Here’s the latest update on Strategic Optimization & Alignment Review (SOAR), one of UND’s major initiatives to help identify our university and program priorities, assist with data-driven planning, and guide strategic resource allocation to support our mission and advance the five pillars of Exceptional UND.

As has been described in previous editions of Things to Know, the Academic Task Force (consisting of faculty and department chairs), and the Support Services Task Force (comprised of staff, faculty, and academic and administrative managers), is assisted by the Coordination Committee (University Senate, Staff Senate, and UND administrative leadership), and Facilitation Team (key staff with project management, data collection, and technical skills). For a full list of members and the roles and responsibilities of each team, click here.

During the summer, the SOAR Facilitation Team and the Coordinating Committee worked to develop the primary tools for the Task Forces to use in their evaluation process. They collected data elements, configured the Prioritization Plus online data collection tool, and reviewed and adapted a list of potential survey questions. During the past few weeks, the SOAR process has continued with the preliminary identification of campus programs, development and drafting of the data collection survey, and ongoing work on the technology and software package to facilitate the process.

On October 13, the two major faculty and staff groups that will be driving this effort–the Academic and Support Services Task Forces–met with the Coordination Committee to talk about information sharing, process and outcomes, and next steps. The dialogue reflected the shared sense that core UND values–including process integrity, meaningfulness, clarity, communication, collaboration, transparency, and quality outcomes–must remain at the heart of this initiative.

At that meeting, the Coordination Committee also shared its significant recent progress in incorporating and acting upon the suggestions of Task Force members and discussed next steps. Click here for the overview presentation delivered at the meeting.

One key suggestion made at the meeting was to facilitate collaboration and transparency through more communication among the various teams, with university leadership, and with the UND community. To lead those efforts, the Coordination Committee asked Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve Light to join the SOAR team. As the “SOAR Connector,” Steve will facilitate information and strategy sharing within and among the Task Forces, assist the Coordination Committee and Facilitation Team in providing guidance and support, and work in collaboration with the Division of University and Public Affairs to manage project communication with the campus.

Communications priorities include enhancing the SOAR homepage to serve as a platform for meaningful information sharing, developing key process blueprints to set the Task Forces up for success, and developing a more clear articulation of the overall purpose and process for the initiative.

Initial homepage revisions that advance these communications priorities are complete. Click here to read the new overview of how SOAR will help us to better understand who we are as a higher education institution, who we want to be, and how it will help us become an Exceptional UND. Additional new information on the SOAR process, including the presentation made at the October 13 meeting, the overview of team roles and responsibilities, and an organization chart, is now available in the navigation box on the left-hand side of the homepage.

Please keep an eye out for more updates and opportunities to learn more by visiting the SOAR homepage. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Steve Light, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, at steven.light@und.edu.