Renewing the UMass Dartmouth Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan Overview

Update - October 22, 2007

Introduction

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's 2000 strategic plan, Engaged, Embedded, and Evolving focuses on achieving transformative growth and fostering increased institutional effectiveness. The strategic plan asks the entire campus community to maximize effectiveness by creating and sustaining an intellectual climate that is active, engaged and excited about the teaching, learning, research and service work done at every level of the campus.

The plan also calls upon the campus community to choose collaboration and partnership as the preferred approach for doing this work. It urges the campus to reject isolation in acting and to not be limited by regional geography. The plan challenges the campus to become powerful "stewards of our place" by allowing local needs to be the stimulus for the creativity and energy that lead to global solutions. It encourages working in synergy with our region and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to create significant educational, economic, social and cultural impacts. The plan challenges everyone to be both intellectually engaged and actively embedded in the community.

And finally, the plan asks each individual to embrace change as a constant, to become more comfortable with the difficult process of personal and institutional change, and to see innovation as the default response to current and emerging trends. Although higher education institutions move slowly and change reluctantly, the plan asks the UMass Dartmouth community to be an agent of change and be willing to be changed in the process. The plan reminds the campus of the entrepreneurship that has shaped its past. It calls upon faculty, staff, students and campus leaders to continue that tradition by being willing to "break new ground" in their present and future decision-making.

Six specific goals of the plan focus efforts at engagement, being in the community, and evolving. A recent Strategic Plan Progress Report (February, 2007) outlined many significant accomplishments of the first five years of the strategic plan implementation. It also points out areas where more focused work needs to be initiated and/or completed.

The Strategic Plan Progress Report unequivocally calls for growth to continue at UMass Dartmouth. It also points out that it will be absolutely necessary in the next phases of strategic activities to reflectively calibrate growth choices to ensure they are invigorated and sustained by UMass Dartmouth's core values. It calls upon the campus to reaffirm those core values as it continues to be bold in the ways it innovates to address 21st century needs.

 

Next Steps: Core Values Informing Growth and Bold Innovation

This report initiates the next phase of UMass Dartmouth's strategic planning work. It is the result of: an extensive and broad-based participatory SWOT analysis, a faculty-staff-student-administrative leadership retreat to identify key objectives, broad-based workgroups to generate practical implementation strategies, and senior staff analysis and priority setting with clear measurable outcomes, and resource allocation. This collaborative work took place from fall 2006 through fall 2007.

The six basic goals of the original plan remain unchanged. The objectives and the implementation strategies under each goal are new and are fully outlined in the matrix that accompanies this narrative. The highest priority objectives and implementation strategies are summarized briefly here. It is anticipated that many of the objectives and strategies outlined may take three to five years to fully achieve. It is also anticipated that the plan matrix will be updated every 18 months to keep it current and to indicate practical progress toward goals. This refreshed Strategic Plan has a conceptual framework and a practical set of key activities to drive it forward. The objectives and strategies are presented for each goal:

Goal 1: The University is recognized for its excellent undergraduate and graduate programs that integrate innovative teaching strategies and prepare students for advancement in the twenty-first century environment.

Significantly expand graduate programs and enrollment

The first new objective is to focus on graduate programs to continually enhance the programs quality and foster further development. One important strategy is to carefully assess how to increase graduate student enrollment such that graduate students make up 15-20% of total enrollments by 2012. An important tactic is to develop a UMass Dartmouth Master Plan for Graduate Education that incorporates a profile for each graduate program that determines market demand, enrollments, research support, space, and budgets; distinguishing program characteristics (research-based, professional-based, mission-based); student characteristics (quality; domestic/international, full time/part time, completion rates); and resources requirements (space, student support sources, services needed).

The plan also focuses on achieving Carnegie Doctoral status by increasing doctoral student enrollments such that 20 doctoral students a year are graduating by 2012. Illustrative tactics call for strengthening and expanding enrollment in existing programs such as Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies, Nursing, Electrical Engineering, inter-campus programs in Marine Sciences, Biomedical Engineering and Technology, and Chemistry. We also plan to develop, review, approve, and implement new doctoral programs such as the Mathematics Education Research PhD, and will investigate the feasibility and need for new doctoral programs in Chemistry, Education Administration, Health Psychology, and Professional Writing. Another important objective is to formalize and institutionalize the administrative structure and governance for all graduate programs that will improve recruitment and support of graduate students.

In focusing on graduate program growth and the related and necessary research work that is integral to those programs, core commitments to undergraduate teaching and programs cannot be neglected. The campus must sustain quality teaching and scholarship at the undergraduate level and move from being an undergraduate school with some graduate programs, to being a fully integrated learning community with effective, quality programs at all levels.

Creating effective balance between teaching and scholarship obligations, undergraduate and graduate programming, and recognizing and celebrating innovative achievements in both, is a UMass Dartmouth core value which must guide this work.

Build programs on academic excellence

UMass Dartmouth will build on the academic strengths of current graduate programs and expand access to achieve the objective of becoming distinguished as a leading 21st century university. We will identify and support current major strategic programs of excellence (Marine Sciences, Portuguese Studies, Electrical Engineering, Bio/Medical Engineering &Technology), and will address emerging critical trends (Biotechnology, Math Ed Research, Artisanry, Public Policy, Sustainability and Educational leadership).

The plan calls for leveraging the quality of the nationally accredited programs: Visual Arts (NASAD); Chemistry (ACS); Engineering including Computer Science [excluding Physics or Materials/Textiles] (ABET); Business (AACSB International); Clinical Laboratory Science (NACLS); Nursing (NLNAC).

The campus will work actively to overcome barriers of time, space and geography to provide wider access to courses and programs for diverse student audiences by establishing a work group to indentify opportunities and to develop strategies to expand and strengthen course delivery options (online, hybrid, weekend, evening, summer, etc). The work group's goal is to position UMass Dartmouth to meet the community's demand for educational programs in an increasingly competitive higher education environment.

Ensuring that these academic programs embrace entrepreneurial, innovative pedagogy and actively integrate theory and reflective practice will ground them in another core value of the campus. Making certain that these excellent programs are accessible and affordable will align them directly with a primary campus value.

Focus on important learning outcomes

Another important objective under goal one is to establish an assessment-based culture and foster a campus community that understands and utilizes integrated student learning outcomes. A task force on integrated student learning outcomes comprised of faculty, academic, and student affairs professionals will identify and agree on desired learning outcomes that all graduates should have. Simultaneously, work will begin to develop and implement a comprehensive assessment program for general education.

All of these activities are centered in the University's belief that personal responsibility for one's own learning is necessary and that accountability enhances the effectiveness of all activities.

Enhance innovative undergraduate programs

Twenty-first century graduates need to be fully engaged global citizens through liberal arts and sciences education that incorporates civic engagement and service learning. Developing an Office of Civic Engagement and Service Learning in Student Affairs and creating a faculty fellows program designed to increase the number of SL classes offered are examples of the strategies needed to meet this objective. The intent is to have every UMass Dartmouth student graduate with service learning experiences by 2012.

These activities emphasize another UMass Dartmouth core value: understanding that education is an opportunity that requires giving back through community service and civic engagement.

Expand our public image and enhance our reputation

Energetic work will be undertaken to optimize the campus' reputation as an excellent regional research university by a focused and energetic media strategy and through the development of a branding architecture, including a campus position statement and visual identity, to guide the messaging of the campus to its key audiences.

Celebrating achievement will certainly enhance the sense of community that UMass Dartmouth embraces as necessary to sustain its commitment to excellence.

Goal 2: A community of respectful learners and scholars is established.

Clarify and reaffirm campus core values

The campus needs to operate from a culture of pride grounded in the University's mission and core values. Shared values strengthen community.

An important strategy is to develop a broad and renewed shared understanding of UMass Dartmouth's vision, mission and core values that inform its culture and communicate this effectively within and outside the campus. The campus will convene monthly "Compelling Conversations about Core Values" with the goal of fostering real exchange of ideas; and refining, reaffirming and celebrating a sense of shared purpose. Another strategy is to examine key governance structures to ensure collaborative and consultative working relationships. A related strategy is to build relationships across programs and services by forging collaborations within and between faculty, students, and staff.

Over many years, UMass Dartmouth has considered collegiality as a necessary condition of good decision-making and understands that collaboration most often leads to the most lasting and effective problem-solving.

Evolve into a total learning community

To strengthen students' college experience, it is critical that they have clear, understandable and achievable academic goals. An important strategy is to improve the effectiveness of the academic advising process by developing a comprehensive First-Year Success program that includes learning communities, block schedule advising, general education advising, and strategies for success with unified services co-located in frosh housing by 2009. A related strategy is to improve advising in the academic departments for majors.

A priority objective is to produce positive undergraduate educational experiences. This will be accomplished by employing strategies that maintain and strengthen close contacts and interactions between students and faculty, improve honors program, and pilot frosh interest groups (FIG) and learning communities in frosh residence halls.

UMass Dartmouth is often described as a place that is small enough to ensure that one will be known personally, yet large enough to challenge students to become everything they can imagine. These activities are meant to underscore the campus core value of being student-centered.

Support professional development

The University's most valuable assets are the faculty and staff who work here. Committing to their ongoing professional development is essential.

The plan calls for ensuring effective faculty development that encompasses teaching, scholarship, and service across faculty members' careers. A strategy is to bring existing faculty development programs (e.g., CTE CATLS, Faculty Instructional Development, Provost's travel/publication fund) and other initiatives under the direction of one office to improve support coordination. High quality staff development opportunities will be provided so that excellent service at all levels is provided by all staff and is recognized and celebrated. The first steps will be performing a needs assessment to identify staff development and training opportunities for various functions and services and then moving to effective programming.

Understanding that life-long learning generates true engagement in one's work is an important core value.

Another objective is to recognize, celebrate and support teaching and scholarship at all levels in order to attract and retain high quality faculty, staff and students. Some of the strategies under this objective include creating a graduate student association to support scholarship, publishing outlines of work in progress, supplementing college/dept budgets for support of student scholarship activities, expanding the Wall of Scholarship event to include broader representation such as articles; and selecting and estimating funding for a database of all scholarly achievements on campus based on Faculty Activity Reports.

Goal 3: The intellectual capital of the faculty, staff, and students is embedded in the activities of the region and the Commonwealth.

Deepen community connections

The campus must examine the structure and purposes of professional continuing education to maximize its outreach and effectiveness in meeting regional needs and providing full access to university programs. A first step will be an internal clarification of PCE mission and purposes and a second activity will be to engage appropriate consultants to review current activities, assess opportunities and obstacles, and assist with the planning of future activities and relationships to constituencies.

The campus must improve its K-12 educational programming. A Chancellor's Advisory Group will undertake planning to enhance and advance UMass Dartmouth's impact on K-12 school systems by restructuring EDU, MAT, and other related programs.

Recognizing and rewarding faculty and staff for engagement in regional cultural, civic and educational activities is another important objective under this goal. A proposal to include categories for university and community service in staff evaluations is one strategy towards achieving this objective.

Being embedded in our community is the underlying core value that informs these activities.

Goal 4: Student access, diversity and success have been demonstrated during a period of enrollment growth.

Create inclusive environment

An important objective is to create a UMass Dartmouth culture conducive to inviting, embracing and supporting diversity. The campus will demonstrate commitment to enhancing diversity by establishing a university task force (consisting of students, faculty, and staff) charged with developing recommendations and strategies designed to foster a campus climate that supports diversity of race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. The plan also calls for increasing faculty and staff participation in existing campus diversity programs (e.g., College Now, START, LSAMP, Unity House, Women's Resource Center, Center for Access &Success, etc.). The campus plans to include a statement of the University's commitment to support diversity in all widely disseminated University print and web publications, and to reflect campus diversity via art and symbols presented on campus.

Planned activity includes assessing campus climate and services for campus community populations by conducting a student, staff, and faculty survey which will provide baseline data to work from. Education, training, and development opportunities will be offered for staff, students, and faculty to increase multicultural knowledge and skills.

Embracing diversity as an essential enhancement to learning, and celebrating its potential to broaden one's perspectives and understanding, is a core value at UMass Dartmouth.

Increase campus diversity

It is important to attract and retain an academically prepared and diverse student body without reducing enrollment and timely degree completion. A starting strategy is to construct an undergraduate enrollment plan designed to reflect the University's emphasis on access, diversity and academic excellence while meeting financial and physical capacity objectives and mobilize a campus collaboration to accomplish enrollment goals. A related strategy is to develop and implement an enrollment plan with the specific goal of incrementally increasing the enrollment of students of color each year to reflect the profile of the Commonwealth's students of color going to college. The plan includes a review of all majors to identify those majors in each College having a gender imbalance in their enrollments reflecting more than a 30% - 70% mix; and develop an effective plan for attracting and supporting students who will balance the enrollment.

Another important objective is to create a level of workforce diversity that would complement and support greater student diversity. Creating opportunities for the hiring of faculty/staff of color in order to increase the underrepresented minorities and females in faculty and professional staff positions; include achievement of diversity objectives as a component in annual evaluations of senior leadership; and provide technical guidance and support to academic departments to better identify, attract, and retain candidates of color and female candidates in fields where they are underrepresented.

Improve retention and graduation rates

There will be focused activities to improve undergraduate retention and graduation of students, with a particular emphasis on at-risk students. New Student Orientation will be reviewed and restructured to ensure balance of academic and social introductory experiences. Student services will be realigned with student needs by assessing staffing levels and facility requirements to comprehensively meet student needs based on benchmarking and accreditation standards. The plans include assessing need and developing a design to enlarge the Fitness Center to accommodate larger number of students; studying the feasibility of creating a walking/bike path around ring road; re-designing the First-Year Experience Program; and researching models of student development appropriate for the campus and training all student affairs staff in applying the model in their areas. We also plan to focus on strengthening residential life infrastructure and providing living and learning opportunities to support students by increasing Residence Hall safety and developing facilities, staffing, programs, and services to address unmet needs of residential students.

The campus must improve the effectiveness of services we offer to support students in successfully pursuing postgraduate opportunities. Sample strategies for this objective are to focus on career development model to improve connections to job placement and post graduate education options; improve Career Resource Center's working relationship with the colleges, especially professional colleges; and develop more collaborations between Alumni Affairs and Career Resource Center.

Goal 5: An effective physical, technical, fiscal and human infrastructure is in place to support academic activities.

Expand learning infrastructure

The campus will improve library-based spaces, resources and services that appropriately meet 21st century undergraduate, graduate and community's teaching, scholarship and learning needs. An important strategy is to develop and proceed with plans for the library renovation and expansion that incorporates campus and community needs and trends in the academic library and information worlds. Another is to support the unique and internationally renowned archive for materials related to Portuguese-American culture by acquiring materials, securing financial resources, developing the new archives space, and recruiting staff to maintain, preserve, and make materials accessible worldwide.

Teaching and learning equipment must be adequate for effective instruction, particularly laboratory and studio equipment, classroom information technology hardware and software. It is necessary to increase capacity to assess, plan, maintain, and enhance campus learning spaces.

We will create an IT savvy 21st century campus community by establishing a 21st Century IT Savvy Community (ITSC) Committee with campus wide representation and responsible for coordinating campus wide discussion, forming workgroups, and ultimately delivering the definition document.

Enhancing the quality of service provided on the campus supports and sustains the core value of "going the extra mile" to ensure students and colleagues success and effectiveness.

Provide stewardship planning support

The campus will preserve the functionality of land and buildings with attention to aesthetics and sustainability by conducting appropriate studies before undertaking building projects.

The campus will increase its capacity to continually forecast, monitor, assess, upgrade/replace and maintain physical and technical infrastructure by developing a structure and process for monitoring and assessment of the physical and technical infrastructure. The campus will provide effective and efficient services, systems and initiatives for physical and technical infrastructure by developing an integrated, comprehensive and responsive approach.

The University will establish broad, shared, comprehensive and consistent data systems to support and inform decision-making, planning and resource allocation by improved data quality in information systems, and work with business units to determine planning and operational needs.

The plan calls for ensuring the effective, equitable and efficient allocation of campus spaces to optimize utilization through the development of campus-wide policies, procedures and management structure. A few strategies under this objective are to develop the policies, procedures, and data to inform and guide space allocation decisions; and perform analyses of identified space planning issues and act thereon.

The University will establish a multi-year budget plan for decision making by developing a five year rolling budget including a forecast of revenues and expenses by function and/or line item. An annual budget process linked to strategic objectives will be widely distributed. Alternative revenue sources will be developed to facilitate implementation of strategic objectives. The campus will also increase and align fund raising with strategic objectives.

Improve human resource management

The plan calls for reducing the timeline to hire faculty and staff by evaluating the current hiring process in the context of best practices in higher education for HR and EEO/AA departments.

The A&F Vice Chancellor will develop and maintain human resources and fiscal affairs staff competencies to effectively utilize advanced IT data systems. The Director of Human Resources will identify training needs and establish training programs for HR and A&F staff to effectively use advanced IT data systems.

 

Conclusion

This summary of planned activities is fleshed out in more detail on the accompanying matrix. Meant to be a roadmap, the Strategic Plan leaves room to seize emerging opportunities and to adjust when challenges require mid-course corrections.

It echoes the original plan's call to be engaged, embedded and evolving, yet challenges the entire community to take a close look at the new opportunities and challenges of 2007 through 2012 through the reflective lens of UMass Dartmouth's core values. This plan asks everyone at UMass Dartmouth to recommit themselves to boldly moving forward with energy and entrepreneurial spirit confident that great things can be accomplished by collective effort.

Contact Info:

Email: webdevelopment@umassd.edu - UMass Dartmouth Web Development Team