Strategic Priorities

In order to achieve our vision, we have identified six major strategic priorities for the university, each aligned with our mission.

To grow our student body, we must build a truly distinctive IIT education that is valued by our students as well as those who wish to partner with us or hire our graduates. This distinctiveness must be based on disciplinary excellence that is enhanced by an overarching education that prepares each student for individual success after graduation. There will be a focus on exposing our undergraduate students to areas more traditionally associated with our strengths in graduate education—design, business, law (especially intellectual property), and psychology. There will also be an emphasis on collaborative experiences where interdisciplinary teams engage to solve real-world problems that in some cases may result in sustained economic value.

Our students must practice creative thought, learn to innovate, understand entrepreneurial activity and the development of enterprise, and become excellent communicators and leaders who are internationally sophisticated and globally aware. As a private university, we must have as a goal to deliver an education that prepares our graduates for successful lives—ones in which they contribute in their fields the first day after graduation as well as 20 years later, and in which they obtain leadership positions.

As we focus on growing and developing our student body, we will increase our retention rate, graduation rate, and placement rate to those equivalent to or better than our peer institutions. To be successful in this endeavor, we must involve our worldwide alumni population in the identification of potential students, in the mentoring of current students, and in the placement of our graduates.

The growth of our student body is necessary and desirable in order to enhance the impact of our institution on society. It will also enable us to develop the financial resources necessary to hire outstanding faculty members, ensure that our physical plant is not only updated but appropriate to attain our other goals, and allow strategic investment in the future of our university.

Our focus will be to produce graduates who have discipline-specific expertise and who are also known for their ability to collaborate, create, innovate, initiate, and lead. In this strategy we will partner with the city of Chicago and become a positive influence for change by applying our innovations to the benefit of our larger community.

Our strategies to grow and develop the student body are as follows

  1. Build a truly distinctive IIT education.
    • Develop academic programs and strategies that distinctively define the IIT graduate.
    • Add design, law, psychology, and business components to the undergraduate education to reflect our graduate strengths.
    • Establish and operate an Innovation Center that attracts and develops faculty and students who aspire to become the leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs of the future.
    • Increase the number of interdisciplinary co-terminal degree programs.
  2. Balance the university population.
    • Stabilize the graduate population at 5,000 (4,000 Mies Campus).
    • Increase the undergraduate population to 4,000, or 50 percent of the student body on the Mies Campus.
  3. Increase retention, the graduation rate, and student placement.
    • Increase the retention rate to 95 percent in all years.
    • Increase the six-year undergraduate graduation rate to 75 percent.
    • Exceed the AITU placement average (currently 90 percent per year) for all graduates.
  4. Increase the worldwide alumni population that supports and promotes the university.

Our university’s overarching programs must be focused on the development of the person as a whole. Therefore, to promote meaningful innovation and excellence, we must establish an environment for, and a mindset among, our faculty, students, and staff where creativity is valued and encouraged. We must strive to support collaboration in every aspect of university life. We must commit to ensuring that our faculty scholarship is well recognized globally and to increasing that scholarship in every field. We must enhance all university processes with a goal to make all interactions positive and to have those interactions lead to the constructive solution of problems. We must purposefully link our university to the growing worldwide innovation network by partnering with key organizations in Chicago.

In addition to our academic programs, out-of-class experiences will be an important consideration. The Leadership Academy, the Entrepreneurship Academy (including the Knapp Entrepreneurial Center), Student and Residence Life, our Living and Learning Communities, fraternities and sororities, undergraduate research opportunities, Study Abroad Program, student clubs, and athletics are all part of a vital university experience.

The Innovation Center

We will establish and operate an "Innovation Center" (IC) with a vision to "attract and develop students and faculty who will learn to convert their creative ideas into significant viable innovations" and a mission to "nurture the advancement of creative ideas, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and create a culture that enables innovation to flourish."

The Innovation Center will be a place where students, faculty, and partners will be inspired, work together with like-minded yet diversely skilled people, and have access to resources and support to develop extraordinary innovations. It will be a unique environment on campus, and through its distinctive design, programming, and diverse population, it will be admired and recognized as a premier example for the successful integration of innovation, education, and collaboration. It will help create, from within our student body and faculty, the thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators of the future, and will be a source of pride for the IIT community.

