STEM & UNI's Vision, Mission, Core Values

UNI Vision Statement


Offering personalized attention to students, the University of Northern Iowa will be a diverse and inclusive campus community that provides an engaged education empowering students to lead locally and globally.


UNI Mission Statement


Within a challenging and supportive environment, the University of Northern Iowa engages students in high-quality and high-impact learning experiences and emphasizes excellence in teaching and scholarship.


The UNI STEM Office support the Vision and Mission of the University of Northern Iowa by engaging UNI students, faculty, staff, and partners in STEM campus programs, by promoting the high quality STEM Education and innovative STEM Research at UNI, and by supporting faculty and student outreach for K-12 students and educators.

UNI Core Values

  • Academic Freedom - Sarah Huebner, UNI STEM Ambassador and Senior Ecology and Evolution Major says that her STEM courses are an example of UNI’s commitment to Academic Freedom. Sarah says, “My biology professors teach us to question authority and never take someone’s word for it. They strongly endorse the concept that science is a way of thinking and viewing the world… The biology professors can often be spotted “in the wild”, happily arguing amongst themselves and challenging each other.” UNI’s Undergraduate Student Research programs are another example of Academic Freedom. Undergraduate Researchers at UNI are not relegated to serve as data collectors for others, rather they pose, design, carry out and present their own investigations. 

    For Early Childhood and Math Education Major Britney Bockstahler, being offered her choice of final projects in her required geometry course is an example of academic freedom. “While the professor was unsure I could demonstrate a strong understanding of course content through my proposed topic, the genomic foundations established through block building, she gave me the freedom to try. In the end, the professor was surprised by my findings.” The project led to an invitation for Britney to present at the state mathematics education conference. “[It] enabled me to explore unique content relevant to me specific field and interests and broaden my experiences as a student and future teacher.”


  • Access - To UNI Freshman Baily Abbott his coursework in Industrial Technology and Engineering Education provide him with an all access pass to technology, machinery, and faculty. Baily says his professors are always willing to talk, during their reasonable office hours and in the lounge between classes. Courses are hands-on with open labs. Tuition is reasonable and connections to off campus businesses and through clubs provide real-world experiences that exemplify an all access educational experience.


  • Accountability - STEM Curricula developed at UNI is research based and UNI Teacher Professional Development opportunities include formative and summative program evaluation, insuring that UNI continues to be known as Iowa’s premier education institution.


  • Collaboration -


  • Community - Monthly Faculty and Staff STEM Chats build community for STEM across campus and provide a rare opportunity for faculty to participate in campus wide collegial conversations. STEM Ambassadors represent their own major departments and UNI while supporting the success of campus K-12 STEM outreach. The STEM Ambassadors extend UNI’s STEM community to all UNI Students by participating in campus wide events like the Rob Library RodCon and Spotlight on STEM Day.


  • Diversity - UNI’s role in Iowa’s NSF EPSCoR Project is to increase access for women and other underrepresented groups to STEM. Events like STEM Summer Camps & Expanding Your Horizons Conference open doors for tomorrow’s STEM workforce.


  • Engagement - STEM Ambassador Emily Pei says that the UNI Textiles and Apparel Program (TAPP) has prepared her to be an engaging member of her industry. She has learned how textiles and apparel industry standards are used to insure development of quality and legal materials for customer’s end use. TAPP is preparing Emily and her fellow students for careers in this global industry where safety and ethical considerations are as important as the mathematics and science. For Allie Wold it is her experience in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) that stands out as an example of challenge and transformation. Allie, a Chemistry and Biochemistry Major, completed research with Dr. Cherney through SURP in the summers of 2013 and 2014. The undergraduate research experience resulted in two national conference presentation opportunities, providing her an opportunity to develop presentation skills and network with potential future colleagues. The UNI experience has prepared both Emily and Allison to enter their careers are competent engaged professionals.

    Environmental Geography major Kara Poppe’s UNI experience has brought transformation and learning in a global society. “Through experiences with the Honors Program, eco-related field trips, and international travel, I have continually been challenged to re-think my belief systems. These experiences have allowed me to expose myself and others to global ideas… placing ourselves in new environments we can learn more about ourselves and the world.”


  • Excellence - Jordan Wilmes is a UNI Biology Teaching Major and STEM Ambassador. Jordon says that excellence at UNI is “faculty and staff who care as much about your success outside the classroom as in.” Service learning opportunities help students grow professionally and gain real-world skills while giving back to the Cedar Valley community.


  • Sustainability - Fabulous Resources for Energy Education (F.R.E.E.), the Tallgrass Prairie Center, and Panther Plots are a few examples of how STEM and sustainability come together to at UNI. The FREE provides educators with vetted energy educational resources with accompanying low cost kits for classroom use. Iowa is the most changed landscape in the world. We’ve lost more than 99.9% of our native prairies, yet the Iowa Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Program and other projects and research of the Tallgrass Prairie Center are insuring a future for the tallgrass prairie. Panther Plots is a partnership between Department of Residence, Office of Sustainability, Center for Energy and Environmental Education, Facilities Services and First-year Cornerstone to provide local food for the UNI dinning centers and local farmer’s market and give UNI students experience with horticulture, food science and marketing. All across campus science, mathematics, technology and engineering are coming together to improve the lives of students, faculty and staff and better prepare UNI graduates to become responsible citizens.