Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
As we are all aware, the pandemic has slowed or derailed many plans and initiatives on campus. After this unexpected COVID-driven hiatus, I am happily writing to share news regarding significant progress made on our campus’s inclusive and thoughtful strategic planning process. Following engagement with hundreds of faculty, staff and students; conversing with innovative and nationally accomplished higher-ed leaders; discussing ideas regarding our future in town halls and listening sessions; listening to feedback provided by our Faculty and Staff Senates and Student Government; and reviewing ideas submitted through a “think big” request for ideas, the campus community has identified 17 strategic ideas that will guide UM-Dearborn’s next decade and beyond.
During my inauguration speech delivered in April 2019, I shared my vision to advance this great university. In that speech, I listed my top priorities as:
- Enhancing the student experience and success.
- Supporting and developing faculty and staff excellence.
- Ensuring economic sustainability.
- Steadfastly promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
Today, my focus remains on these four important issues.
The campus community has also identified and built upon these critical priorities. After significant consideration of all our community input, the senior leadership team has selected the following ideas for further development and implementation:
Enhancing Student Experience and Success
- Refining and reaffirming our mission statement.
- Embracing our commuter campus identity.
- Creating a Student Advocacy and Success Center (currently underway).
- Re-designing and leveraging a new financial aid model built around affordability and accessibility (Destination Dearborn currently underway).
- Encouraging students who dropped out of school with 30 credits or less to complete degrees (Dearborn Comeback currently underway).
- Increasing financial aid to students impacted by COVID difficulties (currently underway).
- Improving student support systems (e.g., counselors, advisors, peer-mentoring, supplemental instruction, tracking systems) to improve retention and graduation rates.
- Establishing an Honors College.
- Developing a consistent empowering university-wide First-Year Experience (for FITIAC and transfer students).
- Infusing a problem-based learning Urban Futures theme to focus university curriculum around the future of human settlements and creating a broad-based CityWorks student internship program.
- Designing affinity groups or special tracks to enhance the student experience.
Developing Faculty and Staff Excellence
- Supporting our faculty, who are passionate teachers and at the forefront of their fields, by implementing a flexible Boyer Model of Scholarship as a framework for faculty performance and expectations.
- Establishing a Research Hub to better support faculty scholarship.
- Investing in our dedicated staff through professional advancement and development.
- Elevating community outreach to enhance enrollment management.
- Pursuing carbon neutral operational practices and policies.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Launching a diversity, equity and inclusion working group to develop an integrated plan that will touch each of our university initiatives and culture (currently underway).
This list is neither exhaustive nor final. It is a living guide and our first iteration at initiatives that have great promise and are within our grasp. Additional initiatives will be explored, vetted and added as warranted and consistent with our overall strategy. We are now establishing working groups to explore and further develop these ideas and determine success metrics for each idea. Each topic will have a senior leader assigned and a call for working group members will be forthcoming. These groups will be in place before the end of the semester.
In addition to the focus areas listed above, work is underway on developing a strategic enrollment management plan to address current enrollment, retention and graduation goals. The university is also moving to a responsibility center management budget model so that financial resources are identified and deployed strategically and sustainably in support of our strategic plan.
I hope that you join me in a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm as we begin to implement the priorities derived from and identified by our campus community. The only way we will succeed is to have our campus community engage with decisions through an inclusive and thoughtful process. I encourage you to reach out to any member of the senior leadership team or to me directly, if you have any additional ideas or thoughts to share as we move to the next phase of this process.
Thank you for your hard work, thoughtful input and guidance during this important effort. I am eager to begin reporting on our successes in the near future.
Go Blue - Go Dearborn!