Strategic Planning Update

Thursday, February 12, 2015

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.

UMN Minneapolis

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.