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President's letter: Mon 2/4/14
Dear Campus Community:
As you may be aware, we have spent a great deal of time with faculty and various University leadership groups discussing ways in which we might redesign our traditional budgeting model in order to create a process for allocating University resources more effectively. As a result of those discussions, and as part of collaborative governance, I am pleased to announce that the University of North Dakota is about to embark on a major Program and Support Service Prioritization process. This effort, which aligns with our Exceptional UND roadmap, will significantly improve the way we approach the allocation of funds and will help us better understand our strengths and weaknesses as we position ourselves for the future.
This new process, which will impact funding decisions at UND, will be designed primarily by faculty and staff members, keeping in mind the evolving realities of the financial environment in which we must operate, such as the new outcomes-based funding model adopted by the North Dakota Legislature. To find out more, I invite you to attend one of several informational and data-gathering sessions Feb. 12-13. You can sign up for a session at https://und.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_cOBjJRhrHxlxFJP.
It is important to understand that, as we embark on this initiative, we are designing a new funding allocation process for the future. We are establishing a process that, over a multiyear period, will enable us to shift resources towards programs and support functions essential to our liberal arts foundation and our mission of teaching and learning, research, scholarship and creative activity, and service.
Our approach will be modeled on the process described in the book Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services by Robert C. Dickeson, head of the USA Group Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to improving higher education, and president emeritus of the University of Northern Colorado. We will adapt the process to meet our specific needs and unique institutional culture and values. As recommended by UND's Academic Cabinet, we have obtained the services of nationally renowned expert and facilitator Larry Goldstein to ensure that our process is sound. Larry will be facilitating the Feb. 12-13 information and data gathering sessions. I strongly encourage all members of our campus community to attend one of these sessions to meet Larry and find out more.
This effort will be overseen by a Coordinating Committee that includes Provost Tom DiLorenzo, Vice President Alice Brekke, Senate Chair Ryan Zerr and Senate Chair-elect Melissa Gjellstad. The effort itself will be carried out by a broadly representative and diverse group that consists predominately of faculty and staff from across the institution.
To carry out this work, we plan to create two task forces: one to examine academic programs and another to examine support functions. The academic task force will consist of faculty and department chairs. The support task force will be staffed by academic and administrative managers, faculty, and staff. Approximately 25-35 members will serve on each task force. We will establish a formal nomination process for each task force that will incorporate input from Directors, Deans and Vice-Presidents. That process will be communicated shortly. Once the task forces begin their work, they will manage the process, and Larry Goldstein will remain involved only as a resource.
It is important to note that the purpose of the task forces is to provide recommendations. Their reports will be made publicly available for review, after which the University's leadership will decide which recommendations to accept and implement, and on what timetable.
The respective task forces will develop the specific criteria and weighting for the program prioritization, which will inform resource allocation. The key governing assumptions that will drive the process will be developed by faculty and staff, who comprise the membership of the task forces.
The only stipulation is that the process be based on the following guiding principles:
First, the criteria must be holistic. That is, they must take into consideration the full range of assessment factors, including qualitative and quantitative, financial and non-financial, and any other relevant measures of value to the institution.
The second principle is that the criteria must result in a fair assessment of all programs. Although the differences among programs and support functions will result in some faring better on some criteria than others, the selection and weighting of criteria must ensure that no individual activities are unfairly treated in the process.
This is a major undertaking, and it will not be a one-time effort. As a part of this process, we will collect a tremendous amount of data and develop a database, which will be maintained and updated annually. This process, which will be transparent, will become a key element of our strategic planning and biennial budgeting process.
Anticipated Timeline and Sequence of Events:
- February 12-13, 2014 – Information/Data Gathering Sessions (facilitated by Larry Goldstein)
- February, 2014 – Formation of Task Forces
- March 4-7, 2014 – Task Force Training (facilitated by Larry Goldstein)
- March through November, 2014 – Task Force Work
- December, 2014 – Draft Findings Presented to the Coordinating Committee
- January, 2015 – Formal Presentation of Findings to the President and Executive Council
While we will seek to ensure that the task force participants bring perspectives from all sectors of the institution, it is critically important that everyone recognize that they will not be representing any individual unit or constituency. Rather, they will be asked to adopt a "trustee mentality." In other words, though they bring knowledge and experience shaped and informed by involvement in their unit or constituency, they must adopt an institutional perspective when they undertake this effort.
Again, we welcome the campus community's interest and involvement in this effort, and extend again an invitation to you all to attend one of the February 12-13 information sessions with Larry Goldstein. A detailed schedule of the meetings will appear shortly in the University Letter.
Robert O. Kelley