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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Strategic Planning Update

From Provost Hanson 


I write with an update on the task of implementing the new strategic plan for the Twin Cities campus.

In recent weeks, senior leaders, deans, and others have focused on integrating strategic goals into annual planning and budgeting processes and on identifying ways in which our various colleges and campus units can help bring the strategic vision to life. We are laying the groundwork for progress in each of the four goal areas:
  • creating an invigorated campus culture of ambition, challenge, exploration, and innovation;
  • leveraging our breadth and depth, building on our strengths so that our faculty, staff, and students can successfully address the grand challenges of our state, nation, and world;
  • recruiting, retaining, and promoting field-shaping researchers and teachers;
  • capitalizing on our location and our reach to expand campus-community partnerships and to create new 21st-century learning and career pathways for our students.

Moving Ahead: Curriculum and Other Areas

While the process of large-scale change in the campus curriculum must be a deliberative one, we are moving on some of the recommendations for curricular “quick wins” delineated in the strategic plan. Working with the college and school deans, the Office for Undergraduate Education has established principles for new team-taught courses on grand challenge topics. Those principles will guide the solicitation of course proposals this month, and these new courses will begin to be available to undergraduates in fall 2015.

The basic approach is an adaptation of one that has been successfully employed in the University Honors Program—and these new courses, interesting on their own, will also serve as pilots and models for future transdisciplinary curricular efforts. These new grand challenge courses will be taught by faculty from different units, and all types of partnerships will be encouraged, including those between undergraduate and graduate and/or professional colleges.

Early attention is also being given to the development of grand-challenges minors, and to other experiments in this vein, including development of a series of one-credit courses that might, across a student’s entire degree program in any major, add perspective and expertise on a specific grand challenge.

We are attending as well to the important process of connecting various units’ strategic plans with the larger campus plan. This is central to the compact and budget processes, and it is a key task for the central administrative offices. So, for example, the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and the Office of Human Resources are launching new programs of mentoring and training for department heads and other leaders, as proposed in the strategic plan, and the Office of the Vice President for Research is helping to align the systemwide Five Years Forward research strategic plan with the research strategic goals of the Twin Cities campus plan.

In addition, I will very shortly convene a Provost’s Grand Challenges Strategies Group to shape grand-challenges research priorities and identify interdisciplinary areas of inquiry where we are well positioned to be national and international leaders.

Strategic Planning Continuity Team

The Strategic Planning Continuity Team met last month with Dean Mary Nichols and me to advise on implementation issues and priorities. Composed of members of the original strategic planning workgroup and issue teams, the Continuity Team provided helpful feedback on work to date and highlighted challenges and opportunities for communications and campus engagement. The members of the Strategic Planning Continuity Team are:
  • Neil Anderson, Program Director, Extension
  • Heidi Barajas, Associate Professor, Education; Executive Director, Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center
  • Renee Cheng, Professor, Architecture; Associate Dean for Research, College of Design
  • William Durfee, Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Carl Flink, Associate Professor, Theatre Arts and Dance
  • Rhonda Franklin, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Timothy Kehoe, Professor, Economics
  • Reuben Harris, Professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics
  • Christy Haynes, Professor, Chemistry
  • Elizabeth Lightfoot, Professor and Doctoral Program Director, Social Work
  • William O’Neill, Associate Director, Facilities Management
  • Katey Pelican, Associate Professor, Veterinary Population Medicine
  • Rebecca Ropers-Huilman, Professor and Chair, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development; Chair, Faculty Consultative Committee
  • Valerie Tiberius, Professor and Chair, Philosophy
  • Jakub Tolar, Professor, Medical School
  • Christopher Uggen, Distinguished McKnight Professor, Sociology; Vice Chair, Faculty Consultative Committee

I thank all of these individuals—and thank all of you for your continued engagement as we move forward together.

This update, in modified format, was emailed by Provost Hanson on Feb. 12 to Twin Cities faculty and staff.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Moving Forward With Our Strategic Plan

Update from Provost Hanson 


I write to update you on steps we are taking to begin implementation of the new strategic plan for the Twin Cities campus.

