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Steering Committee

Strategic Plan December 2022 Update


Committee Meeting Notes

Review of Survey Data

Andy Mauk provided a review of preliminary data from the UNCW Chancellor Search Feedback survey. This presentation was provided to the Chancellor Search Committee in December 2021, and Mauk gave an overview of the preliminary findings from the survey. A final report will be submitted to the Search Committee in late January, and the SDPSC will use much of the survey results to conduct an internal analysis regarding strengths and opportunities for the next strategic plan.

Review of Strategic Planning Internal Analysis Options

The SDPSC discussed a variety of strategic planning mechanisms that could be deployed to study UNCW’s internal and external environments. The committee reviewed the pros and cons of three planning tools: SWOT, PESTLE and SOAR. The committee preferred to explore the SOAR tool while still using the PESTLE and SWOT devices as framing mechanisms during upcoming workshops.

Review of Spring ’22 Activities

The committee reviewed the previously established timeline and determined that workshops in February and March would focus on UNCW’s internal and external environment. Activities include a review of the benchmark study data, a deep exploration of the survey data from the Chancellor Search Feedback instrument and several workshops geared toward identifying the top strengths and opportunities for UNCW. The committee set a goal to have elements of a SOAR analysis completed for a report to the new chancellor in May 2022.

Discussion on Strategic Planning Process

The SDPSC revisited the discussion from the previous meeting about the interconnectedness between the UNCW chancellor search process and the strategic planning process. The co-chairs provided an overview of a recent conversation with Chancellor Sartarelli on the process by which the SDPSC should continue, noting that the search process should take precedence for the institution.

The committee reviewed draft questions that could be useful for both the search committee and the strategic planning process and put forth a recommendation to the search committee for some minor revisions to a predeveloped survey that would gather elements important to an internal analysis about the institution.

The committee agreed to a parallel and iterative approach to data collection for the benchmark study and an internal “SWOT” analysis (or similar) that ultimately will be presented to a new chancellor.

Additional data elements from campus stakeholders may be gathered as the search proceeds and as the SDPSC reviews internal and national data that may require further clarification from the community.

Communications Strategy

The committee discussed some potential communications that will be sent to the campus community while also noting that these communications should not interfere with the chancellor search process. The strategic plan website has been updated with meeting summaries, and a new feedback survey is active.

Andrea Weaver has prepared a brief message that could be sent, but the message will wait until more clarity is provided on the search. Discussions also included elements of how to present data from the benchmark and “SWOT” analysis to campus. Potential solutions include a short report or executive summary with internal links to more detailed information for those interested.

Next Steps

The committee briefly discussed some benchmark data that has been collected by various members of the workgroups, noting that additional components are forthcoming. Members were asked to review the data being provided, while also contributing documents, articles and information that may be useful for the committee to review in terms of understanding the landscape of higher education and UNCW.

Discussion on Strategic Planning Activities

The SDPSC recapped the previous meeting’s discussions about the planning process in the wake of Chancellor Sartarelli’s retirement announcement. The committee discussed continuing with activities related to environmental scanning, literature review, peer benchmarking and the review of internal studies. The committee also discussed how to proceed with activities engaging stakeholders, such as campus fora, surveys, focus groups and workshops.

Given the context of the search process for the next chancellor, the committee agreed to continue to plan activities and have discussions while also attempting to align with other processes that may be forthcoming. The committee affirmed plans to engage in regular communication with the campus through the following:

    • Posting of committee meeting materials to the revised website
    • Sending regular communications through OUR and other channels
    • Developing other materials as needed to emphasize the work being done by the committee (e.g., videos, flyers, announcements, etc.)

Workgroup Breakout Sessions

The committee broke into two workgroups: a Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup and a Benchmarking Workgroup. Information on the breakout sessions is below.

  • Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup. This workgroup discussed some specific actions to be taken that will continuously engage our community. The workgroup determined that increased use of SWOOP and Staff Senate could be used to keep employees informed, while also engaging with SGA, ACE and Fraternity/Sorority Life to inform students of progress being made.

The committee discussed developing a survey research team from across campus to develop, launch and analyze data. A “suggestion box” survey was reviewed and finalized for launch on the revised website. The workgroup will discuss future activities pending actions related to the chancellor search process.

Benchmarking and Environmental Scan Workgroup. This workgroup further revised the list of variables that are to be studied, with consideration of additional variables that may be more salient in today’s higher education environment. Specific actions will be taken by workgroup members in respective area of expertise. The workgroup discussed how to collect, analyze and present these data in a manner that will be useful for the campus community and future leadership.

Strategic Planning Process Vis-à-vis New Chancellor Search

The SDPSC discussed the strategic planning process in the context of the retirement of Chancellor Sartarelli and the search for a new chancellor. The committee came to consensus that work on the strategic plan should continue in earnest, with the feeling that moving forward with our activities may provide useful input into the new chancellor search, as well as provide some stability during this time of change. However, the committee also recognized the need to leave room in the planning process for input from the new chancellor, who is expected to be identified by late spring 2022.

