Discovering the essence of UND
The UND community is invited to an important Town Hall event: The introduction of the draft UND Strategic Plan
In an alchemy that dates back 3,000 years, pounds of potatoes, barley or sugarcane can be transformed through boiling and condensing into ounces of pure vodka or whiskey or rum: distilled spirits.
At UND, meanwhile, an intellectual alchemy that was similar but scholarly in nature progressed over the course of this year. The process started with a call-out to the UND community and its many thousands of people, asking for their comments and suggestions. It continued with seven workgroups and some 200 participants; each workgroup crafted a statement, and the seven statements together formed a document of more than 60 pages.
Then a committee set about reading the document with care and distilling the statements’ commonalities and top concerns.
The result now is available online and will be introduced at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday. It is the Draft UND Strategic Plan, it’s all of nine pages long, and it is – well, not exactly academic firewater, the Strategic Planning Committee co-chairs said with a laugh.
But it might just be something close.
“This is a plan that’s being driven by the voices of the UND community in the broadest way possible,” said Jim Mochoruk, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of History and one of the Strategic Planning Committee co-chairs.
The process included campus surveys and 50 or more focus groups or listening sessions, plus targeted outreach to alumni and other groups. “I don’t think we can claim that every single voice is going to be reflected in the plan,” Mochoruk said.
“But every single voice has been heard. We’ve given everyone who wants to speak a chance – and there are still more chances to come.”
Lynette Krenelka, executive director of UND’s Teaching Transformation and Development Academy and co-chair along with Mochoruk of the Strategic Planning Committee, agreed. Moreover, “we’re hoping that all individuals within the broader UND community will be able to really see themselves in this plan, and understand the part they’ll be able to play in it,” Krenelka said.
“In other words, they’ll know how their own department, their own unit and even they themselves can make a difference in and help advance the plan. So I think it’s going to be a plan that many more people will be able to identify with.”
A charge from the president
UND’s strategic planning process began in February, when UND President Andy Armacost tapped Krenelka and Mochoruk to chair the committee.
“The strategic plan must reflect great aspiration while focusing on excellence in education and research, building a sense of community both on and off campus and creating a sense of creativity and innovation across all of UND,” Armacost said at a Feb. 17 plan launch event.
As noted above, an information-gathering phase followed, one that featured Town Halls, surveys, focus groups, meetings with UND faculty, staff, students, alumni and the local community, and other events. Then came the summerlong effort of the seven strategic-planning workgroups. They focused on broad themes such as Creativity, Discovery & Innovation, Collaboration & Engagement, Fostering Equity & Inclusive Excellence, Student Success Through Academic Excellence, Student Success Beyond the Classroom, Valuing and Supporting UND Employees, and UND Community: Climate & Culture.
The Strategic Planning Committee members in general, and a smaller “Committee of the Willing” in particular, have worked hard since August to find, highlight and bring together the workgroups’ core findings.
And this week, the campus community is invited to a Town Hall meeting that will introduce the campus community to the new draft of the UND Strategic Plan. The Town Hall meeting will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Small Ballroom of the Memorial Union and via Zoom. (Those who’d like to attend virtually are asked to please register for webinar access here.)
In addition, a survey will be available immediately following the presentation, for feedback. The survey window will close on Oct. 20, one week after the Town Hall.
Then the Strategic Planning Committee, the workgroup co-captains and many others will work to incorporate the survey’s suggestions and other feedback into the plan, with the goal of delivering a final draft to President Armacost in December.
The draft Strategic Plan starts with a boldfaced description of the University’s Mission, Vision and Shared Values. That Mission is “to provide exceptional educational experiences that enrich the lives of North Dakotans and the global community through excellent teaching, innovative research and meaningful engagement,” guided by a Vision that strives “to inspire a sense of wonder, a love of discovery and a commitment to serve.”
Meanwhile, “our work along the way will be guided by our deep belief in UND’s Shared Values of Learning, Equity, Accountability, Discovery and Service,” the draft continues.
Take the first letters of those Shared Values, and you’ve got UND Leads – the title of the draft Strategic Plan.
After that introduction, the document looks in detail at the five foundational pillars that make up the core elements of the plan. These include the Vision elements of Sense of Wonder, Love of Discovery and Commitment to Serve, plus two other pillars which, as Krenelka and Mochoruk note, strongly support the first three: Inclusive Excellence and Equity, and A Culture of Belonging.
Under each of the five headings, the plan lays out the ways in which “UND Will Lead” in those areas. The format lists not only ambitious goals that UND can aspire to, but also specific tasks that can be tracked and monitored to gauge the University’s progress.
The plan’s final draft also is likely to include real-life examples of UND programs that capture some of the plan’s key components, Krenelka said. “That way, we can highlight what’s happening on our campus and really tell the story of UND’s strengths,” she said.
Furthermore, new stories will be added over time, as UND students, faculty, staff and graduates find new ways of fulfilling the plan’s goals. “That promises to be a unique and especially valuable element of the UND Strategic Plan,” she said.
A living and breathing plan
Added Mochoruk, “while the plan is still in draft form, already there are aspects of it – such as the one that Lynette highlighted – that our committee is very proud of.
“To take another example, I love the fact that thanks to our workgroups and other contributors, we’ve been able to focus so strongly on key elements such as Service, Discovery and Belonging. Also, the fact that this is going to be a living, breathing and developing plan – not just a static plan – is really exciting to us.”
For more information and to offer feedback on the draft UND Strategic Plan, please attend or watch the Town Hall on Thursday, then offer your comments through the Qualtrics survey that will be open through Oct. 20.
Here again is the link through which readers can access the draft Strategic Plan. And as both Krenelka and Mochoruk said in conclusion, “Thank you!”