April 9, 2018
Dear Members of the UNE Community,
I knew before accepting the job of UNE president that I would be joining a special place, but I could not have appreciated just how remarkable our community is. My interactions with so many of you over the past several months have revealed what a welcoming, caring, supportive, and exciting community ours is.
Now, as we embark on the next phase in the development of UNE’s new strategic plan, your participation will be critical to our success. Our community possesses much collective wisdom, and we must tap into our deep reservoir of experiences and expertise in assessing UNE’s current realities and imagining its future. We must face unflinchingly our challenges and we must identify opportunities to leverage our strengths to meet the needs of our students, and society more broadly. Together, we will design a blueprint to maximize UNE’s potential, building on our sturdy foundation.
We began our strategic planning process last August with a series of steps including my own listening tour across the University, a series of town hall meetings and other forums for community discussion and feedback, the formation of the Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee to work with me to gather synthesize input, establishment of the strategic plan web site, discussion about the future of UNE with a wide range of stakeholders, and engagement with the AKA Strategy consulting firm that is helping guide us through the process. I want to thank everyone who has engaged so far in this process. The dialogue has been extremely thoughtful and robust, and it is clear that everyone in the UNE community – faculty, professional staff, students, alums, and other stakeholders – cares deeply and passionately about this university and what it represents to them.
Out of these discussions has already emerged a number of important themes and priorities. We have summarized these in a draft “framework” document that is accessible on the website. The next step in the process involves seeking feedback from the community on the ideas articulated in this draft framework, and well as further suggestions on anything that might have been missed. This month and continuing through May we will engage the community in a number of ways. We will form small working groups; we will meet with students, faculty, and professional staff; and I will hold open Town Hall meetings on each of our Maine campuses, which will be livestreamed to sites around the globe, clinical affiliate learning sites, and for our online community. Through these venues we will gather your ideas on the plan we are designing together. Once this phase of community idea generation and feedback is completed by the end of May, we will work over the summer to refine your ideas and suggestions. We will then have another round of community input on the more developed draft plan, with the goal of presenting it to the board of trustees for its review and discussion at the November board meeting. We will then begin the important process of implementation. No plan is of much value if we cannot put words into actions to move the institution forward.
I look forward to the next steps of completing our plan with you, and more importantly, of doing the good work that will emerge from and be guided by this new strategic vision and plan. UNE has a great history and stands at a place of significant strength as a result of prior strategic decisions, and I know it will have a bright future if we all work together to take our best and most innovative ideas and coalesce them into this emerging vision and direction that builds on those strengths.
Together, we will shape this institution we cherish into the most successful, impactful, resilient version of itself it can be.
James D. Herbert