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Phase I Key Actions and Tactics

UNC will continually identify new opportunities, key actions, and tactics that support the mission of the university and the academic success and personal growth of students. Because of this commitment to serving our students, UNC continuously looks for ways to also enrich the experiences for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and our extended community.

Diverse experiences, new programming, and engagement opportunities will be paramount to the work conducted throughout the next decade. UNC will progressively seek opportunities to demonstrate what a Students First university means today and into the future by implementing strategies that support everyone at the institution.

In support of Rowing, Not Drifting 2030, the university is committed to implementing the following Phase 1 key actions and tactics. Based on the collaborative nature of the strategic plan, additional key actions and tactics may be identified and completed by departments and individuals across the institution. UNC’s progress will be compiled and measured throughout the course of the strategic plan and each phase.

As an institution of higher education, I think it’s really important that we teach people how to have conversations around different or opposing views –– that’s part of how we’re going to grow as an institution. We are laying the necessary groundwork for keeping students first and helping all students feel welcome.”
–David Shimokawa, Graduate Student, Sports Administration, Director of Graduate Student Association

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1. Develop and implement a plan to ensure UNC is a student-ready university at all academic levels.

Student success is often connected to a student’s sense of belonging, their quality of engagement, and how it impacts their progress toward graduation. From the traditional academic setting to campus life and support services, UNC will better understand how students interact with university departments and programs and implement strategies focused on student growth, retention, and completion. 


  • Establish baseline data sources and needs related to the success and engagement of undergraduate and graduate students at UNC
  • Analyze data to determine specific student engagement and academic success outcomes
  • Share data with the university community in order to develop Students First action plans at the academic department level
  • Develop strategies for soliciting input from undergraduate and graduate students — including but not limited to surveys, student focus groups, regular engagement with student organizations — concerning policies and practices that support a Students First university

I’m the first person in my family to complete a college degree, let alone going to graduate school. At UNC, things really started to click for me in terms of what I was studying. And I think what really helped were the support systems that I had in place at UNC through programs like Stryker, the McNair Scholars Program, and my department of study — Africana Studies.
–Jenaya McGowan Zarrad ’08

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2. Complete the discovery phase of the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) 2025 plan.

As the demographics of Colorado and the UNC student population change over the next decade, the university must take an intentional approach to becoming the first research university in Colorado to obtain the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation. By working to secure this designation, UNC will establish structures and practices that enhance and expand the opportunities for Latinx students that also enrich the experiences of everyone at the university. Research shows that enhanced engagement leads to a student’s sense of belonging and contributes to improved academic success, and higher retention and graduation rates. 


  • Facilitate exploratory conversations with UNC’s diverse stakeholders to gain insight and perspective to inform the HSI 2025 plan
  • Develop goals and create implementation and assessment strategies that integrate the HSI 2025 plan across the university’s operations
  • Raise awareness through internal and external engagement efforts by showcasing how the HSI designation will enhance the learning outcomes and experiences for everyone at the institution. These efforts will place UNC on the path to becoming the first research university in Colorado to obtain HSI status

UNC’s commitment as an HSI is truly to serve Latinx and non-Latinx students by significantly infusing culturally relevant pedagogy in curricular and co-curricular learning and engagement environments. We will work across cultures and communities as it will be an integral part of every students’ experience.
Katrina Rodriguez, former Vice President of Student Affairs

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3. Create systems of accountability, effectiveness, and collaboration to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion across the university.

To foster a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment, UNC will develop systems of accountability that will enhance the institution’s overall culture. Focus will be placed on equitable hiring and retention practices of diverse faculty and staff; racial and gender disparities; inclusive programming, policies, and procedures; and the university’s climate. Accountability standards will nurture and support equitable outcomes for everyone at UNC and reflect the changing demographics of the university’s students, faculty, and staff so that everyone can learn from and support each other. 


  • Require that all search committees complete training on equitable hiring practices, including ways to improve the diversity of hiring pools
  • Establish practices that regularly show the demographics of new and current employees, and document the hiring and retention efforts followed by the university
  • Publish a formal statement on respectful behavior to lay the foundation to establish a culture of trust, support, respect, and inclusivity
  • Develop metrics, measures, processes, and standards of conduct embedded in personnel evaluation for all faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Implement the diversity, equity, and inclusion measurements and processes that were developed as a result of the new systems of accountability

Equity-minded practices lie at the center of our work and must be embedded in the university’s mission. To build an equity culture, we must call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes and be willing to take personal and institutional responsibility for our students’ success. We’ve developed community principles, as values, as a way to have action-oriented and aspirational discussions with equity in mind.
Tobias Guzmán, Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

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4. Establish an infrastructure and set a foundation for a supportive culture of career-long professional development for staff and faculty.

