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10-year strategy plan for UNH gets revamped

By Cole Caviston, Staff Writer

A report was recently released detailing updates on the “UNH in 2020” Strategic Plan. 

Entitled “UNH in 2020, Version 2.0: Evolution and Advancement,” the revision is set to replace the older initiatives of the Strategic Plan. Additionally, it outlines new visions of how to implement progressive change across UNH campuses.

This is the latest in what has been an ongoing process that began in 2010, when it was announced that the university would be adopting a 10 year-Strategic Plan called “The University of New Hampshire in 2020” with the intention of shaping the future of the UNH educational model across its campuses.

In a five-year period, the plan has seen the successful implementations of several institutions, including the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, the UNH School of Law, and the launch of the Carsey School of Public Policy.

In his 2014 State of the University Address, President Mark Huddleston selected Provost Lisa MacFarlane and then-Vice President for Finance and Administration Dick Cannon to lead the process of “assessing and updating” the plan.

“A campus-wide strategic planning process, at any university, is an opportunity to look at what is happening both on campus and in the world around us,” said MacFarlane. “UNH in 2020 gave us an opportunity to craft a vision for how best to fulfill our mission and to plan holistically to achieve it.”

Christopher Clement, Cannon’s successor and the current vice president for finance and administration, says that his department has provided support the work academic affairs and other offices on campus identified in the plan.

According to Clement, the Strategic Plan acts as a standard for setting priorities across university departments. 

“The strategic plan guides everything we do as an institution and helps every office on campus to set its priorities, including where to direct spending and targeted energy,” Clement said. 

A strategic plan steering committee, composed of experienced committee members from the Durham, Manchester, and Concord campuses, was formed last spring to discuss and coordinate this process.

One of the committee’s first measures was to develop a survey questionnaire to asses the perception held about the Strategic Plan’s effects, which was taken from last July to September.

Professor Barbara White, the faculty director of the UNH Discovery Program, was charged by MacFarlane with chairing the steering committee and organizing the efforts for collecting information from within the UNH community.

“The data…was discussed at a subsequent steering committee meeting, and further information was gathered from key representatives from each college and unit,” White said. “The final draft was compiled following an open committee process of reviewing several drafts.”

The resulting survey found that only 15 percent of respondents were familiar with the elements of the Strategic Plan, with 63 percent being partially familiar and 22 percent not being familiar at all.

White says that the responses have been positive overall. This past week, about five people have provided feedback to the plan, while the UNH Retention and Recruitment Committee planning to send out a response.

The steering committee will review the feedback and decide whether to make any further editions into the drafted document.

A major change has been the changing of the driving priorities for the plan. The original “Five Requisites for Change” have now been replaced with the “Six Visions and Values” which places emphasis on “a culture of inclusion and diversity” and “a commitment to sustainability.”

“The original strategic plan guided our efforts to think about the critical elements necessary for higher education in the 21st century,” White said. “But the 21st century education is a shifting landscape mostly due to technology and its cascading effects over every single aspect of human life; the refresh reflects these changes, while also anticipating new ones not yet seen.”

The report concludes with three recommendations in “logical next steps” on this ongoing process.

The first is the establishment of a Strategic Plan assessment mechanism to determine the effectiveness of implementation.

The second is increasing and updating the technological infrastructure of the university.

The third is ensuring that responsibility-centered management units (RCMs) reference the revised plan.

The implementation of these recommendations is already underway. According to MacFarlane, the several colleges and other units on campus have been collaborating on identifying metrics and other measurements of success.

“We expect to put a system in place that will allow us to update regularly, and therefore track our success over time,” MacFarlane said.

There have also been efforts at updating the campus technological infrastructure.

“We have made significant improvements to the technology infrastructure in the last 5 years,” MacFarlane said. “Of course, we’ll continue to make improvements as both technology advances and the demand for expanded service increases.”

In addition, Finance and Administration will be implementing a “Balanced Scorecard,” which is a performance metrics tool that connects objectives and strategy to outcomes as part of their strategic management process.

“We utilized the Balanced Scorecard at my previous employer, Heidelberg Manufacturing, and also at New Hampshire Department of Transportation,” Clement said.

There may be more revisions in the future, which MacFarlane feels would be appropriate as the university continues to transition.

“A strategic plan should be a living document, flexible enough to adapt to a changing environment,” she said.

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