August 10, 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.
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 been working 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.
The University Council met for two days this week to review and discuss the themes and emerging plan. I look forward to providing a community update on August 22 at the Fall Assembly.
UNE has a great history and stands at a place of significant strength as a result of prior strategic decisions, and we have a bright future as 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 are shaping this institution we cherish into the most successful, impactful, resilient version of itself it can be.
James D. Herbert