New Strategic Plan in Process

Aden Hizkias
  Staff Writer

In an exclusive interview with The Carolinian, UNC-Greensboro’s Provost Dana Dunn discussed the upcoming strategic planning process and the steps taken to this point.

Last fall, there were forums around campus talking with stakeholders about their views on the university’s future and 46 different meetings in both the Fall and Spring on what the new plan would entail.

The plan was delayed with the arrival of new Chancellor Franklin Gilliam, Jr., who received the additional feedback and comments before he arrived on campus.

Chancellor Gilliam brought his own insights to the themes that had been developed, and earlier this semester, they met and shared the conceptual framework with the stakeholders, which include students, faculty, community members and the strategic planning committee, and the planning forum was placed on the university website.

“We wanted to see if it aligns with people’s views about the university, or as Chancellor Gilliam has been saying, to see if it ‘feels authentic’ because the plan is only good if the majority of the campus stakeholders see that it fits with their vision of the university. Both whom we are and whom we are striving to be in the future,” Dunn said.

This new plan is about establishing goals for the university in terms of what the future direction of UNCG will be and where the resources and energy will be focused.

There are three themes the university selected for this process. Although the names may change as the planning process continues, the concepts are what has been emphasized and will remain.

The first is “healthy lives.” UNCG campus is one of five campuses nationwide that was designated a healthy campus because of the programs with broadly defined health issues that span across campus. Whether it is physical, mental, public or environmental.

This theme is evident through academic programs in Nursing, in the Sciences and faculty in the Business School, who are doing work in health economics. There are also programs in student affairs that encourage health and wellness with the students, faculty and staff. The new Student Recreation Center has also represents initiatives for the health of students.

“All this focus on health and wellness, which is both an area of education, degree granting and research, is also very closely tied in the way we are encouraging the campus community to thrive and be healthy,” Dunn said.

Dunn discussed the importance of health in the future in terms of graduates who will go into a transforming range of healthcare occupations as well as the promotion of wellness by avoiding the sick model and treatment as important because of the cost associated with health care.

Matters of public health and inequities in health are pressing social issues, and so this concept, which the theme produces, is to address these issues through graduates who will be going into those fields or faculty doing research that helps provide information to address some of these concerns.

The second theme is “vibrant communities.” This fits into the community because of the initiatives across campus such as the School of Music Theater and Dance. The work that this department does contributes to the idea of the second theme.

“The performances, music, theater and dance, enrich this community. The education of these students, who go on to work in these areas, will enrich whatever communities they will ultimately find themselves in. That school is very much about creation of a vibrant community,” Dunn said.

Another program that ties into this theme is the Business School, where much of the work that goes on is incorporated into economic development and how people are able to contribute to the economic well being of citizens in a community.

Dunn also discussed the social sciences that spread from the College of Arts and Sciences to Health and Human Sciences. These departments and colleges deal with a range of social issues in communities such as social work.

The Center for New North Carolinians is a research facility, which focuses on those that come to Greensboro sometimes as refugees and helps with integrating them into the community and providing support that is necessary to ensure that they prosper.

Dunn also points out that much of the faculty scholarly work ties into the creation of vibrant communities.

“I believe that UNCG is very strong in terms of its community engagement, “ Dunn said.

As a Carnegie engaged campus, which is a designation that UNCG has received in recognition of all the partnerships it has within the community, the university shows its involvement and the reason for this second theme.

The third theme of the new Strategic Plan is the concept of “global connections.”

The Quality Enhancement Plan is part of this new plan, which is focused on globalization and making sure students will have the knowledge and skills to engage in the global community.

This part was chosen as the special project for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Accreditation review that tied with what was believed to be an important factor of the university.

The International Honors College and the Study Abroad Programs are indications of how this theme has been a large part of the university as well as the diversity on campus and the emphasize on the intercultural communication and interaction, according to Dunn.

“Each of these three themes cross cuts the campus: how we educate students, the scholarly work of the faculty, and the community engaged work and the partnerships we have,” Dunn said.

Dunn discussed Gilliam’s thoughts on the new Strategic Plan. She spoke about the effectiveness of the new chancellor and his ability to analyze the university and bringing in his ideas into the mix and combining it together.

“He’s been very masterful in saying ‘let’s take it, pull it together, and package it in a way that makes sense to everyone so we can then begin to communicate it to the external world,’” Dunn said.

Dunn believes that one of the things that attracted Chancellor Gilliam was that he fit with the plan. Although the strategic plan was still in process, she believes that the main concepts were the things that he saw when he was looking at the university.

“I think, in part, he came here because it fit with the emphasis in these areas and a desire to support these,” Dunn said.

Gilliam does have a specific goal that he will like to accomplish for the university in the next five years. UNCG is an institution that attracts students from around the world and well beyond the community; the university serves disproportionately the population of North Carolina, which means it is a strong regional university.

With the community and the partnerships close by, Gilliam has contributed the goal of making UNCG the best regional university in the nation.

Dunn hopes that with this plan, the university will be more prominent and visible.

“I believe, in the five years, having this plan that is focused, that captures all the strength that is there, that the world may not fully appreciate, will help us get the message out,” Dunn said.

Categories: News, Spartan News

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