Dear UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,
Since the pandemic began in March, a preponderance of our time as a University has been spent navigating the countless challenges that it has brought. As we approach the end of this semester, I think it is important to also think broadly about what we want to achieve together over the next 18 months. To that end, the Cabinet has created six strategic priorities for us to work on together. Each of the priorities will have members of Cabinet that are responsible for moving the initiative forward and they will be paired with faculty and staff to help ensure communication across the University.
The priorities are meant to guide our decisions, get us rowing in one general direction as a University, and to get momentum on issues that will determine our success for years to come. In the coming weeks and months, we will align resources to support these initiatives. I ask that each person, unit, and area on the campus make decisions that can advance these very broad and over-arching goals. By advancing each of these initiatives, I believe we will continue to place ourselves in a position of strength to move forward and build towards achieving the stated Mission and Vision of UW-Green Bay.
Improve Student Success and Retention
This priority will be led by Kate Burns, Corey King, and Janet Bonkowski. We did not add specific faculty and staff champions to this priority because student success and retention is the responsibility of every faculty and staff member at UW-Green Bay. It is my expectation that over the next 18 months that we will break down the silos of student success between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. It is essential that we align our efforts to support the whole student from their experience in the classroom to co-curricular activities, from our residential students to commuters, online students to those starting college at various stages of life, and to eliminate retention gaps between different constituencies. We must develop a modern advising system that honors faculty workload and still ensures guidance to students from faculty. The new system must wrap career guidance and academic advising from a professional advisor into a cohesive experience that is given to all students and not just those who seek it out on their own. Finally, we will create a unified and transparent method of offering scholarships and financial aid that follows best practices for the meaningful support of students, honors donor intent, and helps recruit and retain all students that attend UW-Green Bay.
This priority will be led by Corey King, Gail Sims-Aubert, Melissa Nash, and Stacie Christian. We will provide access and proper support for all of our students. It is my hope that inclusivity not be something that we work at, but rather be something that becomes inherently part of everything we do to support our faculty, staff, and students at UW-Green Bay. The steps we have taken this year that include University-Wide training on issues of inclusivity are the first steps in our journey. To achieve our access mission, inclusivity must be central to our ethos.
This priority will be led by Sheryl Van Gruensven, Paula Ganyard, and Susan Grant Robinson. I am asking you to take another step to advance our campus into a modern university that aligns with technologies of today and the expectations of the students we teach. That step is to embrace a culture of digital transformation. “Digital Transformation” refers to the evolution of an organization’s foundational business practices through the use of technology and data. Now, more than ever, we need to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent how we operate as a university. We must evaluate how, when, and where we are providing services to our students and to each other. Most importantly, we need to use data for informed decision-making in a highly competitive higher education landscape. Over the next several months, Paula and Susan will lead discussions with many of you about where we have opportunities to improve processes and the student experience, invest in new technologies, or maximize use of current systems to create a culture of continual improvement in the way we work. Such transformation will ultimately save time and create efficiencies so that faculty and staff are able to focus on mission critical work to improve the student experience. It is important to note that this priority will not result in the loss of jobs, but rather the ability to focus on higher-level and mission-aligned tasks, create work/life balance for faculty and staff, and help navigate the challenging budget realities for modern regional comprehensives. I have asked that an exhaustive list of opportunities, process changes, and technologies be presented to Cabinet by February. This information will allow Cabinet to prioritize and align resources that will accelerate our University’s digital transformation, and position us for future success.
Enhanced Community Connections and University Philanthropy
This priority will be led by Tony Werner and Ben Joniaux. We must tell the story of UW-Green Bay to the community that we serve and that supports us. This includes increasing the number of connections we have to our alumni, area businesses, community organizations, and the general public. We need to better articulate and demonstrate our value and the potential we have to better serve our community. This work will lead to greater philanthropic support that aligns with our mission.
Increase our Presence in Sustainability and Environmental Work
This priority will be led by Susan Grant Robinson, John Arendt, and David Voelker. We need to go back to our roots as the initial Eco U. This includes reaching a gold standard from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and increasing the amount of environmental research we do that can help our region. We should have pristine natural spaces and with UW-Green Bay hosting a new National Estuarine Research Reserve site, we have an opportunity to make a profound impact on the environment of our region.
Create a Sustainable Path Forward for Green Bay Athletics and the Weidner Center.
This priority will be led by Charles Guthrie, Kelli Strickland and myself. We are one of only three universities in the UW System with a Division I athletics program. We have one of the best facilities for the performing arts in our region and beyond with the Weidner Center. We need to capitalize on these resources to better engage our community, our students, and raise the profile of UW-Green Bay.
I believe in the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. We are positioned to make major strides with these initiatives and I thank you in advance for the part that each of you will play in moving us forward.