University of Minnesota Duluth
 
 
myUMD | Search | People | Departments | Events | News

 Strategic Planning

Campus Goals

| 8 Comments

Comment on campus goals here.

8 Comments

All-in-all I'm pleased with the six campus goals as currently stated. That said, I do think a few of them would benefit from some word-smithing, particularly:
#1: "To promote..." seems a little soft to me. I prefer "to foster," but even that might not be active enough. The bigger question for me is whether "promoting" student learning "experiences" is different than "promoting" student learning. For example, if participating in study abroad is a learning experience rather than simply learning, then we need the word "experience." But, if student learning experiences are the same as learning, then we don't need the extra word. #1 is trying to say a lot and it is hard to do without repeating yourself. Maybe it is trying to say too much.
#4: I'm not sure what it means to "leverage our region's unique...human resources."

The goals strike me as a bit vague, and seem in some respects to simply re-state the mission, vision and core values statements. Of course goals should be informed by those, but it all starts to feel a bit circular.

I would think goals should start to be more specific, and should also be things that can be measured and quantified (to determine if they have been met or not in the not too distant future). What comes next of course are the action items to define how to meet the goals, but if the goals are as vague as they are it seems very hard to come up with action items to meet them.

That said, a few observations on the goals as stated...

I agree that in goal 1 "promote" is a bit weak. Maybe "engage in"? That said. goal 1 is massive, and is really more or less equivalent to the mission statement, so I think it needs to be pared down or split apart. If global engagement really matters, for example, maybe that should be its own goal? And yes, I know there are only to be 5-7 goals so some choices need to be made about what really matters.

In goal 4, "advance UMD's stature" sounds a bit like PR work, rather than actually improving the quality of research and creative activity (which I assume was the intent). Given that I'm not sure goal 4 doesn't really seem to add much to goals 1 and 3, as best I can tell. But that might reflect on the fact that goals 1 and 3 are both overly general too.

Goal 6 seems like it should also include the surrounding community. UMD has a huge footprint, and decisions we make should not only be sustainable for the campus, but also sustainable for the surrounding community as well.

But, overall, I'd rather see these goals trying to be more specific, because as it stands the task of creating specific action items to meet these rather general goals in a meaningful way seems almost impossible.

In goal #1, lifelong learning, global perspectives, personal and professional success, are all encompassed by our institutional learning goals. Why not say: To promote institutional learning goals of knowledge, thinking, self-realization, relationships, social responsibility, and life skills, in a learner-centered environment.

The goals themselves are pretty good, but the order is strange. Goals 1, 3, and 4 relate to the primary mission of the University: undergraduate education, graduate studies, and research/creative activity. Current goal 2, important as it is, should be listed fourth.

I echo the same feedback I offered regarding the vision statement - to overlook an effective enrollment management plan could put us in a place where we are challenged to meet any of our goals. Enrollment management provides a holistic framework from which we can successfully shepherd students from application to graduation and beyond. Being sensitive to the needs of our students and their families will be critical over the next decade as we strive to improve the learning outcomes for our students. Without a strong and intentional focus on both professional and peer academic advising our students will struggle, regardless of the quality of our academic courses, co-curricular programs, or sustainable facilities. Effectively leveraging financial aid and awards against increasing tuition and decreasing state support may be one of the more onerous challenges we face. Providing the necessary support structure for a changing student demographic will not come easily or by accident. Many other suggestions can be made to improve the student experience such as cross-listing courses, providing a true residential setting for our on-campus students, or rewarding faculty and staff for serving as advisers to student organizations. All of this falls under enrollment management - it is not merely the role of our talented Admissions colleagues.

I am sure that there will be wordsmithing on the individual goals, but I endorse the language and concepts that the goals express. As any changes are made, I encourage the executive team to keep the prominence of undergraduate student learning and of inclusion/social justice at the top of the list. I know that the goals are not rank-ordered, but our colleagues, students and the public will form their vision of us based on what they read at the beginning. Leading with these key priorities is vital.

I think each of these goals is an important part of what UMD needs to do; in keeping with the mission statement, specifically with respect to the land and sea-grant university stature, the role of outreach needs to be strong. Goal 5 relates most directly to this, and states currently:

Goal 5: To strengthen ties with Duluth and surrounding communities in an intentional, visible, and mutually beneficial partnership.

I think UMD has, and should seek to maintain and expand, ties with statewide and specifically great lakes regional communities, industries, and user groups. While I agree our value to Duluth should be unparalleled, our value does, and should, expand well beyond "surrounding communities."
The transfer of knowledge from UMD to communities, businesses, and groups is a critical component, but the reverse is also important, the transfer of needs, constraints, and priorities from these groups back to the university; effective outreach and engagement does that through establishing relationships. I’m wondering if this goal could be strengthened a bit to pull in a broader regional component, but also the outreach and engagement part more cogently? Wordsmithing’s not my strength, but here’s a modest attempt:
To strengthen (ties) relationships with Duluth and (surrounding) regional communities in an intentional, visible, and mutually beneficial partnership

I really do appreciate that putting together all these statements is difficult and time consuming work, and it's not an easy task to condense a lot of points of view. So, let me add a few thoughts to this process in the hopes of being at least mildly useful.

The jargon in Goal 1 has become very noticeable as of the April 4 version - I really don't know what "intentional" means, and I'm a little shaky on co-curricular and living-learning experiences. It seems impossible to really pursue a goal if it's not widely understood, and it also seems important that our goals be understood by any/most citizens of the state who choose to review them.

Goal 1 has also become explicitly circular - the goal is (in part) to pursue the learning goals of UMD. I don't think you can meaningfully have a goal that is simply to pursue another goal. Also, to be understandable I think statements like this need to be self-contained, and so someone who reads this goal as it is now must then search around for the learning goals in order to grasp the goal. I think an overall statement of campus goals should give a concise overview of these kinds of things (if they are to be included) that can stand alone. If someone doesn't want more detail than that, they need not look any further.

Finally, Goal 1 and goal 3 are clearly where we address undergraduate and graduate education. Goal 1 makes many points, whereas goal 3 simply talks about excellence in graduate education. I'm not sure either of these really work as goals, but the fact that they are so differently specified looks a little odd when taken as a unit. Goal 1 is presumably concerned with excellence in undergraduate education, and is trying to specify what that means (subject to the limitations mentioned above) while goal 3 doesn't really say what it means to be excellent in graduate education. It seems like the goals would work a bit better overall if goals 1 and 3 were a bit more consistent in their formulation.


Leave a comment