As you know, the plan is intended to guide our campus over the next decade. In the few weeks that have passed since the plan was formally approved by the Regents, we have laid the groundwork for implementation efforts that we hope will be as thoughtful and collaborative as the work that shaped the plan.

First, I am happy to inform you that Dr. Mary L. Nichols has agreed to assist me in providing leadership and coordination for implementation efforts. Mary brings to this role valuable expertise as a professor of strategic management in the Carlson School of Management. She also brings strong academic leadership experience, including guiding two colleges through periods of great change, as dean of the College of Continuing Education since 2001 and, previously, as associate dean for academic programs, for seven years, in the Carlson School of Management.

Mary has been a highly engaged campus leader, and she knows the University extremely well. In assuming her new role as special assistant to the provost, she will balance strategic planning responsibilities with her ongoing role as CCE dean. I look forward to working closely with her as the campus moves to implement the new plan.

We all do have much work ahead of us. Our vision is that we will marshal the strengths and resources of our campus to be preeminent in addressing “grand challenges”—the most critical and complex challenges of our diverse and changing state and world. The full vision statement articulates the aspirations that shape our mission. (You can also review the entire Final Strategic Planning Report and Executive Summary.)

Our supporting goals commit us to draw on our exceptional breadth and our unique location in order to build new collaborations across disciplines; to deepen our campus-community partnerships; to be a magnet for field-shaping researchers and teachers; and to create 21st-century learning experiences to prepare our students for life, work, and global citizenship.

Implementation Groundwork

Important implementation groundwork is already under way. Academic and support units have been asked to connect their annual unit planning, including budget planning, with the goals of the strategic plan. I have in addition asked all the deans to suggest appropriate faculty to work on defining and selecting grand challenge priorities for our university. (I expect those faculty will then issue a broader call for proposals to the entire campus.) We are also in the process of forming a continuity team of faculty, staff, and students to shape implementation priorities and develop benchmarks for success.

As we have begun sharing the plan with external stakeholders, we have found that our “grand challenges” vision readily captures the public imagination. In embracing this vision, we must also focus internally on achieving the plan’s broader goals of institutional transformation. Our aim is to build a stronger, more nimble, better integrated, and deeply engaged research university, one in which focused disciplinary work flourishes alongside boundary-breaking collaborations.

I will continue to update you regularly on this important campuswide effort. Please watch for new opportunities to contribute to this effort as we move forward together.

This update, in modified format, was emailed by Provost Hanson on Nov. 21 to Twin Cities faculty and staff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Implementing Our Plan: Next Steps

Update from Provost Hanson 


I am pleased to report that, last Friday, the Board of Regents unanimously approved the new strategic plan for the Twin Cities campus.

The plan calls for the University to move with new energy and imagination to address the most critical and complex challenges of our state and global communities. We are committed to drawing on our exceptional breadth and our unique location in order to build new collaborations across disciplines; to deepen our campus-community partnerships; to be a magnet for field-shaping researchers and teachers; and to create 21st-century learning experiences to prepare our students for life, work, and global citizenship.

More fundamentally, the plan calls on us to build on our existing strengths, to embrace excellence and reject complacency - and to support an invigorated campus culture of pride, ambition, and innovation.
View Final Strategic Planning Report
View Executive Summary  
View Video of Board of Regents Discussion (segment starts 12:35)

The final plan incorporates comments made by the Board and the campus community on September's penultimate draft. Responses were highly positive overall, and I thank all of you who took the time to offer your constructive comments.

We drew on your suggestions to clarify or underscore some key points - including the importance of disciplinary strengths, even for interdisciplinary efforts; the centrality of global engagement for our 21st-century mission; the way in which our commitment to access, equity, and diversity is critical to our strategic vision and to every aspect of our core activities; how crucial it is that our University be a good place for faculty and staff alike to build careers where they can do their best work; and the importance of the health sciences among our academic priorities.

The final plan more clearly asserts that the three Grand Challenges topics sketched out in the research section are examples of strong transdisciplinary work that is already under way. As in earlier drafts, the final version recommends a set of criteria for the evaluation and selection of a full slate of grand challenges that we will embrace as institutional priorities.

