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UT Strategic Plan possible to be implemented by September

Committee consensus: October is too late for the implementation process, given assimilation of colle

Editor in Chief

Published: Friday, June 25, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 20:06

Kevin Sohnly/IC

Kevin Sohnly/IC

UT President Lloyd Jacobs discussing the strategic plan process at Friday's "Meeting of the Whole" at the Lake Erie Center.

Kevin Sohnly/IC

Kevin Sohnly/IC

Associate Professor of business management Laurence Fink raises a question at the strategic plan meeting.

Do you think the university should start implementing its Strategic Plan in earlier in the semester?

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The University of Toledo Strategic Plan Committee met this morning at UT's Lake Erie Center for a "Meeting of the Whole," where the co-conveners for each of the six workgroups presented their part of the Directions 2010 Raw Draft.

The meeting, which allowed for open discussion among those administrators and faculty members in attendance, produced a motion to amend the strategic plan's implementation timeline. If such action is taken, the implementation process will be moved to an earlier date in September as opposed to sometime in October.

The proposed change in the implementation timeline came from College of Business Dean Tom Gutteridge, who thought colleges would face trouble adjusting to the new strategic plan late in the semester.

"We might want to move it [Directions 2010] up a little so that the colleges have the chance to kind of assimilate [to] this and begin to think about this yet in the fall…I'm concerned about it being late fall for this to all be done," Gutteridge said.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs entertained the idea of having the implementation process begin in September. "I would think that's your choice – the group's choice – if you want to bring the board in early and try to help form their opinions, get their opinions, do a hunt for deal breakers early on. Or do you want to hand them the totally finished document?" Jacobs said. "That's a choice we can make together, as to which is the better way to do that."

According to Jacobs, UT's Board of Trustees will meet early next week to announce committee assignments for the board, chairs of each committee and members of the committees. One of the BOT committees will be charged with receiving the strategic plan proposal and recommending it to the full board.

Chuck Lehnert, the Vice President of Facilities and Construction and Interim Director of the Scott Park Campus for Energy and Innovation, said the BOT has been informally taken through the planning process.

"We haven't formally presented it to the board [with] any content yet. We told them about the process, brought them up and got them informed about the process and how it's going. We haven't formally presented any content to them. They can get it – they can get it from the web, it's there," Lehnert said.

Jacobs called for a peer critiquing process before a preliminary draft of Directions 2010 is sent to the BOT committee.

"We may want a sort of internal critiquing feedback session, so at least we can go to the board committee with reasonable consensus," Jacobs said.

Jacobs also recommended that the proposals should be more "distinct" and the plan should keep in mind insulating the university from unfavorable budgetary situations and external trends before the proposal is received by the BOT.

"I don't think we're there yet by any means…I think the fiscal situation will be one of a number of external trends that are likely to occur. Possible fiscal downturn further or stay even where it's at with -- no fiscal recovery. But there are also major changes in health care, major changes in higher education, major changes probably in the state of human knowledge, if you will," Jacobs said.

Laurence Fink, an associate professor in the department of management and member of the committee's Outreach and Global Engagement workgroup, said he would like to see the implementation process moving as quickly as possible.

"We can have the greatest ideas, but to actually get this stuff up and running and prioritize, not only do we need the schools doing it, but we need some kind of coordination mechanism because a lot of these things are across schools," Fink said.

In an interview after the meeting, Lehnert said he doesn't think that moving forward with the implementation process sooner than planned will affect the metrics and measurements by which each of the strategic plan's goals and sub-goals are measured.

"I don't think that [the metrics] will be a big deal for [the colleges]. They're already thinking about, working on it. We're not telling them not to reinvent the wheel. There are national benchmarks out there, and we're going to give them a table of benchmarks that other universities are already [using]…We were just a little concerned about getting too far out in front of the Board of Trustees, but we can tighten it up a little," Lehnert said.

*News Analysis: The University of Toledo Strategic Plan is centered on achieving the following six core goals for the university: excellence in undergraduate programs, distinction for UT's graduate and professional programs, enhanced reputation for the university's research and technology transfer, improved learning environment and engagement with the university community, national recognition as a top tier academic health center, and expanded outreach and global engagement. Each goal and sub-goal will be evaluated by the university based on goal-specific metrics and measurements. The strategic plan will require a realignment of the University's resources in order to meet the needs of the new curriculum and programs. The Committee on Strategic Reorganization, which is a distinct part of the strategic plan,  is planning to restructure academic affairs at UT similar to an academic model adopted from Arizona State University. The six workgroups and the CSR together make up UT's overarching strategic plan.

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