On Nov. 15, the Wells Conference Center hosted an open forum called “Strategic Vision and Values: Defining Tomorrow at the University of Maine,” with President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Provost Jeffrey Hecker. The purpose of the forum was to discuss the University of Maine’s development and strategic direction.
The talk was structured to be open and inclusive, with the goal of creating a space for free-flowing dialogue. Attendees were requested to submit questions or comments which were then filtered and analyzed so they could be addressed in-depth at the end of the event.
This was the first in a series of open forums that President Ferrini-Mundy and Provost Hecker will host this year.
The new strategic vision for UMaine will largely pull ideas and values from the five-year “Blue Sky Initiative,” which started in 2012 and finished last year.
This plan was led by former President Paul W. Ferguson, who served UMaine from 2011 to 2014, and was designed around the axiom that “the University of Maine aspires to be the most distinctively student centered and community engaged of the American Research Universities,” according to a 2012 project update.
This new plan will aim to address UMaine’s role in supplying labor for a growing number of professions in the state. It will also focus on UMaine’s role as a land-grant university and Maine’s declining demographics in regards to the decrease of high school graduates in the state.
As a research university with a national and international presence, UMaine has a dual responsibility in having both of those factors play a role in the forming of this new plan.
From Nov. 15 to Jan. 30, the team working on this plan will articulate strategic values and create a strategic vision. From Feb. 1 to April 30, they will articulate goals and strategies and create a dashboard of key indicators before presenting the plan to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees in May.
A leadership retreat was recently held where the president’s cabinet gathered to discuss ideas for the new plan. They decided it needed to build on the Blue Sky outcomes, recognize and integrate existing initiatives and inspire new ones, as well as align incentives and resources with goals.
Partnering with other public and private schools in Maine and engaging the community but utilizing existing organizational structures will play a large role in the development of this plan.
Numerous groups will be consulted on the project, including the Faculty Senate, Student Government, the Alumni Association, the UMaine Foundation and the Board of Visitors.
The plan for this draft is based on three strategic values: Fostering learner successes, creating and innovating for Maine and beyond, and growing and stewarding partnerships.
“Fostering Learner Successes” is described in the draft proposal as a way for the university to create rich learning opportunities in the classroom, laboratory, studio, field and community. UMaine’s faculty and staff are also considered life-long learners, and the University is committed to their professional development over the span of their careers.
“Creating and Innovating for Maine and Beyond” is based on creating knowledge that impacts the social, cultural and economic well-being of the state based on UMaine’s status as a land and sea grant university.
“Growing and Stewarding Partnerships” will largely focus on partnering with other entities in fulfilling mutual goals in teaching, research and outreach missions. The draft proposal states, “These partnerships leverage the university’s and its collaborators’ assets to advance the cultural, economic, and civil interest of Maine communities even when a direct impact on the university’s mission is not obvious.”
Engaging stakeholders is one of the first steps in the formation of this project. Target groups include students, faculty, staff and administration, as well as state business and industry professionals, community members and the Maine government.
Project leaders are reaching out to these groups for their input, ideas, questions and comments regarding the process.
Provost Hecker said he believes that this plan needs to be inclusive, timely and guided by strategic values.
There will be three more forums this semester on UMaine’s strategic vision held at the Wells Conference Center.
The next forum will take place on Nov. 29 from 1-2:30 p.m. and is called “Fostering Learner Success.” After that will be “Creating and Innovating for Maine and Beyond” on Dec. 6 before the last forum on Dec. 10. called “Growing and Stewarding Partnerships.”
To participate or view recordings of the forums and access the powerpoint slides, visit umaine.edu/strategic-visioning.