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University Strategic Plans


Northwestern University has undergone three strategic planning processes driven by the Vice President of Administration and Planning and the Planning team. Each plan, though different in its approach, has sought to advance Northwestern’s eminence as a national and global leader of education and research.

In order to develop NorthWEstern Will, the University's current strategic plan, the Planning team worked with the Provost to facilitate and manage the process by which the plan's framework, content, and recommendations were created. This process spanned two years, engaging students, faculty, staff, and alumni through discussions, focus groups, and workgroups. The workgroups were charged with developing recommendations for the strategic plan, and consisted of almost 150 individuals across the University community. More about this process can be found here.

Further information about the reports of the Highest Order of Excellence I and II and NorthWEstern Will can be found below.

Strategic Plans

NorthWEstern Will

Released to the Northwestern community in 2011, NorthWEstern Will builds upon the University's current strengths and focuses energies and resources on the most pressing issues that Northwestern is distinctively positioned to address. The We Will plan encourages Northwestern to achieve significant goals in four areas, or pillars, critical to the University's future:

Additional information about the NorthWEstern Will planning process and the entire strategic plan can be found here

Highest Order of Excellence II

Building upon the first installation of The Highest Order of Excellence, this strategic plan was released in 2004 and sought to identify broad, flexible ideas aimed at moving the University toward an overarching interdisciplinary vision. The plan recognized the value of an interdisciplinary approach to education and research, and intended to ensure Northwestern would be the university of choice for the most talented faculty and students years into the future. In order to achieve these goals, the plan laid out its vision in three parts: 

The entire Highest Order of Excellence II strategic plan can be found here

Highest Order of Excellence I

The Highest Order of Excellence I was unveiled to Northwestern stakeholders in 1997, laying the groundwork for Northwestern University to achieve dramatic success in the 21st century. To build upon previous achievements and further advance the University, the plan called for Northwestern to:

The entire Highest Order of Excellence I strategic plan can be found here