On the Mies Campus, the IC will be a home for the Institute of Design, the new Idea Shop, and our Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program. It will also be an experimental facility for the initiation, development, and nurturing of academic programs related to innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship. It will be a space and a destination to encourage collaboration between and among faculty, students, alumni, and the entrepreneurial community that will lead to meaningful innovations. It will also be a center for our entrepreneurial outreach activities, strengthening the university’s technology transfer and commercialization programs, as well as the Knapp Entrepreneurial Center, and providing support for both faculty and student-generated concepts for products and processes. And it will be linked to our vibrant University Technology Park; as the ideas nurtured in the IC mature, their development will require a company-centric space.

The Teaching and Learning Center

We must also initiate a Teaching and Learning Center. Its objective is to promote and share best practices among our faculty, develop new educational pedagogies, and introduce new faculty to the IIT way of education. We will also develop the next generation of IPRO, improve our blended classrooms, and continue development of our online education within this center.

We have the following strategies to promote innovation and excellence:

  1. Promote innovation across the university among faculty, students, and staff.
    • Build the Innovation Center.
      • Facilitate an environment for collaboration and interdisciplinary innovation.
      • Link the IC to the regional and global innovation network.
    • Continue to improve the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Academies.
    • Launch the Teaching and Learning Center.
    • Develop IPRO 3.0.
  2. Establish a formal structure to support the entrepreneurial activities emerging from the IC.
    • Link all support for entrepreneurial companies through the Knapp Entrepreneurial Center.
    • Strengthen technology transfer and commercialization.
    • Increase student and faculty engagement with entrepreneurial companies in University Technology Park and the greater Chicago tech community.
  3. Enhance university processes to exemplary levels.
  4. Focus on personnel development and diversity enhancements.
    • Increase faculty, staff, and student diversity.
    • Develop and retain the best diverse workforce.

Today, three factors generally contribute to a university’s reputation among broader audiences:

  1. Ranking by various external agencies
  2. Research excellence determined by faculty scholarship metrics
  3. Marketing strategy.

We must focus on improving our university and individual program rankings, especially our undergraduate ranking in U.S. News & World Report. This report influences the choice set of many top students when they are making their enrollment decision. The marketing of both faculty scholarship in defined areas of excellence and the accomplishments of our graduates is also important as these success stories impact graduation and placement rates and act to position the university competitively.

Our strategies to elevate IIT’s visibility and rankings are as follows:

  1. Improve university rankings.
    • Develop plans to elevate individual college/school and program/discipline rankings, and ensure that the university is recognized as one of the top 100 universities in the U.S.
    • Focus on continuous improvement of retention, graduation, and placement statistics.
    • Develop our graduates to be successful globally.
    • Engage alumni and leverage their success to benefit the university.
  2. Establish and enhance specific areas of renowned academic and research excellence.
    • Develop areas of scholarship that are globally recognized.
    • Become a center for innovation and excellence in technology and the professions.
    • Increase partnerships with other universities, national laboratories, and industry.
  3. Implement a robust marketing strategy based on IIT’s strengths and achievements to improve our reputation and provide recognition of our accomplishments.
    • Recognize stellar individual and group accomplishments of faculty, students, and alumni.
    • Improve our university stature locally, globally, and nationally.
  1. Many universities face an issue with renewal of an aging infrastructure, and IIT is no exception. The infrastructure must be updated to currently acceptable building codes and continually evolving technology expectations while accepting that educational pedagogy is changing the nature of, and the student interaction in, the classroom.

    All of these drivers must be resolved in any capital allocation plan aimed at the improvement of facilities and infrastructure. This can lead to construction of new buildings (the Innovation Center), the complete renovation of existing structures (certain floors in IIT Tower), upgrading and partial renovation (Engineering 1/The John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center and the Life Sciences Building/ The Robert A. Pritzker Research Center), or the installation of needed improvements (HVAC in student housing, new roofs on Keating and Hermann Hall, artificial turf on the soccer field). The need to be disability compliant and to meet ADA standards is also important.

    Another area of focus is the development of a strategy to guide our interaction with our local environments. This must not only include the long-term plan for updating campus facilities, technology, and infrastructure, but it also must embrace our responsibility to improve our local community. Therefore, our various relationships (services, transportation, and economic development) with Bronzeville and other local neighborhoods must be nurtured and included in our plans.

