Strategic Planning Committee begins its work

The North Dakota State University Strategic Planning Committee has begun its work to define the institution’s outstanding programs as the campus prepares for the future. The group’s initial meeting was March 18.

The group’s goal is to provide criteria to identify academic and research programs that are at or near nationally, if not internationally, recognized status. These programs will be tabbed for future enhancement funding, when it becomes available.

“We are at an exciting point,” NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani told the committee, which includes 20 members from across campus and six ex-officio members who serve in an advisory capacity.

Bresciani expressed confidence the university will receive additional funding and support in the future, and the committee’s work will play a significant role. “When we get resources, this strategic planning process will be important for an immediate turnaround,” he said. “We’ll be able to act quickly and the university will flourish as a result.”

Marie Hvidsten, rural leadership specialist and Rural Leadership North Dakota program director with the NDSU Extension Service, serves as committee facilitator. She led the group through a process called “appreciative inquiry,” as characteristics of current excellent programs were examined and dreams for the future explored.

“What are the attributes of excellence?” Hvidsten asked committee members. “Look for the best of the best in NDSU’s academic and research programs. What makes them a step above?”

Through a three-hour process of small- and large-group discussions, a general picture of possible parameters for excellence emerged.

The committee said necessities include state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure, with outstanding faculty and students. Members said excellent programs require uniqueness, focus, innovation, exceptional student opportunities and ample start-up funding, while meeting real needs. Other suggestions called for nationally recognized inter-disciplinary programs that work in collaboration with other universities.

“This was thoughtful and thought-provoking meeting. I saw a lot of great ideas,” Hvidsten, who will prepare a detailed report outlining the material discussed at the meeting. “That document will help us understand what was said today, and then we will next need to prioritize, to decide what is most important.”

The committee is expected to meet again before the suggested list of criteria is forwarded to President Bresciani by April 29. During the summer, the criteria will be provided to administrators of NDSU’s academic and research areas for the solicitation of a “Top 10” set of executive briefing proposals for potential funding, if investment resources become available.

Hvidsten’s report on the committee meeting is expected to be available for viewing by March 25 at www.ndsu.edu/president/strategic_planning.

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