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T-minus one year to MPact: Update on UMN’s strategic plan

In MPact 2025’s last year of activity, the strategic plan is nearing completion and has made its mark systemwide.
Image by David Monterroso
The University of Minnesota campus gates on East Bank, Nov. 12, 2022.

The University of Minnesota’s current system-wide strategic plan MPact 2025 entered its final year of activity since being implemented by former University president Joan Gabel in 2021.

Planning for MPact began in 2016, and since its implementation after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has seen marked areas of improvement outside of its outlined goals including creating the ongoing PRISMH initiative for student mental health.

In Gabel’s absence, Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson has been in charge of providing updates on MPact 2025’s progress to the Board of Regents every December. Croson said the plan is still on track to be fulfilled by its intended deadline of 2025.

“When we’re not making progress, or not making progress as we’d hoped at this stage, the first question is to think about why,” Croson said. “If you’re meeting all of your goals, you probably weren’t ambitious enough to start with.”

The plan promises to uphold the University’s mission of education, research and outreach by following five commitments. Each commitment has a subset of items for the University to take action on, like a checklist.

The goal of the first commitment, “Student Success,” is to focus on improving student well-being in the areas of enrollment, retention, graduation and mental health. “Discovery, Innovation and Impact,” the next commitment, is dedicated to growing the University’s research capabilities.

Vice President of Research and Innovation Shashank Priya said the University is meeting the research goals laid out by MPact 2025.

Under MPact 2025, Priya said the University is receiving over $1 billion in sponsored funding for research and, according to the 2023 HERD survey, is ranked #12 in public research institutions nationwide and is on track to be within the top 10 by 2025.

“The University’s research enterprise is strong, and our work is providing real-world impact,” Priya said.

The third commitment, “MNtersections,” focuses on future innovation of technology and sustainability, according to MPact 2025’s outline.

According to Chief Sustainability Officer Shane Stennes, the University took steps to address climate action as outlined by MPact 2025 including installing renewable energy sources systemwide, switching to electric vehicles and reducing energy consumption in University buildings.

“I think it’s helpful to see how this work connects into our institutional commitments, and then how it relates to the things outside of the University and in the broader world,” Stennes said.

The final two commitments, “Community and Belonging” and “Fiscal Stewardship,” aim to make each campus feel more inclusive and target areas of financial strain across the University.

Of the 42 goals across all five commitment categories, only nine are left to be completed, including increasing student retention and reducing student debt owed to $2,500 below the national average. 

“Student Success” and “Community and Belonging” both have three action items left each. Each of the other categories only has one more goal before they are completed, according to Croson.

Croson said the work done in this strategic plan has been amazing and hopes the University will continue that trajectory with its next president and strategic plan.

“From my perspective, as I think about strategic planning, I’m kind of comfortable with having some goals that we make great progress toward, but maybe we don’t make it 100 percent,” Croson said. “We [should] continue that work in our next strategic plan and moving forward.”

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