    The expectation is that our facilities will enhance the educational experience of our students (many of whom are residential), increase our potential for external partnerships, enhance the ability of our faculty to teach and conduct research, allow our faculty and students to be more engaged with each other, and facilitate smooth functioning of the university.

    There are two areas of focus to enhance IIT’s facilities, infrastructure, and environments:

    1. Improve and update facilities, technology, and infrastructure.
      • Continue to improve our classrooms, research laboratories, athletic facilities, collaborative spaces, offices, and residential housing.
      • Implement and leverage technology to enhance academic, research, and business objectives.
      • Continue to upgrade all of our campus structures through strategic and continuous maintenance and renewal.
    2. Focus on improving our communities and environments.
      • Continue to improve the residential community in order to provide an extraordinary campus experience.
      • Continue to enhance the work environment to better meet the needs and expectations of our faculty and staff.
      • Increase outreach, partnerships, internships, level of community support, and the number of Chicago/Illinois initiatives.
      • Increase the involvement of current students, global alumni, the local community, and businesses in shaping the future of the university.
      • Initiate new activities on each of our campuses to increase student engagement with each other, the university, and the local and global communities.

The university has demonstrated financial discipline through achieving a balanced operating budget. Over the last four years there were no operational deficits and the budget has started to include needed capital projects. A balanced budget was achieved by revenue enhancement and strategic reallocations of resources without significant growth of expenditures.

The financial strength of the university is also directly related to growth of the student body and to the growth of the endowment. Growth of tuition income requires increased net tuition and increased numbers. Increasing the endowment requires aggressive development of philanthropic opportunities to put new money into the endowment each year, sound investment strategies, and a fixed annual draw (5 percent of 12 trailing quarters) from the liquid portion of the endowment. This is the focus of our "Fueling Innovation" campaign.

The following are key strategies to develop resources to enable progress:

  1. Achieve/exceed campaign goal of $250 million.
  2. Grow the endowment.
  3. Increase tuition revenue.
    • Increase average net tuition revenue per student.
    • Increase online revenue by at least 100 percent in five years.
    • Increase summer revenue by at least 50 percent in five years.
  4. Increase research volume and the percentage of faculty who contribute to externally funded projects.
  5. Monitor and control expenditures to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
  6. Make strategic investments that will enable university growth and progress.

IIT’s schools and colleges must improve and strengthen to be nationally and internationally competitive. They must have faculty and programs that are recognized by ranking groups, other universities, alumni, and prospective students. Such recognition can be evidenced in a number of metrics: 1) international rankings of programs (for example, the Stuart Finance Program ranks third in the United States and 26th in the world by the Financial Times); 2) national rankings (2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges ranking of IIT as a “Best Buy” university; Payscale ranking IIT among the top five schools in the Midwest for salary potential of its undergraduates); 3) faculty publications, citations, and awards; and 4) media visibility including television stories, newspaper articles, Internet/blog mentions, and YouTube/social media posts/views.

As a technology-focused university, IIT must have programs in engineering and science that are internationally recognized. We must become known as an innovative and creative leader in both research and education. Research programs must be clustered around our university focus areas; for example, engineering is the obvious leader of at least one of the major interdisciplinary areas—energy. The efforts to substantially increase our research programs in engineering and science will enhance our educational programs as our researchers are able to communicate the latest findings in their various fields to the students in their classes.

In addition to engineering and science, we need to elevate the reputation of all of our schools/colleges: applied technology, architecture, business, design, human sciences, and law. It is clear that our path to prominence must be in leveraging our strengths by focusing on collaboration-based interdisciplinary efforts.

To strengthen all of IIT’s schools and colleges, we have the following strategies:

  1. Elevate engineering to international stature.
  2. Enhance the international stature of both design and architecture.
  3. Develop another area of international prominence (in addition to finance) within Stuart.
  4. Develop additional areas of national prominence and grow areas of international recognition at Chicago-Kent, the College of Science, Lewis College of Human Sciences, and the School of Applied Technology.
  5. Develop areas of interdisciplinary strength where colleges, schools, and institutes collaborate in both education and research.