This upcoming Tuesday, September 25th, will be UST’s next “Conversation with the Community” in Jones Hall. My hope is that, as always, the forum will offer us a chance to have a vibrant dialogue around the topics that impact us all. To engage us as one community of Celts, working toward a common purpose.
One of the topics we will discuss is the status of the University’s integrated planning process, the Call Toward Tomorrow. My intent with this email is to provide you additional background information to inform our conversation next week, and to encourage you to attend and be an active participant at this important moment in our history.
Where We Started
In October of 2017, we began a journey together as a community, a journey known as the Call Toward Tomorrow. It was admittedly a difficult process when we got started, but by focusing first on our mission, Catholic identity and the greater purpose that we collectively serve, we found common ground to build upon. I want to thank you for what you have built; it is truly a beautiful vision of our shared destiny.
A picture of a campus brimming with students and equipped with state of the art facilities. They call us to a future where mission and community remain central, job satisfaction is paramount, the administration is efficient, curriculum is in line with student demand and innovation is learner-centered.
As the planning process unfolded, the already large Strategic Oversight Committee brought in even more Celts to form workgroups. In April of 2018, those workgroups were each charged with focusing on 1 of 5 priorities, and with setting goals to address how we would achieve our potential in the next five years. Those goals and recommendations, developed through dialogue and collaboration, paint a picture of a vibrant and thriving UST by 2023. A picture of a campus brimming with students and equipped with state of the art facilities. They call us to a future where mission and community remain central, job satisfaction is paramount, the administration is efficient, curriculum is in line with student demand and innovation is learner-centered. These are the dreams of our Celt community. As your president, this is a future that I am 100% behind. As for the Board of Directors, they approved the goals unanimously in June.
Where We Are Now
A look at the timeline on the new Call Toward Tomorrow web page shows us how far we’ve come, but much hard work is ahead. Now that we have visualized what success looks like for the University of St. Thomas, how do we get there? Dreams are great, but what about action? Who’s in charge of which initiatives? How do we measure these goals? What is the timeline? Where’s the accountability? These are the important questions, and the time has come for the rubber to meet the road.
The good news is that although we dreamed big, we also dreamed responsibly. Each workgroup was tasked with developing SMART goals; specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. When the workgroups completed their goals, they also created sub goals, a list of metrics that could potentially measure and facilitate the success of the goals. It is a lot of material, and it quickly became apparent that in order to give that material the attention it deserved, it required a project manager. I have recently introduced you to Faith Delehanty. With her abundance of experience, Faith has already begun the work of meeting with the chairs of the workgroups, identifying who is to be responsible for which goals, clarifying the metrics that will be used to measure success, and charting our next five years on a timeline. The supporting ideas will be shared with stakeholders as they are asked to form coalitions that will each take us down one of the many paths that will converge at our future.
I pray that Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge will guide us along the way.
What Happens Next?
What does this mean to you? It means that our work together has only just begun. Faith, and those that were suggested by the workgroups to be involved in the process, will be reaching out for help across our extended community. New committees and workgroups will be formed, updates on progress will be delivered to the community on a regular basis through our new and improved Call Toward Tomorrow webpage, and swift progress will be seen with regularity. We will insist on it. If you served on one of the workgroups, you are likely to be called to serve in additional capacities. If you did not serve on one of the workgroups, you are also likely to be called. Each of us, as Celts, should be on the lookout for opportunities to help carry UST forward toward our vision. Whether we are asked or not, we are called to lend our talents. This is an enormous undertaking, and it will take the combined intelligence and strength of the community to achieve. I pray that Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge will guide us along the way.
Already, I have seen great strides taken toward achieving the goals on a number of fronts. New opportunities for community engagement like Opening Day and the new Friday morning faculty and staff newsletter have emerged, and we have taken our first steps toward significant student growth by welcoming the largest freshman class in UST history this semester. This is only the beginning of a long road, but we are indeed off to a strong start.
I hope that you will take time to review the new Call Toward Tomorrow page, and the new material that has been added that captures the goals, sub-goals and metrics presented by the workgroups. I look forward to our discussion at the upcoming “Conversation With The Community” about the future of our university, as well as other important issues like compensation and our new UST model for innovation. Hope to see you there.
These are exciting times for all of us. Thank you for making UST what it is today, and what we collectively envisioned it to look like tomorrow.
With hope and joy,