A final proposal has been presented as the University of North Georgia’s first strategic plan to unify the four campuses and broaden the institution’s appeal.
Along with planning committee Chairman J.B. Sharma, Vice President of University Advancement Andrew Leavitt has led a committee in developing this strategic plan since November. The process included multiple meetings, both internally and in town hall meetings at the various campuses and online to include community members and alumni from the former North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College.
“This was input we got from our external constituents and our internal constituents to help us arrive to all of these objectives and strategies,” Leavitt said.
The final strategic plan lists four goals:
- Promote academic excellence and innovation;
- Enhance leadership and development of the whole person;
- Expand engagement and educational opportunity; and
- Build campus identity and institutional unity.
“We always considered all goals to be equal,” Leavitt said, adding the goals were placed in that order because people wanted more emphasis on academics. “I think that really speaks to the professionalism of the faculty and the staff, that first and foremost it’s about the students. So having excellence in academic success is the No. 1 priority.”
Those goals are then broken into objectives and strategies. For example, objectives under the first goal of promoting academic excellence include emphasizing globalization and more international experiences, providing for professional development among faculty and providing a diversified academic environment.
Gainesville’s Ric Kabat worked on identifying strategies and objectives under the goal of building campus identity.
“That goal essentially was to create a new university with multiple campuses, that’s committed to academic excellence,” he said. “And to promote efficiency and transparency and a shared governance model.”
Kabat, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters on the Gainesville campus, said there were no real surprise outcomes from the planning process.
“Basically, these were issues people were aware of,” he said. “What we were able to do is bring a kind of focus on those issues and put them together and provide a framework for the implementation committee to begin implementing those ideas.”
From here, the move is toward implementation, which falls under Provost Patricia Donat’s territory. Donat, also senior vice president for academic affairs, plans to put the plan into a publication for dissemination.
“The other primary task will be pulling together a small implementation team that will identify the responsible units and key administrators for following through on components of the plan,” she said.
Some of the goals and their corresponding objectives and strategies require more detailed plans, so that will be another step.
“That will list some of the specific tasks that are going to be required in support of the larger strategic plan,” she said. “And we’ll also start moving toward developing a comprehensive academic and facilities master plan so that we know the academic programs, faculty, staff and physical spaces that will be required in order to realize the vision that’s set forth in the plan.”
The University of North Georgia was formed in January 2013 by combining the former Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University.
This initial strategic plan is set to carry the university forward in the merger, which has brought together four campuses with varied backgrounds.
“Part of the process was to bring people from all the campuses together and kind of understand the different needs of the campuses and their particular identities,” Kabat said. “We’re trying to essentially understand that and their roles in their local communities while at the same time linking them together in a common academic plan.”
Overall, university officials said they are pleased with how the process worked.
“We ran what we believe to be a very open and transparent and fair process,” Leavitt said. “That was very important. We got the charge from the president. She said, ‘Don’t let it ever be said that someone didn’t have an opportunity for input.’ And so, that’s something that we took to heart and I think we successfully accomplished that objective.”
The entire plan, along with posts from throughout the process, can be viewed online at blog.ung.edu/astrategicplanning.