UNC is a vibrant community in which students, faculty, and staff dedicate themselves to continued personal and professional life-long learning. The university will invest in its faculty and staff by providing ongoing professional development opportunities that help employees reach their career goals, expand knowledge, and enhance skills in several areas including, but not limited to: emerging academic technologies; management and leadership; engaged pedagogy; transdisciplinary research; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and educational entrepreneurship. These, and other opportunities as identified, will be made available as part of UNC’s commitment to foster a positive employee culture and provide support for our talented employees to grow as engaged community citizens, educators, scholars, mentors, advisors, and professionals so they can better serve our students. 


  • Develop a catalog of professional development opportunities for classified and exempt staff that will be maintained by the Office of Human Resources
  • Work with established faculty and staff governance groups to develop strategies that support staff and faculty in their careers
  • Establish a faculty advisory board to create a clearinghouse of all professional development currently offered on topics of instructional best practices, equitable teaching practices, engaged learning best practices, and online instruction best practices

Engaged employees are better connected to the mission of any organization. As an educational institution, it is important that we provide lifelong educational and training options to those who serve our institution and provide to them opportunities to grow and enhance their careers.
–Marshall Parks, Director of Human Resources


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5. Enhance and refine career readiness in the curriculum for all disciplines.

As part of the Students First mission, UNC will establish new ways to connect curriculum to career pathways. The university will further enhance career opportunities for students by combining career-specific learning and high-impact practices with a strong liberal arts core.

The university acknowledges that the academic and co-curricular experience is crucial in preparing students for their careers. As such, UNC will strive to increase career preparedness within curriculum and student service offerings. Access to career guidance, networking opportunities, and educational offerings for graduate and extended education are hallmarks of a university-wide career preparation readiness program. A focus on career preparation and growth affirms UNC’s lifelong commitment to its community of Bears. 


  • Highlight how a liberal arts curriculum helps students develop leadership and career skills that employers have identified as the keys to success. The university will communicate these attributes to students during the recruitment process and throughout their academic journey at the university
  • Map existing career-readiness initiatives and explore processes and best practices to ensure students can demonstrate their curricular and co-curricular learning outcomes
  • Engage in conversations about career readiness and curriculum across all academic units
  • Identify employment and career trends by engaging with alumni and business representatives through a newly formed Academic Affairs Advisory Board

Graduates of the University of Northern Colorado go on to do BIG things — leading companies, leading social change, and even leading major league baseball companies. With more than 136,000 living alumni making up a global Bear Network, we want to continue to be intentional in our efforts that tie curriculum to career paths that will help our students become the future leaders, change-makers, and innovators we need in the world.
-Lyndsey Crum, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations

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6. Develop a new university-wide data infrastructure focused on improving strategy, organizational effectiveness, and student success.

UNC is an evolving organization, able to adapt to the changing environment of higher education. Developing a consistent data infrastructure allows for organized and functional systems thinking to inform decision-making, problem-solving, and overall improvements in service to student success. 


  • Establish university data governance and usage standards
  • Create dashboards for academic monitoring of trends in majors, student credit hours, retention, four-year graduation, and six-year graduation with the ability to disaggregate
  • Integrate data training into chair and director workshops, and identify additional university-wide opportunities to better understand how to leverage data analytics in decision-making

Providing a consistent data infrastructure along with training will be an important aspect of how we grow as a university. Having a centralized source for data will allow us to create more efficiencies while ensuring that everyone is utilizing the most up-to-date information and processes to inform decisions.
-Brett Naber, Chief Information Officer


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7. Establish a robust infrastructure to support Research, Scholarship, and Creative Works (RSCW) that engages students and provides opportunities for faculty to contribute to the creation of new knowledge.

A strong commitment to Research, Scholarship, and Creative Works (RSCW) is a hallmark of a research university. These activities are crucial components of the faculty role, both for their own professional growth and because of the role they play in enhancing the student experience. Student collaboration with faculty in RSCW activity provides an engaging learning experience that reinforces, enhances, and integrates the student's learning beyond what can be accomplished solely in a classroom setting. It also creates new knowledge and keeps faculty current in their field while highlighting their expertise, which reflects positively on the university in numerous ways. 


