April 12 campus communication

Dear Campus Community:

I write to provide updates regarding important recent campus efforts that I initially introduced in my January presentations to campus. As I articulated in those presentations, our efforts are focused in three main areas: aligning a clear identity and strategic plan for action for a vibrant UM, simplifying and strengthening how we work and how we support our employees and students, and recruiting and retaining students.

University Planning Committee Efforts

The UPC has focused on our academic heart and has completed most of its work. The Mission and Identity Subgroup is finalizing UM’s mission and five communities of excellence, which will be infused by our strong core curriculum.

The Data Subgroup will soon be sharing an interactive tool that will allow you to explore the results of their analysis. In the first stage of their work, they used a “blind” analysis to identify programs for further consideration. Deans currently are providing me with their input based on the UPC’s analysis as well as on their knowledge of factors that might have influenced the data. Not all of the programs identified in the first stage, which was broadly inclusive, will experience changes.

I will present my preliminary recommendations the week of April 16, and listening sessions will follow.

  • April 17, 3:00 PM, in SS 352: I will present my preliminary recommendations for UM’s future at a special session of Faculty Senate.
  • April 20, 4:00 PM, in SS 352: I and members of the UPC will host a campus forum for all employees. I will provide an overview of the process and my preliminary recommendations.
  • April 24 and 26, 3:00 PM, in SS 352: Faculty Senate will host listening sessions open to all faculty and staff. I encourage people to provide feedback at these sessions.

Student Success Efforts

I announced last month an organizational restructure that will allow us to take a more integrated approach to our student persistence efforts. Our Student Affairs and Office for Student Success teams have enthusiastically started a new collaborative effort to ensure a laser focus on supporting our students.

Recruitment and Enrollment Efforts

As part of this organizational restructure, we also will align our efforts in communications, marketing, and student recruitment. This alignment will help to ensure we tell our UM story in a compelling, clear, and coherent way. We have started a recruitment for a vice president of this integrated organization. While we are searching for this leader, our teams are working diligently to enroll the fall class. We have deployed several strategies, including social marketing efforts and calling campaigns around yielding students. We have called upon our deans and faculty to help in these efforts, and I encourage everyone to jump into a campus tour to share your love of UM. Our recruiters are still on the road, and our admissions and financial aid teams are working diligently to build our new class.

Project Simplification Efforts

Our Project Simplification team has been working to evaluate our administrative operations in light of the Voluntary Severance Offer. The goal of this effort is to support our employees in the critical work they do for UM and to ensure that we work as an integrated and coordinated team. I want UM to be the best place to work in the region.

The team is taking a hard look at ways to simplify, streamline, automate, or eliminate processes where appropriate to ensure enhanced service and support of core functions. They have gathered input through a campus survey. They also have consulted with other universities that have undergone this process and have identified some critical steps toward ensuring efficient and streamlined processes. We have learned that to ensure UM’s adaptability and long-term success, we must establish a team dedicated to continually assessing and streamlining our practices, looking holistically at our internal systems and assessing the way these services are delivered to students, faculty, and staff. We are working to refine the full scope of this project.

I am excited about the future of our great university, but I also recognize that change and transition can be difficult. We will navigate these transitions with compassion for all who might be impacted. I thank all of the campus citizens who have devoted time to these efforts. I am confident that as a result we will be a stronger institution better positioned to benefit our students and our state.