To the Campus Community

As we welcome the arrival of a new academic year, we wanted to provide you with an update on activities that have taken place over the summer to advance the Strategic Optimization and Alignment Review (SOAR) process, as well as on the plans moving forward.  We appreciate the vital role that everyone has played in the SOAR effort, and we look forward to sharing their progress as we embark on a very busy schedule this fall.

Progress Over the Summer

Since May, the Facilitation Team and the Coordinating Committee have worked on developing the primary tools the Task Forces will use in their evaluation process. Here are some of their key activities:

  • The Facilitation Team collected data elements (such as student credit hours, course enrollments, number of majors, minors and certificates) derived from criteria established by the Task Forces. These are related to the initial list of Academic Programs and Support Services.
  • Prioritization Plus, the online tool where data will be collected, reviewed and stored, was configured.
  • The Task Forces previously approved criteria that will be used in the SOAR evaluation process, and they generated corresponding survey questions that will be used as part of the evaluation methodology.  During the last month, the Facilitation Team reviewed the questions submitted by the Task Forces and adapted them to be consistent with a template borrowed from another institution that is successfully working with Program and Support Service Prioritization (The University of Minnesota-Duluth).  During the fall, the Task Forces will develop a corresponding rubric to be used as an evaluation (scoring) instrument.
  • The Vice Presidents and Academic Deans have been asked to review and provide input on the lists of Academic Program and Support Services by September 5. Their review of corresponding survey questions will be due by September 26.

Timeline for Next Steps

As the SOAR process moves forward, we anticipate it will follow a six-step model:

  1. List and Question Review – By September 5, the Facilitation Team will schedule meetings with each Vice President and Academic Dean to review for completeness the lists of Academic Programs and Support Services; By Sept. 26, the Vice Presidents and Academic Deans will also assess the corresponding questions.
  2. Pilot Programs/Services Selection – By September 12, the Coordinating Committee will ask each Vice President and Dean to suggest at least one Academic Program or Support Service to be considered for the pilot evaluation program, which will help determine the effectiveness of the process and questions.
  3. Task Force Meetings Begin – Between September 5 and October 3, the Task Forces will begin organized meetings to establish their evaluation and voting methodologies, and members will apply those to the chosen pilot Academic Programs and Support Services.
  4. Survey Completion – From October 6 to November 17, surveys for each identified Academic Program and Support Service will be completed using the online tool, Prioritization Plus.
  5. Review and Approval of Surveys – Between October 7 and December 1, using Prioritization Plus, Vice Presidents and Deans will review and approve submitted surveys for Academic Programs and Support Services.
  6. Ongoing Task Force Work – Task Forces will continue their evaluations of Academic Programs and Support Services from October 8 until the work is completed.

Below is an easy-to-reference infographic of this six-step process.


Click on this diagram, to be directed to a full-size, printable version of this chart.

Additional background on the SOAR process, including slides from the public presentation held on May 9, is available at

We will continue to communicate regularly as these steps progress.  Please feel free to reach Vice Provost Josh Riedy with any questions regarding the SOAR process, or contact your Academic Dean or Vice President.