UM System's strategic plan draft involves collaboration among campuses

Monday, May 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:07 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 13, 2013

COLUMBIA — The four campuses in the University of Missouri System have until Thursday to respond to a draft of the system's strategic plan for the next five years.

At MU, versions of the draft have been circulating since December, MU Faculty Council chairman Harry Tyrer said. The system has been collaborating with campuses to generate ideas for the plan, but this is the first time the campuses have been asked to give formal feedback on specific proposed actions.

The actions include sharing faculty across campuses, opening a federal relations office in Washington, D.C., and creating a central bank that would be used to fund programs and other investments related to the system's strategic plan and those being created by each campus.

The goal of the UM System plan is to increase overall performance by 2018. The plan will shape decisions the system and campuses make for the next five years, including where money will be invested.

The UM System will use the feedback from the campuses to prioritize the actions and determine what will be done in the strategic plan's first year, said Nikki Krawitz, system vice president for finance and administration. Each campus can recommend that an action be taken sooner, taken at some point in the future or avoided altogether. Campuses also can recommend other actions.

The draft plan was addressed to chancellors and was more widely circulated to different interest groups on campuses such as the MU Faculty Council.

MU faculty members Pat Okker of the English Depatment and Tom Phillips of  the Division of Biological Sciences, who are working on the campus strategic plan, will compile MU's feedback and send it to the chancellor and provosts. They will deliver it to the system, Tyrer said.

The system and the campuses are working to reallocate money and resources internally to have money for priorities in the plans, Krawitz said. If the system receives additional funding from the state this year, system President Tim Wolfe will use these priorities to determine how much additional money each campus will receive.

Once the system's strategic plan is finalized, it will be achieved through three "themes": pushing system resources toward each campus' unique strengths, working with each campus to best use those resources and advocating for higher education in Missouri and nationwide.

The following are ways the system plans to accomplish each theme under the plan and some examples of specific actions the system wants to take.

System resources for campus strengths:

  • Collaborate with campuses to grow and strengthen its inter-campus online learning, called the eLearning Portal. Each campus has its own online class portal, such as Mizzou Online, but the system proposes publicizing and expanding course offerings on its central portal to give students more options.
  • Expand funding for research and economic development for programs such as the Interdisciplinary Intercampus Research Program. It funds research involving faculty from at least two UM System campuses.
  • Increase its presence in government. One proposed action is opening a University of Missouri Federal Relations Office in Washington, D.C.
  • Strengthen the system's employee management, including the creation of an online system to formally track faculty accomplishments.
  • Look for new sources of funding. Ideas include increasing research collaborations with industry and creating a central bank, which would be used as a resource for system and campus programs and other investments.

Campus, system collaboration:

  • Reward inter-campus partnerships that "decrease duplicative efforts in academic programs," the draft states. This could involve sharing faculty across system campuses.
  • Promote research and economic development through collaboration. The system suggested adding leadership to oversee large grant development.
  • Expand services the campuses share that involve standard procedures and efficient technology use. This could include streamlining system and campus human resources processes.
  • Provide opportunities for promoting good teaching and learning, integrating teaching and scholarship and getting funding for scholarships. The system proposed holding workshops about course redesign and technology.
  • Foster student advising and retention. The system has suggested using software to track student progress and holding a workshop on recruiting diverse students and faculty.

The draft includes more than 20 proposed actions to improve financial and human resource areas. They include changing retiree health benefits to reduce institution liability and increase value to more retirees.

In terms of information technology, the system proposes standardizing learning management. All four campuses use the Blackboard Learn learning management system, but selected groups on these campuses use other systems, Gary Allen, the system's vice president for information technology, said in an email.

To make the systemwide compliance program more efficient and effective, the system proposes making files sent to records management more accessible and cost-efficient, Krawitz said.

A third overarching theme addresses advocating for higher education across Missouri and across the country. On a state level, that includes a proposal to continue Wolfe's Show Me Value outreach campaign.

The system's strategic plan will be finalized by the UM System Board of Curators when it meets in June, when finalized campus strategic plans also will be presented.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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Ellis Smith May 13, 2013 | 6:28 a.m.

So, after 143 YEARS SINCE THIS UNIVERSITY WAS LAST A ONE-CAMPUS OPERATION we are going to make inter-campus cooperation an official part of operations?

Well I never! Tonight where I live it's supposed to be clear, so I'll be out looking intently towards the east: there's bound to be a large new star rising there.

You do realize that to make this a reality it will be necessary for UMC to admit that UMKC, UMSL and MS&T (which has been in business, under one name or another, for 143 years) actually exist. :)

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