| 03.17.2018

Mapping the future of UI – University officials work to develop strategic plan


Constructing a document designed to guide the University of Idaho for the next 10 years is a great task, but one that is necessary, according to Mary Kay McFadden, vice president of University Advancement.

“If you want to have an ambitious and achieving organization, then you have to have a strategic plan and a direction,” McFadden said. “It”s about taking charge and bringing people together to reach certain goals.”

Instead of a list of goals, the strategic plan should be a living and breathing document that can guide faculty and staff, McFadden said.

UI”s previous strategic plan lasted from 2010 to 2015, which is why McFadden said the university needs to create a new plan that will likely last for the next 10 years.

Preparations for the new strategic plan began in September, when the four committees assigned to create the plan met to discuss aspirations of the university, McFadden said.

McFadden said around 30 to 40 faculty members have been a part of these committees.

On her committee, McFadden said she has been working to address diversity on campus.

“We want to recruit, attract and retain more diversity in our student body and faculty,” McFadden said.

McFadden said UI will likely address enrollment in the strategic plan.

“Right now Idaho is 50th out of 50 states in terms of kids that go on to college,” McFadden said. “We need to figure out how we can encourage students to come, because our future needs an educated population.”

There will be some similarities between this plan and the previous one, she said, such as increasing diversity.

Mcfadden said the committees are still at a stage of developing ideas and modifying the goals of the plan. Yet, the plan implementation is what McFadden said will define its success.

“What happens a lot of the time is universities will write a strategic plan, put it on a shelf and then people forget about it,” McFadden said. “The provost has plans for an implementation team to make sure we are following the plan and measuring the success of it.”

In an effort to gain feedback on the plan, John Wiencek, UI provost and executive vice president, hosted an open forum in the Idaho Commons on Friday to address concerns about the developing strategic plan. At the forum, Wiencek said the enactment of the plan is crucial in obtaining its goals.

“We have to admit where we are doing well and celebrate that, and also admit where we are struggling and determine where we are falling short so that we can learn from our failures,” Wiencek said.

The four main goals of the strategic plan are innovation, engagement, transformation and growth. Wiencek said the broad terms cover a wide range of issues, including increasing enrollment and ensuring UI staff members are paid at market level, which will help the university become more competitive.

Faculty and students can access the plan and provide input on a website called YellowDig underneath the Vandal Plans board. Ensuring that faculty and students voice their concerns about the new plan is a key element in engaging with the public, Wiencek said.

“We want to produce a document that reflects our broad constituency and create a document that we can all rally behind and use to push us forward,” Wiencek said.

Jessica Gee  can be reach at  arg-news@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @jaycgeek

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