In practical terms, the committee felt that activities related to benchmarking, stakeholder engagement, visioning and establishing high-level priorities would be appropriate for the campus to continue. Specific planning elements such as development of metrics or resource decision making could wait until after a new chancellor is on board. Based on this and the workgroup conversations (see below), a new timeline will be developed and shared with the committee.

Workgroup Breakout Sessions

The committee broke into two workgroups: a Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup and a Benchmarking Workgroup. Information on the breakout sessions is below.

  • Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup. This workgroup discussed the needs and opportunities for appropriate stakeholder engagement as we begin the planning process. Ideas around focus groups, public forums, surveys, suggestion boxes, advertising, among others were discussed. The group was particularly interested in obtaining input from internal and external stakeholders.

The group also talked about the need to pull information from existing studies (e.g., our recent image study that helped inform our Like No Other campaign) to inform the strategic planning process. The workgroup identified lists of stakeholders, information needed to proceed with this work, other partners (on and off campus) who can help, and some general timing – all of which will be captured in a separate document or ‘scope of work’ for the group.

  • Benchmarking and Environmental Scan Workgroup. This workgroup discussed the previously disseminated list of variables from the 2003 Benchmark Study and began to identify areas that could be expanded and/or reexamined for an updated Study which emphasizes UNCW’s performance relative to its peers. The group also discussed collecting additional available datasets while also considering ways to analyze and interpret the data to better tell the institution’s impact on the local, regional and state levels.

The workgroup began to identify additional resources which inform the planning process on future trends, such as studies on national trends, regional and state reports, and existing data from local sources. Next steps involve finalizing the list of datasets and variables, identifying members of the campus community who may also have valuable information for the planning process and developing a delivery mechanism for the data to be shared with campus constituents.

Communication Plans

Andrea Weaver presented information and facilitated discussion on communications related to the existing strategic plan and the new strategic plan. The goal of these communications would be to recap the current plan through storytelling and visuals and to encourage participation in the next planning process.

The committee discussed different approaches to these communications and the importance of being authentic in how we talk about the last plan and our new one. Andrea also talked about other communication channels at our disposal for the new planning process, including the university homepage, strategic planning pages, SWOOP, the monthly newsletter from the Chancellor and other information channels.

Next Steps

The committee will continue to meet bi-weekly, although additional meetings will be needed for workgroups and sub-committees that form to engage in the work activities related to next steps. Some follow up activities include:

  • Co-chairs will review notes for the meeting and circulate to the committee for input; and then distribute these notes to the campus. The goal would be to have those notes distributed to campus by Friday, Oct. 15.
  • Co-chairs will process information collected from the workgroup meetings and map out a timeline for those activities to be shared with the committee for their input. The goal would be to have those timelines circulated by Friday, Oct. 15.

Committee Scope and Timeline

The SDPSC reconvened after the start of the semester and revisited the overall scope of the committee’s work and the estimated timeline of activities. Discussion focused on clarifying the role of the members of the committee, beginning to review existing data, and setting guideposts for activities throughout the year. The Committee reviewed the draft workflow document, commenting on the importance of engaging with campus constituencies.

Benchmark Study

The committee began a preliminary review of a new peer benchmark study as part of the environmental scan process. The last time UNCW conducted a large-scale peer study was in 2003, and the members discussed the merits of doing another one. It was generally agreed that after nearly two decades, it is appropriate to undergo a new benchmark study using the Official UNCW Peer List as approved by the Board of Governors in 2020, plus some additional select institutions.

The committee reviewed the set of variables from 2003, discussed some potential additions to address the growing research capacity and other metrics reflective of the current North Carolina System. The committee further discussed the need to examine the list more extensively to determine next steps

Next Steps

The committee agreed to the formation of two working groups to address next steps: Peer Benchmarking and Stakeholder Engagement. Members will self-select their preference for the workgroups, and more information will be forthcoming. The committee will continue to meet bi-weekly through the end of the semester, with additional sub-group meetings as needed. Additional involvement from campus stakeholders may be required for the workgroups. Some follow up activities include:

  • Members will submit their committee preference through a Qualtrics survey by Monday, Sept. 13. Assignments will be made thereafter by the co-chairs.
  • Co-chairs will discuss further revisions to the tentative timeline of activities with more guidance for the two workgroups that are being formed.

Committee Operating Guidelines

The SDPSC continued the discussion from the meeting on July 14 by finalizing the guiding principles for the members, establishing expectations, and committing to a set of operational ground rules.