  • Establish support systems for RSCW at the university and college level such as new and existing internal grants
  • Establish workload practices across all colleges that are equitable while also allowing for differentiated workloads
  • The  Office of Research and Sponsored Program (ORSP) will establish faculty grant writing workshops focused on multiple funding sources for different disciplines
  • Exceed $5 million in annual research expenditures in support of achieving Carnegie R2 Classification, and establish research goals and grant activity for each academic unit

Dr. Andrea James has been one of the biggest influences on me in my undergraduate work. She specifically worked with me on my research and helped me with not only the graduate process, but also understanding what graduate school is going to be like and giving me tips for my interviews, just trying to make sure I’m successful.”
-Brandon Selz ’20

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8. Develop and deploy a consistent and constructive process of evaluating and rewarding employee performance while also fostering varied opportunities for feedback and growth outside of the traditional supervisor-employee dynamic.

Attracting and retaining high-quality faculty and staff allows UNC to provide uninterrupted and consistently exceptional services and experiences to the university community. An essential aspect of fostering a high-quality and rewarding work environment is ensuring that employees know what is expected of them and that they are given the opportunity to grow. By regularly conducting meetings and consistently evaluating employee performance, supervisors can gauge their employees' needs, provide appropriate support, and share feedback. By holding supervisors accountable for the timely completion of evaluations, UNC ensures that employee development and support remain a priority. A focus on establishing core values, collaboration, communication, and an inclusive work environment is tantamount to creating a positive and supportive workplace culture. 


  • Establish a compensation plan for staff and faculty
  • Adopt and implement new employee performance and evaluation processes

An intentional focus on the well-being of our faculty and staff fosters a rewarding and healthy work environment that supports the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Along with equitable and effective evaluation practices, a compensation plan is how we attract and retain high-quality employees who will keep students first in their work. At the end of the day, our UNC students are the reason we do our work.
-Bryson Kelly, Assistant Director of Recruitment

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9. Develop and begin implementation of a data-driven strategic marketing and communications plan that showcases the university's important role on a local, regional, state, and national basis.

A strong marketing and communications plan is critical to the university’s prosperity. Such a plan positions UNC as a first-choice place to study, work, and engage. The marketing and communications plan will clarify our identity and highlight: (1) The value of a UNC degree for prospective students, current students, and alumni alike, (2) that UNC’s diverse alumni and students are leaders who are on the front lines solving problems, (3) the powerful impact UNC has on the community, region, state, and nation, and (4) the vital partnership between UNC and Greeley. 


  • Conduct an analysis of past marketing efforts in order to prepare for quantitative and qualitative research with stakeholders that identify or reinforce competitive positioning.
  • Evaluate and develop key messaging based on research findings.
  • Develop and implement a public relations strategy in order to showcase the expertise of UNC faculty and highlight students, staff, alumni, and community partnerships.

“Developing a plan to strategically market the universityis paramount to attracting and retaining students. It provides us the opportunity to showcase our inspiring students and alumni, our expansive academic programs, and our faculty experts in consistent ways that will create more awareness about UNC on a local, regional, and national basis, which will ultimately support enrollment growth.”
-Kim Medina, former Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management

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10. Implement UNC’s Rowing, Not Drifting 2030 Campaign, including the creation of philanthropic investment opportunities, community engagement and fundraising goals, feasibility study, and timeline for all campaign phases.

UNC will launch a comprehensive campaign centered around the expanded vision of the university focused on special fundraising and engagement efforts. These efforts will provide additional support to the institution’s students, faculty, and staff in meaningful ways, such as new programs, capital improvements, scholarships, co-curricular experiences, career support, and mentorships. By expanding our relationships with alumni and friends, and developing a culture of philanthropy internally, UNC can secure the investments necessary to realize the vision set forward in the Rowing, Not Drifting 2030 strategic plan. 


  • Work with students, faculty, and staff from throughout the university to identify and prioritize investment opportunities in support of Rowing, Not Drifting 2030.
  • Set fundraising and engagement goals for the campaign based on needs and priorities articulated by campus leaders
  • Finalize a timeline for all phases of the campaign from planning through conclusion
  • Launch feasibility study with UNC donors and alumni to test and finalize campus needs and campaign priorities
  • Partner with faculty, staff, and students from across campus to engage them in the planning and execution of the comprehensive campaign in meaningful and helpful ways

We believe in education. It’s really important to us to pass on the ability for people to go to school, and to impact their future students in our society. Our community is better because people give and we want to make UNC a place for people to come and learn.
- John W. '86 and Delia '90 Haefeli