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Dean's Column (February 17, 2011)

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Dear Colleagues,

As the University enters the next phase of its strategic planning process, University leadership has asked all colleges to develop their plan for academic priorities and cost efficiencies for the next 3-5 years. Colleges were encouraged to engage stakeholders, faculty, staff and students through Blue Ribbon Committees prior to completing strategic plans. Because Extension has several existing advisory and consultative committees, Extension leadership held listening sessions with each of these committees to accomplish this important task.

In January, Extension leadership hosted Blue Ribbon listening sessions with its five internal and external advisory committees: Citizen's Advisory Committee, Association of Minnesota Counties - Extension Committee, Extension Faculty Consultative Committee, Extension Civil Service Consultative Committee, and the Minnesota Association of Extension Educators.

The Extension listening sessions were designed for participants to provide input and recommendations on pride and potential, opportunities and challenges, and four critical success factors: sustainable funding, audiences and partners, documenting significance and communicating value, and the Extension workforce. Comments from the listening sessions were captured in a Blue Ribbon Listening Session report that is now available on the intranet for employees to review. In addition, I invite you to share your ideas. An online form is available for you to reply to each of the Blue Ribbon discussion questions. Please respond by February 28. Responses will be included in the final report and Extension's executive committee will use the information to inform the next phase of Extension's strategic planning, which will be completed by July 1, 2011.

Yesterday, I met with the Extension Leadership Council (program leaders, regional directors and Extension deans) to discuss the current budget realities as well as our Blue Ribbon and strategic planning process. During the coming months, our state, federal and county funders will be discussing and eventually making decisions that will impact Extension's funding. We will continue to work closely with them to influence those decisions while preparing for multiple funding scenarios. In the meantime, we will prepare our compact for a March review with University leadership and in April we will hold a strategic planning work session with the Extension Leadership Council.

I will continue to keep you informed. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the Blue Ribbon Listening Session Report and share your ideas.

Bev Durgan

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