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Discussion of UMaine’s strategic vision continues

Provost Jeffrey Hecker hosted the second in a series of forums on Nov. 29 in the Wells Conference Center regarding the new strategic vision and values he and new University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy are developing. The forums are designed to get input from the UMaine and UMaine Machias communities about developing that vision.

“We believe that it is important to articulate a shared set of values and that all members of our community should have a voice in developing these value statements,” Hecker said. “We are using the term ‘strategic values’ to capture the idea that these value statements will be used to guide decision-making for the next several years.”

Hecker announced three goals they intend to establish while developing this initiative. These goals include further developing research and scholarships, stewarding state partnerships and fostering learner success.

At this forum, the goal Hecker focused on was “fostering learner success.” Faculty and community members from the audience and members from UMaine Machias via video conference chimed in with questions and suggestions about the wording of the goal and what the department should make a priority in their vision for the future of UMaine.

Some members of the community voiced concerns about diversity.

“Expanding diversity and inclusivity are essential to fulfilling our tripartite mission of teaching, research and service. This assumption is embedded in the three strategic value statements we have drafted. Through our conversations with faculty, staff, and students to date it is abundantly clear that there is shared recognition of the centrality of diversity to the university’s future success,” Hecker said.

Hecker and Ferrini-Mundy have researched the current climate of colleges in the United States and the challenges they face when recruiting students. Hecker discussed Maine’s shrinking youth retention rates and noted the development of a plan that encourages students graduating from UMaine to stay within the state.

Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Robert Dana spoke briefly about establishing goals for his department and what needs to be prioritized.

“We will be working on retention initiatives, early warning for students needing support, and diversity and inclusion on campus,” Dana said. “Our efforts will support our mantra of students first in partnership to build a kind, caring and compassionate community. Introspection and an overall evaluation of what we are doing and where we are heading is always a healthy approach to making campus better and the university stronger.”

Hecker and Ferrini-Mundy haven’t set a timeframe for this plan. They intend to work on these goals for however long it takes to reach them.

The next forum, “Creating and Innovating for Maine and Beyond,” will be held on Dec. 6 in the Wells Conference Center.

“We have purposely not identified a specific period of time during which these values and goals will guide decision-making. The higher education landscape in Maine, and indeed in the United States, is changing rapidly. Our goal is to develop a strategic vision and a set of processes that allow for rapid adaptation to this changing landscape,” Hecker said.

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