Message from University of Montana President Seth Bodnar – What should a flagship for America’s future look like?
I write with a comprehensive update on our shared progress and commitment to UM’s future. Below, you will find an invitation to join campus conversations as we design UM for tomorrow.
Last week, your UM leadership — including nearly 200 of your chair and director colleagues from across campus — gathered for a full-day session on UM’s progress and our collective roles in maintaining this momentum. The day was designed in a spirit of transparency and with the intent to invite more voices into our shared work.
In this same spirit, I write to provide you with a brief summary of our progress and to — more importantly — invite you to participate in the design of tomorrow’s UM. We have made steady, tangible progress over the past year, bringing us to a place of stability. We are now called upon to lift our collective gaze to the horizon as we design a UM worthy of its history and long-standing impact.
Our Steady, Tangible Progress
You have worked tirelessly to make the steady, tangible progress necessary in stabilizing UM. Our Priorities for Action, which echo the work that produced the Strategic Vision and UM 2020, have resulted in real accomplishments. Here are just a few highlights:
Budget and infrastructure
This is concrete progress. To learn more about other exciting PFA accomplishments, please visit the PFA webpage.
Our Transition Into Growth
Accomplishments in each of the PFAs have cleared the runway for us to begin our transition from stability to growth and to raise our collective gaze to ask what we want UM to be 10, 15, 20 years from now.
I’m excited to turn our campus community’s attention to this future. Given our strengths, the demographic shifts ahead, the future of work in this country and UM’s stated mission, how can we expand of our conception of a university and meet our moral obligation to effectively serve the students of tomorrow while expanding the boundaries of knowledge?
We absolutely will not cede this good work to others. We are the experts in research and learning. This is ours — the administration, directors, faculty and staff — to get right.
To get this transition to growth right, we will consider what we’ve learned over the past several years, seek to better understand the current challenges and opportunities in higher education and layer in our community’s insights. Together, we will ask ourselves tough and thoughtful questions.
Your Input Into UM’s Future
Much of this insight to inform our growth will come from you.
Over the course of this spring, I invite you to join me in thinking collectively about the attributes that will define the UM of tomorrow. Three questions will guide this thinking, helping us explore the promising strategies we’re already enacting as well as the things we could be doing to shape UM’s future.
You will hear me ask these questions repeatedly as a way to open space for us to do what we do best: think critically in conversation with others.
‘Student of Tomorrow’ Input Sessions
Your first opportunity to provide input into this conversation will be April 2 and 3. We have invited the Education Advisory Board to lead us through a “what if?” conversation around the “student of tomorrow” and the many alternative futures available to UM. The intent of this conversation will not be to adopt one of the archetype universities that we will consider, but rather to get us thinking together about designing UM’s future.
The April 2 and 3 “Student of Tomorrow” sessions will likely be offered as remote sessions or postponed for a later date. As we determine how and when these sessions will be offered, we will send updated information and opportunities to RSVP.
While it’s important that we continue to think about UM’s promising future, we will do so in a way that minimizes health risks in our community.
In addition to inviting the campus community to these idea generation sessions, I am hosting a series of intimate faculty breakfasts to discuss the key attributes that should define the UM of tomorrow. Spots for these breakfasts filled quickly, and I hope to continue this tradition in the fall.
The campus community will have other opportunities to participate in these ongoing discussions, so please consider participating as these future invitations arise.
Our Ongoing Strategic Thinking
Looking ahead, your input will inform our development of a set design principles that will help us continually shape the UM of tomorrow. Our goal is to align on a strategic direction for UM and to rigorously determine on an annual basis the ideas and initiatives that are likely to have the greatest impact. To this end, we will implement an annual planning mechanism for institutional strategic thinking that allows us to validate, refine and revise our priorities and efforts annually.
This is our shared responsibility and opportunity. I thank you for your contributions to the progress we’ve made, and I enthusiastically invite you to engage in actively shaping UM’s future. As I mentioned, this is ours to get right — together. I am confident we will because we have the talent, resiliency and wisdom of the UM Family.
|Office of the President|
University of Montana – 32 Campus Drive
Missoula, Montana 59812 | 406-243-2311
[email protected] | http://www.umt.edu/president
It’s no longer enough to rely on the university model.
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