Alignment Assessment

In preparation for the upcoming workshop by Society of College and University Planning (SCUP) on the design phase of strategic planning, the committee reviewed key findings from the Alignment Assessment. Discussion focused on areas related to understanding where different perspectives may converge and diverge. Members noted that each perspective is essential to this vital work and is committed to providing an open and inclusive environment for rigorous discourse.

Small Group Breakout – Review of UNCW Strategic Plan

The committee broke into small working teams to conduct an internal review of the existing strategic plan, looking for elements that should be considered for inclusion in the next plan, elements upon which there could be improvement, and areas which may be missing but salient as the institution moves forward. After small group work, the committee reported out findings, which were denoted and will be considered in future activities.

The committee found much to appreciate about the current strategic plan, noting areas that could be considered for adjustments in the next plan. The committee noted that the institution has made significant progress on many of the major metrics being tracked and appreciated the brevity in the marketing materials. Discussion centered on possible changes to the institution mission, vision and values.

Next Steps

The committee is scheduled for a two-day workshop with SCUP strategic planning experts on Aug. 4 and 5. Members were reminded to complete the respective pre-workshop activities. The co-chairs will begin scheduling regular biweekly meetings with the full committee at the start of the term.

Committee Charge

Chancellor Jose Sartarelli visited with the committee to formally charge the members with the task of writing a new strategic plan. The chancellor implored the committee to review the existing plan, look for areas which could continue and/or be improved, while also considering new context for the future. The chancellor emphasized the need to focus on diversity and inclusion, the research capacity of the institution, and the role of UNCW in the community.

Setting high-level priorities are a critical component, with specific strategies to address those priorities. The members asked questions of the chancellor relative to future needs of the state of North Carolina, the UNC System and of higher education in general.

Guiding Principles & Ground Rules

The committee engaged in a secondary round of discussion from the previous meeting about guiding principles and group expectations. The committee reviewed the initial draft document, made suggestions and improvements through a revision process. The committee emphasized the need for transparency, honesty, respect and grace while also being bold and nimble as the members engage in the strategic planning process.

Review of SCUP Integrated Planning

The committee discussed the Society of College and University Planning (SCUP) Foundations workshop on June 30, revisited key concepts and considered elements to take forward in our activities. Questions related to linking strategy to budget planning, the formation of metrics, and how to involve key stakeholders.

The members also reviewed data from a SCUP survey on the membership perception relative to our existing plan and what areas we may have for improvement. Key findings noted that the membership agreed with the culture of planning, while denoting that the respective members’ role within the institution may bring different perspectives relative to aspects of integrated planning. The committee used this discussion to further refine the readiness for change activity that will be important in the next SCUP workshop in August.

Review of UNCW Strategic Metrics

The committee engaged in a preliminary review of progress made on the existing UNCW strategic plan, noting areas of strengths and possible improvement. The committee felt that the institution had made notable progress in areas, including aspects of enrollment, student success, and facility expansion, and fundraising. The committee emphasized the need to include more focus on diversity, inclusion and equity efforts in the next strategic plan.

Next Steps

The committee is scheduled for another meeting on July 27 which will focus on preparation for the two-day workshop from SCUP strategic planning experts on August 4 and 5. The members are to take a short assessment about planning alignment before the meeting, and results will be discussed at the next meeting.

Committee Introductions

The SDPSC met for the first meeting and engaged in an introductory session to introduce everyone and set some preliminary expectations. The co-chairs led a brief discussion on the role of the committee.

Strategic Planning Process Discussion

The co-chairs presented an overview of the strategic planning process, noting the history of the current strategic plan (formed in 2015-2016), the extension of the current plan through the end of spring 2022, and the process that led to this group. The co-chairs highlighted the identification of the leadership and the process by which members were selected for inclusion on this committee, noting that many others from campus faculty, staff and students will be included throughout the process.

Additional activities throughout the spring 2021 semester were noted by the co-chairs regarding the identification of “design-thinking” as a framework for the committee, as well as other discussions with experts in the field of strategic planning. Particular attention was given to the use of the Society of College and University Planning (SCUP) organization as a guide for the upcoming process.

Guiding Principles & Ground Rules

The committee undertook a brainstorming session to establish the ground rules by which the group would operate. This discussion was guided by three overarching questions: (1) How should the SDPSC conduct its work? (2) What are important considerations we should keep at the forefront of our minds when we meet, discuss, and debate our future? (3) What are the values that will drive us toward a new vision?

Committee members provided initial feedback on activities and principles which would be important for the committee to consider. The co-chairs committed to using these initial ideas and agreed to draft an initial statement of intent to serve as guiding principles. A review of that document will be scheduled at one of the meetings scheduled in July.

Next Steps

The committee is scheduled for an initial professional development workshop from SCUP strategic planning experts on June 30 which will focus on the foundations of integrated planning. Members were reminded to complete their pre-workshop activities prior to the session. Meetings scheduled in July were noted as well, with a follow-up two-day workshop from SCUP in early August.