Next Steps

A collaborative process for selection of grand challenges will be among the first implementation priorities. The strategic planning framework is already being integrated into the normal processes of academic planning, including compact and budget processes for academic and administrative units. The goals of the plan will be connected in a variety of ways with those of academic and administrative units and the system campuses. Additional "next steps" are outlined in the full report (pdf).

I will keep you informed about implementation steps and how faculty, students, and staff can continue to engage in the process. We intend for this plan to be a dynamic one that is advanced collaboratively. We will rely on you - faculty, students, and staff - to help refine the plan, set meaningful benchmarks to track our success, and ensure that the plan remains a good roadmap for achieving shared aspirations and goals.

I want to thank again the members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup, who capably stewarded the planning process, as well as the five extended teams of faculty, students, and staff who helped map issues and action steps. Their diverse voices, thoughtful perspectives, invigorating discussion, and exceptional diligence shaped a bold and achievable plan that draws on our fundamental land-grant mission and will position us well for an exciting future.

This update, in modified format, was emailed by Provost Hanson on Oct. 15 to Twin Cities faculty and staff.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Strategic Plan Approved by Board of Regents

The new Strategic Plan for the Twin Cities campus was unanimously approved today by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

View Final Strategic Planning Report 
View Executive Summary  
View Video of Board of Regents Discussion (segment starts 12:35)


The plan was presented to the board by President Kaler and Provost Hanson as the culmination of many months of discussion and planning by the campus community, stewarded by the Strategic Planning Workgroup and five collaborative teams of faculty, staff, and students.

In remarks to the board, the provost stressed that the plan "presents a vision for building on our defining strengths to reinvent our land-grant research university at a time of great change, challenge, and opportunity."

The Strategic Plan will build on signal strengths and opportunities of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities as one of the country's most comprehensive research universities, fortunately situated in a complex and vibrant metropolitan area and guided by a durable land-grant mission.

The plan aims to:
  • combine University strengths more broadly and deeply to address "grand challenges"—the most pressing and complex problems facing the state, nation, and world;
  • support excellence and reject complacency; build an invigorated campus culture of pride, ambition, and innovation;
  • create a "University of Transformational Opportunity" where there is flexibility accompanied by responsibility and accountability and where field shapers can do their best work; 
  • build a culture of mutual engagement and create more partnerships between the University and our community, business, government, and nonprofit stakeholders across Minnesota and beyond; and
  • create new 21st-century learning and career pathways for students; develop curricular and cocurricular opportunities that will be attractive to Minnesota's most ambitious, talented, and motivated students--indeed, attractive to the nation's and the world's most talented students. 

Final report informed by campus feedback

A draft report was reviewed by the Board last month. The final report incorporates feedback received from the Board and campus community between that time and today.

The provost noted that responses to the plan were mostly extremely positive. "A number of responses offered thoughtful, constructive suggestions about aspects or details that needed to be clarified or underscored."

Examples included the need to emphasize the importance of disciplinary strengths as key to interdisciplinary opportunities; global engagement as implicit to our 21st-century mission; access, equity, and diversity as critical to our strategic vision and every aspect of our core activities; ensuring that our University is a good place for faculty and staff alike to build careers and to pursue excellence; and the importance of the health sciences among our academic priorities.

Selecting Grand Challenges, implementing the plan

The final plan also underscores that the three Grand Challenges topics sketched out in the plan are three examples of strong transdisciplinary work addressing grand challenges that is already under way at the University of Minnesota. The plan recommends a set of criteria for the evaluation and selection of the next grand challenges that will be embraced as institutional priorities. A process for selection will be developed in the implementation phase of the plan.

Implementation will also be effected through attention to the Strategic Plan in the normal processes of academic planning. This will start immediately with compact and budget processes. The goals of the plan will be connected in a variety of ways with those of academic and administrative units and the system campuses.

Also launching this fall will be continuity and implementation teams to shape next steps and develop benchmarks. Campuswide engagement and communication processes also will begin this fall.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Comments Invited on Strategic Plan for TC Campus

Update from Provost Hanson 


Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to share with you a draft of the completed Strategic Plan for the Twin Cities campus, and to invite your comments.

