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Campus Conversation

 

UNI Campus Conversation

2006 Report to Campus

May 1, 2006

Background:

 

A “Campus Conversation” involving all UNI employees and students was initiated in fall 2004 to respond to two related questions:

  • What makes UNI a great place to work? and
  • What would make it better?

President Koob qualified those questions with the statement:  “We are seeking answers to these questions which can be implemented to benefit not only individual employees, but can also contribute to the realization of UNI’s mission of offering a world class university education, providing personalized experiences, and a lifetime of opportunities to students and employees alike.”

 

The Campus Conversation was conducted under the auspices of the Campus Advisory Group, a group comprised of representatives of all campus governance groups, including faculty, professional & scientific staff, merit staff, and students, led by President Koob.  Input was sought via Web discussion and campus meetings.

 

In fall 2005, task forces were named and charged with studying and identifying solutions to 11 topics surfaced in the course of the conversation.  The task forces reported their results to the Campus Advisory Group in April 2006.  The Campus Advisory Group and the Cabinet support both continuing the Campus Conversation and also moving forward to implement task force recommendations in fall 2006

 

Focus the UNI Strategic Plan:

The task force reports affirmed that UNI is a fundamentally good place to work and that employees in all categories hold positive attitudes about the institution.  However, there remain areas where improvement can be made.  The work of the task forces revealed that while the institution has consistently had the will to address these issues, the institution needs a formal mechanism to make real progress.

 

Further, the task forces noted that their areas of study flowed naturally from the Values and Goals in the current UNI Strategic Plan.  Implementing recommended actions would focus institutional efforts and ensure achieving significant progress against the Strategic Plan, particularly with regard to the values of Excellence in all endeavors, Expansive awareness of multiple perspectives, and Appreciation of people with different backgrounds, and with regard to Goal 4 of the plan:  Promote a University culture characterized by diversity, collegiality, mutual respect, organizational effectiveness, and shared responsibility.

 

Four areas for improvement surfaced consistently throughout the task force reports:

  1. Leadership – establishing a common understanding of leadership as a relationship of influence not coercion and leadership acts as something all UNI employees can do; creating a vocabulary that encompasses and empowers all employees; providing education and skills training; ensuring accountability.
  2. Communication – surrounding major campus issues, enhancing the flow of information and seeking feedback, improving tools for all to use; building awareness of identified initiatives.
  3. Diversity – recognizing that diversity means appreciating the differences in all of us, creating even more opportunities for diverse exchanges
  4. Continuous Improvement – understanding that improving is everyone’s job and a cultural expectation.

Next Steps

The Campus Advisory Group with Cabinet endorsement agreed to move forward in fall 2006 with implementing recommended actions to address the four identified areas.

With the endorsement of the Cabinet, a summary report of the Campus Conversation was sent to the Board of Regents.

 

All task forces noted that for substantial progress to occur in any area there needs to be both leadership buy in as well as consistent leadership support.  Certainly leadership refers to the UNI administration (President and Cabinet), but just as significantly, it refers to leadership of the campus governance groups.

 

The Campus Advisory Group, including representatives of all campus governance groups, provides an excellent model upon which to build since it has been a highly functioning group over the past two years.  The group is therefore a logical beginning point for implementation. 

 

The Campus Advisory Group will be charged with the more formal responsibility of implementation in the fall, including but not limited to:

  • picking a protocol or template based on the input of the relevant task forces;
  • implementing an approach to permeate the campus on the identified topics, and
  • establishing a measurement matrix.

For any of these concepts to become embedded in the culture of the University, the vocabulary and way of operating need to be seen, understood, and used by everyone.

The task groups understand that penetration of successful protocols throughout the campus is necessary for the changes sought to be fully effective.  Such penetration is a long term effort requiring the ongoing support of campus leadership, and no doubt requiring many years to become fully adopted as UNI culture.

Executive Summaries of each task force report follow.

Four task forces addressed topics outside the areas noted above. The Campus Advisory Group resolved these as follows:

  • Faculty/Staff Gathering Place – Current budgetary circumstances do not support pursuing such a gathering place at this time.
  • Student Employment – Data on this topic were inconclusive.  Financial Aid and Student Services will continue to evaluate.
  • UNI-Community Connection – This subject will be referred to the Faculty Senate and potentially to United Faculty since actions in this recommendation may be subject to collective bargaining.

Perks – This topic is out of consideration due to collective bargaining restrictions.

 

 

May 5, 2006May 5, 2006