As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to evolve last spring, University President Joan Gabel established two systemwide groups tasked with considering how to advance the University’s mission during and after the pandemic. After hearing recommendations from the group devoted to financial and operational considerations at its June meeting, the Board of Regents Mission Fulfillment Committee will receive the recommendations of the Academic and Research Planning Work Group during its October meeting next week.
The group’s co-chairs, Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson and Vice President for Research Chris Cramer, will outline a variety of recommendations addressing four core questions posed to the work group when it was formed. Generally, those questions focused on:
- How the University could ensure its core, mission-focused work endured the challenges posed by the pandemic;
- Steps the University might take in its pricing, content and modality of offerings to continue to attract top students;
- Criteria for pausing, ending, accelerating current programs, or launching new programs to maintain academic and research strengths, and;
- Increasing emphasis on the University’s research distinction, focusing particularly on the MNtersections included in the University’s five-year systemwide strategic plan, MPact 2025.
In response to its charge, the work group provided more than 50 specific recommendations. Many of these recommendations connect directly to commitments, goals and actions outlined in MPact 2025. This connection was intentional; the work group directly considered how its recommendations could meet, accelerate and prioritize items outlined in the strategic plan.
In addition, the work group report reflects its careful consideration of how to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and social and racial justice in its work, asserting that “we must elevate our efforts toward creating diverse, welcoming and just campus communities.” The report discusses the group’s acute awareness of declining resources and how financial challenges may shape the implementation of any of its recommendations in unforeseen ways. It also acknowledges that financial or other resource restrictions can be a catalyst for new thinking and innovative approaches.
Established last April, the work group included student, faculty and administrative voices from multiple University campuses, and its work involved wide consultation with University Senate governance committees, chancellors, deans, department chairs, faculty, staff, students and others.
As part of its October meetings, the Board is also expected to:
- Act on the proposed discontinuation of four Gopher Athletics programs.
- Hear updates from leaders on each of the University’s five campuses on their strategic enrollment work, which is guided by campus enrollment management plans endorsed by the Board in 2016 (Twin Cities campus) and 2019 (Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester campuses).
- Act on Gabel’s recommended biennial budget request to the State of Minnesota for the University’s 2022 and 2023 fiscal years.
- Act on Gabel’s recommended six-year capital plan and 2021 state capital request.
- Receive an update on how COVID-19 has affected the University’s finances.
- Act on a proposed fundraising agreement between M Health Fairview and the University of Minnesota Foundation.
- Discuss potential measures for the University Progress Card, a tool used to drive performance and set clear targets for measuring success and enabling oversight of aspirational goals set by the Board and the University’s administration.
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