Over the last few weeks, we have announced some changes in Extension regional leadership and operations. My September 1 enews column communicated that Extension's field operations are being redesigned to meet statewide program needs while using fewer administrative positions and resources. And, earlier this week, I sent an email announcing the closing of two regional offices, Hutchinson and Fergus Falls, at the end of the year.
These decisions, while not easy to make, support a strong statewide Extension system, reducing administrative and operating costs without reducing research and education positions. As I have mentioned many times, Extension administration is committed to keeping operating and administrative costs as low as possible in order to fund faculty and staff positions and the research and educational programs that make a difference in Minnesota. Director of field operations, Lee Raeth, and program leaders are working closely with educators located in the Hutchinson and Fergus Falls offices to relocate them to other regional offices by the end of the year.
The changes in regional operations are closely aligned with the goals and strategies outlined in the Extension Strategic Plan. The plan calls for greater integration of our systems and programs across Extension to enable us to respond quickly and appropriately while building a vital and sustainable "One Extension" organization for the future. I encourage you to read the Strategic Plan and take time to share your responses to the questions on the intranet. Comments collected by September 23 will be compiled and shared in October.
Just as I have asked all employees to review and discuss the opportunities and implications in the Strategic Plan, the leadership team is also having those discussions. Next week, I will be meeting with the center associate deans to discuss program priorities in each center and how these priorities align across Extension. You can expect to hear more from me and the center associate deans in the coming months as we work together to implement the strategies outlined in the plan.