January 10, 2016

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee is advisory to the Chancellor and Provost. We ask that the Steering Committee work over the course of the 2016-17 academic year to design and implement a strategic planning process that results in a focused set of 4-6 high-level priorities by May of 2017 that will guide the university for at least the next five years. The committee should articulate broad-based priorities that that cut across schools, departments and units, are inspiring and impactful, and can be translated locally by most, if not all, units of the University. The high-level priorities articulated by the Steering Committee should be anchored in and reflective of the University’s mission.

In order to carry out this work, we ask that the committee take an evidence-based approach, challenging assumptions and gathering data and background research as needed. The committee will benefit from external inputs including an environmental scan, which will help it to identify underlying themes and trends across campus, across higher education, and in our region that should inform the University’s strategic priorities. To make the planning process as inclusive and transparent as possible, we expect the committee to devise a process for seeking broad and diverse input at all phases of planning. Particular attention should be paid to the appropriate points for seeking input from governing bodies, including a vote from the governing faculty on the high-level goals. Once the overarching priorities have been identified, the committee should hone in on a small number of key initiatives that will advance these priorities, and may consider launching project teams to create a detailed implementation plan for each. This second phase of work may occur in the 2017-2018 academic year.

As the committee plans for broad consultation, we ask that it seek diverse input across academic disciplines and departments, taking care to hear from junior and senior faculty and staff, students pursuing diverse pathways, and staff from a variety of departments. The committee should make a special effort to hear from underrepresented groups, and, given the role of UM-Flint in the community, extra attention should be paid to gathering community input in forums that attract new and different voices. Students, alumni and donors should also be consulted. The committee should consider the use of surveys and focus groups to gather input, as well as a variety of mechanisms such as open forums, discussion at regularly scheduled department and governance meetings, and online feedback mechanisms. Overall the committee should create numerous and redundant mechanisms for gathering input to ensure broad participation.

We expect the committee to conduct its work in a transparent manner. This includes sharing regular updates and minutes from meetings on the strategic planning website and communicating with campus actively and redundantly, using multiple modes of communication and creating channels for input and response wherever possible. The committee should consult with faculty, staff and students at key stages of the planning process: when high-level priorities are proposed, project teams launched, and implementation plans announced.

The strategic plan that results from this process will only be effective if we build in accountability. As high-level priorities and targeted initiatives are developed, we ask the committee to recommend locus of responsibility and determine metrics for success: Who will own each item? How and when will we measure and report on progress? Please consider resource needs, identifying funding sources or reallocations to pay for any new initiatives, and link these resource needs to the budgeting process. The committee should not only consider the need for new programs, but also build in evaluation criteria for sunsetting programs that have not met our expectations or are no longer relevant.

Once high-level priorities are identified, the committee should consider whether project teams are needed to create detailed implementation plans for key initiatives. These projects teams may incorporate national and regional data and trends as well as local data, and may visit relevant programs at other institutions that doing excellent work on the particular topic. Project teams would have responsibility for gathering broad campus input on the assigned topic, and could consider whether additional research/surveys/focus groups are needed. We anticipate that project teams would develop their implementation plans in the 2017-18 academic year, and would share their emerging plans for campus discussion before finalizing them.

The output of the strategic planning process, the work of the Steering Committee and that of the project teams will be very important in shaping our institutional priorities and resource allocations over the next five years and beyond. The high-level priorities emerging in Spring 2017 will factor into our budgeting decisions for FY2018, and the detailed implementation plans created in the 2017-18 academic year will influence our budget for FY2019. The implementation plans will allow us to assign responsibility and create measures of success for important initiatives, and hold ourselves accountable for achieving those metrics. Going forward, we anticipate using the implementation plans to guide the university’s work on a rotating three-year horizon, with plans updated annually.