Moving Forward With Our Strategic Plan

Friday, November 21, 2014

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 (pdf) and Executive Summary (pdf).)

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.