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University of North Georgia forms strategic steering committee
New university to develop five-year plan
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University of North Georgia strategic planning town hall meetings

What: A series of town hall-style meetings to share information about the steering committee process with faculty, staff and students

Thursday: Noon to 1 p.m., Dahlonega campus — Hoag Auditorium

Oct. 22: 3-4 p.m., Oconee campus — Student Resource Center, room 522

Oct. 23: 3-4 p.m., Cumming campus — Room 125

Oct. 24: Noon to 1 p.m., Gainesville campus — Martha Nesbitt Building, room 3110A

More info:

University of North Georgia officials are forming a committee to outline what the institution will look like five years from now.

“As a new university, we need to develop a strategic plan for the institution that will take us into the future,” said Andrew Leavitt, vice president for university advancement.

"We need to know what the needs of the region are and how best the institution can respond to those needs over the next five years,” added Leavitt, the co-chairman of the strategic planning steering committee.

To determine those needs, a group of 60 to 70 people are being recruited to serve on the committee over the next few months. Currently, faculty and staff are in the process of nominating potential members.

Six students will also be a part of the process, said committee Chairman J.B. Sharma. Sharma is the assistant department head of physics.

“The student affairs office will be working up a process by which these six students will be chosen, and there will be some alternates as well,” he said.

Sharma said those students will serve as the “gateway” for the rest of the student population, getting a sense of student sentiments about the process and their desired direction for the university.

“There will be substantial involvement of the student body,” Sharma said.

Alumni and community members will also play a role, but not necessarily on the committee.

“I would say participation of the community and the alumni is absolutely essential,” Leavitt said. “We are going to develop ways to engage them in a more efficient way than meeting on a weekly basis.”

To get things started, there is a series of upcoming town hall meetings on each campus.

“One of the reasons why we want to visit all of the campuses to talk about the strategic plan is to really fulfill the promise of what a good strategic planning process is,” said Patricia Donat, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

“That’s to fully engage our campus community in that process. In order for us to really move forward effectively as an institution, we have to create a process that involves all of our campuses, the faculty, the staff, the students ... having conversations about our future and how we can best reach our potential.”

Sharma and Leavitt will report progress to Donat over the upcoming months.

Committee members will have their first meeting Nov. 1, with a plan expected to be distributed by the end of the spring 2014 term. The members will meet for a few hours on a weekly basis.

“Concurrently with the development of the strategic plan will be some work to develop an implementation plan that will go along with it,” Donat said.

“So we will want to identify the key performance indicators, the outcomes that we will want to be tracking, the budget implications for some of the objectives set forth in the plan, and the key administrative offices and other constituents who will be responsible for ensuring that the plan is implemented as intended.”

Both Leavitt and Sharma said the desired outcome is to unify the fledgling university, composed of the former Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University campuses. They merged in January 2013. The university is now in its first full academic year.

“Usually in academics we move forward with committees, discussion and consensus,” Sharma said. “It is very important to involve our entire campus community to develop a new vision for this brand new university.

“This new university brings with it traditions of two former institutions that were very excellent institutions in their own right,” he added.

“This is an opportunity for us to take the best of these former institutions and mold it into this larger university that can serve the needs of students in this area and provide an excellent education for all times to come.”

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