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As Implemented: September 2001 — May 2002

I. Introduction

  Bullet The University has undergone substantial changes in its senior leadership over the past year (2001). Deans in several schools, Vice Presidents in the Health System and in Student Affairs, the Chancellor at the University’s College at Wise, and perhaps most importantly, the Provost, have departed and many of their successors have recently assumed their posts. Because of these leadership changes, the Provost is especially interested in gathering the University’s most thoughtful leaders for a program of internal visioning.

University Envision - Proposal

  a. Purpose/Goal
    Bullet Gene Block, the Vice President and Provost, along with Bob Sweeney, Senior Vice President for Development and Public Affairs, propose a program to be called "University Envision." The purpose of University Envision is to provide a forum for University deans and their most engaged faculty members and administrators to discuss the defining elements of each school, as well as their expectations for each school and for the institution. As it is conducted in each school, the program will be called "Envision [school name]" (for example, "Envision McIntire") to emphasize the school or unit-based nature of the program.
    Bullet University Envision will allow specific school-based groups to comment broadly on the direction of their individual schools and how the schools might influence and support a vision for the whole institution. Once individual school sessions have been held, the deans will meet with the Provost to conduct a similar session. This will allow the deans, Provost and other University leaders to better understand how the individual schools’ aspirations differ or dovetail, and to apply these aspirations to the University as a whole.
  b. Planning Processes
    Bullet The University Envision program will also serve the additional purpose of preparing the schools to address the three-year planning process, announced by the President in his April 2001 State of the University address. The three-year planning process is proposed to begin in January 2002, with school plans to be developed tentatively by December of that year. This visioning program will help set the stage for the deans in formulating specific strategic goals for their schools.
  c. Design
    Bullet In order to achieve the goal of a productive visioning process, it is critical that the deans and others in each school have an opportunity to think about the schools’ future in an open, reflective, high trust and low risk environment. The emphasis in the sessions will be on open discussion among the faculty, administrators and deans, with the Provost in a listening position. The following format is proposed to create this environment.


  a. Pre-session preparation
    Bullet A brief information packet will be prepared and sent to participants before each session, in order to provide a set of planning assumptions as a common understanding and starting point for the discussions.
    Bullet The packet may have information relative both to the University as a whole and to the individual school, including data on enrollment, budget, facilities, fund-raising, demographics, etc.
    Bullet While participants may wish to comment on the data or to introduce additional information to supplement or respond to the data packet, the session is not meant to be an opportunity to showcase at length the strengths/weaknesses of the school, although this may be one topic of discussion.
  b. Session
    Bullet The dean will convene a group of 15-20 of the school’s most thoughtful and influential faculty members and administrators to discuss the school’s goals and aspirations for the future. It is proposed that the chief communication officer and the chief development officer from that school also be present as stakeholders in the discussion.
    Bullet Because the purpose of the sessions will be to understand the thoughts and opinions of the participants, and not to dictate a predetermined school or institutional vision, the deans are asked to listen and contribute as they choose.
    Bullet The session will run approximately three hours (i.e., a morning or an afternoon), and will be facilitated by an independent professional who is well-acquainted with the University.
    Bullet The Provost will be present in each session, primarily to listen and learn, but also to offer comments, as needed, on overall University direction.
    Bullet Other institutional stakeholders also may be present in a listening role: the Senior Vice President for Development and Public Affairs, and his chief communication officer (for development purposes); and the Chief Planning Officer.
    Bullet Others who will be invited to sit in as observers include: the Vice President for Research and Public Service, and the deans of each school.

While a fundamental set of questions will be used to stimulate the visioning process in each school (see below), each dean will have the opportunity to suggest questions appropriate to a specific school.

  c. Proposed Questions
    Bullet Questions for the sessions might fall under the following headings: defining elements; challenges; visioning. These questions are suggested as preliminary questions; it is expected that the issues will vary from school to school, and that certain topics will be probed more deeply as appropriate in each session.
      1. Defining elements
        Bullet When you hear others describe the strengths of the School, what do they say?
        Bullet How would a new faculty member describe the culture of the School? How do you describe it?
        Bullet What are the most important issues facing the School now (or in the next 3-5 years)?
        Bullet What is at the "core" of the School that is so essential to its mission or identity that it should always be protected? And, what should always be open to change?
      2. Visioning
        Bullet What are the "headlines" (accomplishments) you would like to see regarding the School in the next 3-5 years?
        Bullet What’s going on in the School’s environment that could help the School achieve those?
        Bullet What are the challenges/threats to the School that could make it difficult to achieve them?
        Bullet Does the School have specific goals for the next 3-5 years? For the coming year? If yes, what are they?
      3. Other Issues
        Bullet Looking down the road, what is your greatest concern regarding the School? The University?
        Bullet What are the key strategies for moving the School toward your hopes (and avoiding the major threats)?
        Bullet What haven’t we asked that we should be asking?
  d. Post-session follow-up
    Bullet A scribe will be used to make a record of the discussion in each session. The discussion notes will be reviewed by the participants after the session, for accuracy and the "sense" of the group.
    Bullet The information from the school sessions will be distributed to all the deans for use in a session to be held with the Provost on overall institutional direction.
    Bullet The feedback from all the University Envision sessions will be used to:
      Bullet help modify the proposed Virginia 2020 short-term goals and actions;
      Bullet shape institutional direction in areas that are not covered under the four Virginia 2020 areas;
      Bullet begin preparations for the three-year planning process;
      Bullet provide a common understanding about school aspirations in order to better communicate with external constituencies.



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Last Modified: Thursday, 16-Feb-2006 08:37:34 EST
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