Dear Colleagues,

One of the earliest themes to emerge when I arrived as UNC’s new president was a genuine desire for direction—for planning that would clearly articulate who we aspire to be and how we will get there. I had already committed to spend a considerable amount of time during my first year listening and learning, which I believed was crucial. I also knew that we needed to act quickly to address our $10 million structural deficit and hire a provost. So I promised then that we would come together as a campus this fall to articulate a vision for the future of UNC.

My year of listening and learning was incredibly valuable. Thank you to the many, many people who helped me with that. We also made great progress in addressing our structural deficit. We budgeted to spend just about $1 million from reserves this year, and even with opening day enrollment less than expected, reserve spending will be under $3 million. By July 2020, we will no longer be deficit spending. In April we were fortunate to welcome Dr. Mark Anderson as our new provost, and he has been moving at top speed. We are finally ready to plan, and I hope you are as excited about this as I am.

The President’s Leadership Council (PLC), which I convened last year and recently expanded, will serve as the planning steering committee. There will be opportunities to provide input—in person and through surveys. As a university community, we will develop a draft 10-year vision for UNC this fall and take it to the Board of Trustees in November. In the spring of 2020, we will develop draft goals for the Board to consider in June.

I have chosen to focus this year on our vision and goals rather than on the admittedly uninspiring language of our mission because you have expressed an urgent need for vision and action, and I agree. This process will both honor our historical mission and acknowledge that we have become much more. We may well need to revisit our mission when this work is done. Similarly, we may find it necessary to update the language of our university values.

The first step in this process will be a series of forums that the provost and I will facilitate in early September to discuss what UNC should aspire to be in 10 years. Earlier today you received an email invitation to register for one of four forums at the University Center for faculty and staff. There will also be an opportunity to provide feedback online. The PLC will use this information to draft our vision.

The PLC will share a draft vision with the campus in October, host a town hall and do another survey to see what you think. We will take a revised draft to the Board of Trustees in November.

In the spring, the PLC will form subgroups to write goals for each element of the vision—again inviting campus participation. We will share a draft with the campus in March, collect feedback, revise and take the draft goals to the Board to consider in June.

It is critical that the PLC hear as many voices as possible in this process, and I urge you to be involved. With your participation, we have a tremendous opportunity to do great things at UNC.

We have created a strategic planning website with detailed information about the planning process and timeline, past UNC planning, and important contextual data about UNC, state and national trends that affect our work. I encourage you to review these materials in preparation for the process.

It has been quite some time since I’ve been able to assign homework…It feels good.

Rowing, Not Drifting,


Andy Feinstein
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