The plan, shaped by faculty, staff, and students over the past year, charts a course for the next decade, building directly on our university's unique strengths and opportunities. It aims to reinvigorate our institution as a 21st-century land-grant research university of ambition, innovation, and impact. It will create new learning and career pathways for students, build and retain a faculty of field-shaping researchers and teachers, expand campus-community partnerships, and combine university strengths more broadly and deeply to address "Grand Challenges"— the most pressing and complex problems facing the state, nation, and world.

Learn more—and share your comments

I invite you to learn more about the plan and the planning process on this blog—and to share your thoughts and suggestions during a comment period that extends through September 25. President Kaler and I presented the plan to the Board of Regents last week, with the help of some of our issue team co-chairs. The Board's reaction to this draft was very favorable, but your comments can still help inform the final version, which will be presented for Board action in October.

I thank all of you who have filled out surveys, participated in campus forums, or followed the progress of the planning effort online. We all also owe special thanks to the 30 members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup, who worked with great dedication and imagination over many months to envision a dynamic path for our great university. And thanks, too, to the nearly 200 individuals who brought their diverse voices and perspectives to the issue teams.

Your engagement has made this process as inclusive and collaborative as we had hoped and has resulted in a plan that is exciting and full of promise. I look forward to robust conversation as we refine the plan and begin work on implementation.

Sincerely,

Karen Hanson
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

This update, in modified format, was emailed by Provost Hanson on Sept. 16 to Twin Cities faculty and staff.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Strategic Plan Presented to Board of Regents

Draft report online | Comments invited through Sept. 25


President Kaler, Provost Hanson, and members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup shared with the Board of Regents today the draft of the Strategic Plan for the Twin Cities campus.

"What you're about to hear is a roadmap for reinvigorating the University of Minnesota," the president said in introducing a presentation of the plan by Provost Hanson and members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup.

The plan articulates a vision and priorities for the next decade that build on the campus’ exceptional strengths and opportunities as one of the country’s most comprehensive research universities and one of the few located in a large metropolitan area.

It aims to create new 21st-century learning and career pathways for students, build more campus-community partnerships, and combine University strengths more broadly and deeply to address “grand challenges”—the most pressing and complex problems facing the state, nation, and world.

The plan calls on the University to:
  • Leverage its breadth and depth to take on society’s grand challenges through more cross-cutting research, creative scholarship, and curriculum; 
  • Support excellence and reject complacency by changing practices to create an invigorated campus culture of ambition, challenge, exploration, and innovation; 
  • Aggressively recruit, retain and promote diverse field-shaping researchers and teachers; and 
  • Build a culture of mutual engagement between the University and many partners and stakeholders that capitalizes on the U’s dynamic metropolitan location. 

Comment period—and online copy of report

Faculty, staff, students, and external stakeholders have provided input through listening sessions--and are invited to comment on the completed draft between September 15 and 25.)


Comments will inform the final version to be presented for Board action in October. Once the plan is approved, it will be a framework for decisionmaking by the provost and deans, with implementation plans to be launched this fall.

To jump-start institutional transformation, three initial grand challenge areas have been identified that harness robust university expertise across many fields of knowledge, from the core disciplines of the liberal arts to the new frontiers of the biosciences:
  • Ensuring sustainable, healthy, secure food; 
  • Advancing industry while conserving the environment and addressing climate change; and
  • Building vibrant communities that enhance human potential and collective well-being in a diverse and changing society.
Six members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup joined the provost to discuss the goals and strategies developed by extended teams of faculty, students, and staff over the past year: professors Jakub Tolar, Joe Konstan, Renee Cheng, Liz Lightfoot, and Tim Kehoe; and graduate student Meghan Mason.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Campus Conversation Followup, with Links

President Kaler, Provost Hanson and members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup shared details about the newly drafted Strategic Plan and answered questions at a Campus Conversation September 3. About 350 people joined the discussion in person or online.

View a copy of the printed handout from the conversation: 

View archived video of the conversation: 

The Strategic Planning Workgroup members helping to lead the discussion were professors Christopher Uggen, Joe Konstan, Renee Cheng, Liz Lightfoot, and Tim Kehoe.

Feedback continues to be invited on the plan, which will be reviewed by the Board of Regents September 12. Following review by the Regents, an open comment period will take place September 15-25. Comments received will inform the final strategic planning report, which the president and provost will present to the Regents for approval on October 10.