April 25, 2014

Strategic Resource Allocation Update

As the fall 2012 semester draws to a close, I want to provide you with more information about the Strategic Resource Allocation process that I’ve announced. This process will begin early in the new year and continue into the fall of 2013. As I had noted at the opening meeting of the faculty last August, I believe that it is essential to begin this exercise now as the next step in advancing UMW’s position among the region’s  and nation’s outstanding public liberal arts and sciences institutions. It is this fundamental commitment to excellence and continuous improvement that defines Mary Washington and drives the Strategic Resource Allocation process.

Understand that UMW is not facing a state of financial exigency. While budgets are tight, we have all worked together to maximize efficiency, and for that, I am most grateful for your extraordinary commitment to this remarkable institution.  However, in the current economic climate, two of our primary sources of revenue, state support and tuition increases, will be very limited, going forward.  A third potential source of new revenue, increasing undergraduate enrollment, presents challenges and practical limitations as well. Thus, we can expect very limited new funds from these traditional revenue sources.

I am convinced that, in order to move the institution forward, we must take steps now to make UMW more distinctive through strategic investment in existing programs and/or the creation of new ones that increase our competitiveness. We must look internally for the resources to make these changes.  Failing to do so virtually guarantees a continued decline in our ability to recruit and retain the very best faculty and students.

Last week, Larry Goldstein, president of Campus Strategies, LLC, spent a full day on campus conferring with several groups of faculty and administrators. He was here at my invitation to assist in the development of a framework for the analysis.  I am pleased to share with you the broad outline of that framework.

First and foremost, Mr. Goldstein will be serving in the role of facilitator, to provide expertise in setting up a process that will work best within the context of the University of Mary Washington.  While Mr. Goldstein is a nationally-recognized leader in this area, having worked with more than 200 colleges and universities in similar studies, each process is unique and is designed by the particular institution.  I emphasize that we are in full control of our study and that UMW, with Larry’s assistance, will be establishing a process that is respectful of our culture and unique to our own situation.

The Strategic Resource Allocation process will be coordinated by Ian Newbould, Interim Provost, and Rick Pearce, Vice President for Administration and Finance.  As coordinators, they will serve as the official external spokespersons for this project, but will not participate in any deliberations.  The work of the study will be conducted by two task forces:  one to examine academic programs and another to examine all support programs.

The academic task force will be comprised exclusively of teaching faculty. I believe that it is most appropriate for the faculty to examine and make recommendations regarding the future directions of the academic programs at the University.  I am working with the University Faculty Council on the best manner in which to make the appointments of faculty to this task force.  It is imperative that the individuals asked to serve will not be representing any individual unit, discipline, or constituency, but rather they will bring to the deliberations a broad, open-minded view and an institutional perspective.

The support programs task force also will be broadly constituted.  While it will include members of the teaching faculty, the largest share of members will come from administrative areas.  If feasible given the anticipated workload of the task force, I also hope to have a student member of this task force.  Again, we will be seeking individuals who understand the broad needs of the University, and appreciate the goals of the Strategic Resource Reallocation process.

Both task forces will receive an appropriate level of administrative and logistical support to support their program reviews.  Additionally, they will rely on advice from Larry Goldstein, who will serve as a facilitator to assist with the work of the groups. It is important to note that the task forces will be charged with making recommendations, but not with responsibility for implementation. There will be a deliberative process for the review of the final reports, which will be made publically available upon completion.  Ultimately it will be my responsibility as President, as charged by the Board of Visitors, to determine which recommendations to accept and to establish the timetable for implementation.

Although the specific assessment criteria and weighting factors will be developed by the respective task forces, their charges will contain the following essential elements:

First, the criteria must be holistic.  That is, they must take into consideration the full gamut of assessment factors including qualitative and quantitative, financial and nonfinancial, and any other relevant measures of performance.

Second, the criteria must result in a fair assessment of all programs. Although the differences among programs will result in some programs faring better on some criteria than others, the selection and weighting of criteria must ensure that no individual program is unfairly treated in the process.

It is my expectation that this will become a discipline that is used periodically by the University to revisit institutional priorities.  Within this process we must also provide a means for bringing forward new program proposals. I am receptive to suggestions about this important aspect of our study.

I know the task before us is challenging and that it will require patience, trust, and a spirit of cooperation from all segments of the University community.  However, in order for UMW to achieve and sustain a position of preeminence among the nation’s public liberal arts institutions, I believe this effort is necessary.  I have no preconceived ideas about the outcomes or recommendations that will emerge from the process.  Instead, I have confidence in the validity of the undertaking and the quality of work anticipated from all participants.  I am confident that we will emerge from this process as a stronger institution.

From President Richard V. Hurley

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.

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