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Strategic plan recalibration under way; wide input sought in revision of 2007 document

A group of almost 90 faculty, staff, students, community members and University administrators have started work on recalibrating the 2007 “Directions” strategic plan document.

Dr. Jamie Barlowe, professor and chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and co-convener of the newly formed strategic plan committee, said looking at the University’s strategic plan again needs to happen now because so much has changed since the 2007 document.

“We are no longer going through a merger, our country has a new president, our state has a new governor, and we have a set of global economic conditions we couldn’t have anticipated,” Barlowe said. “There is a large set of internal and external circumstances that impact the way this institution operates, and we need to be constantly aware of how those things define our strategic direction.”

Chuck Lehnert, vice president for facilities and construction and co-convener of the committee, said the recalibration will look at updating and changing the 2007 plan to better position the University to be a leader in the excellence of its academic programs, the depth of its research, the availability of its world-class health care, and the reach of its global engagement — among other areas.

To meet these needs, the 90-person committee has divided into nine work groups — six focused on creating goals and measurements for obtaining those goals, and three looking at broader issues of distinctiveness, a University land-use plan and finances. Each goal-oriented group will decide which goals from “Directions” they will keep, revise or delete, and which goals they will newly create.

The work groups will look at setting goals in the following areas before the next meeting of the full committee at 8 a.m. Monday, Feb. 22, in the Dana Conference Center:

Undergraduate Academic Programs;

Graduate and Professional Academic Programs;

Research and Technology Transfer;

Student Centeredness and Campus Directions;

Health-Care Access and Delivery;

Community Outreach and Global Engagement;

Land Use;

Distinctiveness; and

Finances.

A big change from the 2007 document, Lehnert said, will be including measurements and implementation procedures for the prescribed goals.

“We didn’t have that before,” he said. “There was nothing in ‘Directions’ that said, ‘Here’s how we’re going to measure this.’ But it’s an important aspect to include because we need to be able to see how we’re doing two or three years down the road.”

Barlowe and Lehnert said participation from every member of the University community will be essential to the success of the revised strategic plan, and several avenues have been established to help constituents easily get their voice heard and thoughts added to the process.

Marcie Ferguson, administrative assistant for strategic planning, has revamped the strategic planning Web site (Utoledo.edu/strategicplan) to hold comprehensive strategic planning information. Videos, minutes, schedules, presentations and more from every meeting are available to view, and feedback on those items is accepted and encouraged. A UT strategic plan Facebook page and Twitter profile looks to engage the University community in weekly discussions about topics important to the shape of the document.

Interested parties also can join the committee and the work groups to be more intimately involved in the process, Barlowe said, adding that after a draft of the revised plan is compiled at the end of April, input will be sought far and wide.

“We are absolutely determined that every University stakeholder be included in this process,” she said. “We need students, we need faculty, we need community members and administrators — part of what shapes a great strategic plan is input from a vast group of diverse people.”

Lehnert said getting large numbers of individuals to influence a grand plan that will position the University as a regional, national and global leader is no small task, but a necessary and accomplishable one.

“These issues are broad and our goals are big, but we can’t afford to be overwhelmed,” he said. “If you’re hungry and you have an apple, you don’t look at it and say, ‘Well, my mouth isn’t that big, there’s no way I can swallow that whole thing.’ You take bites. If you don’t start by taking bites, you’re going to starve to death.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the full committee meeting Monday, Feb. 22, at 8 a.m. in the Dana Conference Center, or visit utoledo.edu/strategicplan to learn more about getting involved.