant to last a long time more.”

Discussion of these questions took place at several different tables in Alumni Hall on University Day, an annual event that the entire university community is welcome to and encouraged to attend.

The theme for this year’s discussion was “Refreshing our Strategic Plan,” the goal being that revisions would be made as necessary to the actions steps that will steer the future of the university for the next several years.

“You just don’t wake up knowing exactly what you need to do,” said Hahs to the Independent. “That’s why we have events like these—to encourage conversation.”

According to the strategic plan’s timeline on NEIU’s website, brainstorming for the strategic plan first began in 2007, and in 2008, it went through its final review under the Steering Committee, making its opening debut to the Board of Trustees days later.

University Day began by having each different group at a table identify some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of NEIU. Each group chose a speaker at the end of the brainstorming session to announce one of the ideas the group came up with in each category.

The following quotes are taken from speakers presenting for their group at the end of the brainstorming session. The ideas are not representative of the specific individual and therefore are not attributed.


“We are one institution that has this terrific second chance. We really can bring (students) a lot farther than a lot of other institutions.”

“We have relative campus safety in terms of the fact that we are in an urban area. And we do have a safe feeling and a safe campus environment.”

“Our students bring wealth, knowledge and experience to the institution.”

“Committed faculty and staff, there is a spirit of self-determination.”


“We have problems with actually implementing our shared governance structure, it seems to be on paper only. A lack of transparency was also brought up—mistrust.”

“Our academic programs, the curriculum, we would like to see more practical areas where there is a connection between majors and careers.”

“A lack of communication on all levels: top, down and bottom-up. There is a lack of communication skills.”


“Some other people see it as a threat, but actually the fact that we’re an HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) from a long time ago makes us a trailblazer in this area. We should have a leadership role in HSI status.”

“College of education partnerships.”

“Opportunities…Political support for Northeastern, which was very apparent, the ribbon cutting event of El Centro.”


“We are losing the goodwill of the community at this point with the external debate over the eminent domain. To talk about an external threat, we do have a group outside of here.”

“Competition. Basically, UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) becoming an HSI.”

“We feel we’re perhaps not well-known.”

“Another weakness, and these are my words so you can’t blame anyone else at the table; a byzantian governance structure. So a lack of ‘Who does what, and how do you do it’ in terms of governance,” said John M. Kasmer, chair of the biology department.

After a quick coffee break, the groups were back at it, this time in discussion of the six strategic goals of NEIU. Each group again, chose a speaker for the table to present the ideas that were come up with.

“We believe that they are still useful but they need some modification or revising. And alumnus are not mentioned any. We talked about it, and some of us are alumni here.”

“What is missing? Something that was agreed upon by our group was success of students after graduation. Maybe integrated experiences within the classroom, internships, service opportunities. Equip them in a better position, once they do obtain their degrees, to get a job and to become successful.”

“Goal number three in urban leadership…we’re not just based in Chicago or the region, we’re professional. We’ve got national partnerships across the country. We need to reflect that. We need to reflect international partnerships and the fact that we are preparing urban leaders.”

The hot-button issue that most groups had in common was the idea of adding language of alumni to the strategic goals, as well as language for educational experience outside of classrooms.

“Someone suggested that maybe we prioritize our goals, just for the record, we did. And we put student success first,” said Hahs.

Hahs wrapped up University Day by addressing some of the concerns that were presented that already have an answer. Though, there was much to the discussion of the different groups that will contribute to NEIU’s direction towards the future.

“Be sure pleased, everything that you have said today is on a piece of paper so it will come to us (The Strategic Planning and Steering Committee) to work with. Because you have really done a wonderful job and a thoughtful job,” said Hahs.

“There is a lot that will happen after today.”

NEIU’s Strategic Plan, along with additional resources, can be found on NEIU’s website at: