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Strategic Optimization & Alignment Review (SOAR):
Helping Us Understand Who We Are, Who We Want to Be, and How We'll Get There
Colleges and universities across the nation are asking strategic questions about how best to advance their mission by investing institutional resources in programs that reflect their distinctive character, purpose, and priorities. UND is no different. Together, we are trying to better understand who we are as a higher education institution, who we want to be, and how we will get there.
The creation of a roadmap to the future requires us to determine in what strategic directions we'd like to head, to set meaningful goals and benchmarks to get there, and to be proactive in determining in what ways we'd like to invest our resources. This process compels vision, leadership, and data- and best practices-informed analysis at all levels. Its hallmarks are meaningful engagement and collaboration.
The Strategic Optimization & Alignment Review (SOAR) is one of UND's major initiatives to help identify our university and program priorities, assist with data-driven planning, and guide strategic resource allocation to support our mission and advance the five pillars of Exceptional UND.
By engaging the campus to plan for UND's future, SOAR will enable us to develop and invest in key areas of strength and distinction as North Dakota's premier student-centered, research-intensive public university.
Faculty and staff – those who engage in UND's most important mission, educating students – drive the SOAR initiative. They know the strengths of their programs and are in the best position to recognize their potential. Faculty and staff therefore populate the process's main working groups and their input drives the entire process. These working groups are charged with developing the key elements of the program evaluation process and informing its outcomes.
Selected from nominations by the campus community, the Academic Task Force conducting the academic program evaluations consists of faculty and department chairs. The Support Service Task Force that conducts the service program reviews similarly consists of staff and faculty. And, providing general guidance and oversight, the Coordinating Committee contains University Senate and Staff Senate leadership as well as central university leadership. At the heart of the initiative are core UND values, including process integrity, meaningfulness, clarity, communication, collaboration, transparency, and quality outcomes.
Robust support services are being enhanced to advance these efforts. The Facilitation Team provides technical and project management support as well as data retrieval and quality assistance. To manage effective communication, collaboration, and strategy sharing among and within all of these working groups, the SOAR Connector serves as liaison to and among all project teams, and works with the Division of University and Public Affairs to ensure information about the initiative is shared with the campus community.
All of the faculty, staff, and administrators involved in SOAR have been and will continue working together to shape a fully informed, dynamic, and meaningful program evaluation process that will work for UND – a process which fits our current circumstances and campus culture, and aligns with our aspirations.
The SOAR initiative will open the door to ongoing collaborative decision making to shape the future of an Exceptional UND.
Please keep an eye out for more updates and opportunities to learn more by visiting the SOAR homepage. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Steve Light, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.