It is nice to have a full complement of staff, faculty and students back on campus as the beginning of the fall semester officially gets underway for what promises to be an exciting academic year.
Seeing the campus come to life, having the opportunity to greet students as they moved into the residence halls and attending events like Taste of UNC are just a few reasons why this ranks among my favorite — if not the favorite — time of the year.
Against the backdrop of this positive energy, we are in a great position to continue building on the momentum of what we set in motion last year. We will have plans to eliminate our structural deficit by the end of the year. We have worked hard to create a much more transparent environment with activities such as Budget 101 discussions and town halls. We also combined two divisions (Alumni and Development, and University Relations) into the division of University Advancement, re-established the division of Student Affairs, and are committed to improving our enrollment and student success efforts. Thank you for your hard work, diligence and commitment to UNC as we continue to accomplish significant milestones together.
Summer proved to be busy (and lots of fun). To hit a few of the high points, I visited an academy at the Tointon Institute and had the opportunity to meet a wonderful group of Colorado K-12 educational leaders — many of them UNC graduates. Kerry and I toured the Western Slope and met fellow presidents at Adams State, Fort Lewis and Western. We discussed opportunities to work together. I also presented to the Greeley City Council and Weld County Commissioners and had one-on-one meetings with legislators, Joint Budget Committee and Capital Development Committee members, and Colorado Department of Higher Education officials as we explore opportunities to further advance education in the state. This fall, I have more visits planned with Colorado State-Pueblo and the Colorado School of Mines as we continue to collaborate for the greater good.
On campus, we hosted a legislative wrap-up session with elected officials and government relations personnel, and we started implementing our Strategic Enrollment and Student Success (SESS) plan, led by Professor Joan Clinefelter and Interim Assistant Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Sean Broghammer. Action teams have been busy addressing “summer melt” in communication with students, improving processes for transfer students, and implementing a coaching and advising system for students at greatest risk of leaving. Thank you to Dr. Clinefelter, Dr. Broghammer, and all of the staff and faculty who have been working so hard on the SESS initiative.
Summertime provided opportunities for other activities, too. I enjoyed making Japanese poke bowls and recording the demonstration with Nutrition and Dietetics faculty, who chose this activity after being the highest bidder for my services during an auction to support CSC and PASC at last spring’s staff banquet. I attended my first Greeley Stampede and had a wonderful time taking in the parade (our volleyball team and Outdoor Pursuits office had floats), concerts (REO Speedwagon) and pro rodeo (yee-haw!). No summer is complete without requisite rounds of disc golf and spending time in the great outdoors. I tubed the Poudre River, fished several lakes, skydived with students, and hiked Greyrock and Horsetooth Rock. In a bittersweet moment last week, Kerry and I saw our son, Nick, off to college. I gained a new perspective into what parents and supporters experience dropping off their loved ones.
As we turn our attention to the fall, we will launch a major strategic planning process and continue to invest in activities that will better serve students and reduce costs. I will talk in greater detail about this at the annual State of the University address Sept. 10. I encourage you to participate in one of the open forums Provost Mark Anderson and I will host in September. Dates and times will be announced in UNC Today. This will be a collaborative effort. We want to know what you think our vision for UNC should be and where we want to be in both the near and long term. The desire for a clear identity and vision is something reaffirmed by our partners at Huron, who have provided information on our organization and structure. Last month, Huron surveyed about 600 employees about how they use their time — particularly in terms of how they support students — and also engaged about 150 people in interviews and focus groups. As we continue to work on the SESS plan this fall, we will dig into their findings and look for opportunities to address them as a campus.
Throughout the year, there will be multiple opportunities to provide feedback. Your involvement will be crucial to our success. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to a productive year!
Rowing, Not Drifting,