University systemwide strategic plan nears completion

The final presentation on the plan was presented to the Board of Regents last week.

The Board of Regents listen to Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar present during a regents meeting on Friday, May 11, 2018 at McNamara Alumni Center.

Ellen Schmidt, Daily File Photo

The Board of Regents listen to Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar present during a regents meeting on Friday, May 11, 2018 at McNamara Alumni Center.

Katrina Pross

University of Minnesota administrators are working to finalize the school’s first system-wide strategic plan, a multi-year process that is nearing completion after the final presentation was made to the Board of Regents last week. 

The plan aims to define the priorities of the University and how the system campuses can best serve the state.

“The goal of this plan is to better articulate the manner in which the University system serves the state of Minnesota in particular… it is about leveraging all of our collective strengths across the system,” said Jon Steadland, chief of staff for the Office of the President. 

The systemwide strategic plan focuses on outreach, research, health and education, as well as financial support for the plan. These are areas that tie into the University’s mission and current goals, Steadland said.

Many University regents say that the systemwide strategic plan is essential and necessary for the University because it outlines University priorities. 

“There is no question that strategic planning is one of the most fundamental things that the Board does with its chief executive… it’s critical that all the institutions have a quality strategic plan,” said Regent Darrin Rosha.

The plan is expected to be modified over time due to ever-changing circumstances. 

“[The systemwide strategic plan] is necessary and should be done on an ongoing basis. Once we have the plan, we have to review it every so often because things change, such as our appropriation from the [state] Legislature,” Regent Steve Sviggum said. 

Rosha said that strategic planning played an important role in the University’s budget requests to the Minnesota Legislature back in the 1990s, when Rosha previously served on the Board. Having a strategic plan made the Legislature more comfortable providing funding for the University because it knew the University’s goals and priorities, Rosha said.

The new systemwide plan is currently being drafted. There will also be an opportunity for public feedback and comment on the plan starting early August, Steadland said. The final plan will be presented to the Board for review in September and the Board will likely take action in October, he said. 

With University President Eric Kaler’s early resignation in 2019, the new president may be able to make suggestions to the plan. 

“The incoming person will have to look at that plan and make his or her comments on what they like and don’t like about it,” said Regent Randy Simonson

Joshua Preston, Chair of the Student Representatives to the Board, said the strategic plan must go forward despite Kaler’s resignation and that the next president will be responsible for seeing the plan go into action. 

“It’s only been in the last few years that any attention has been given to [the strategic plan] and President Kaler has been a huge advocate on this issue… it will make the University a truly statewide institution,” Preston said.