Campus News - October 1, 2001

Faculty examine strategic plan

By Carolyn Gonzales

Faculty Senate met recently, starting with a moment of silence for the Sept. 11 victims and their families. Sociology Professor Richard Coughlin presented a memorial minute for Richard Tomasson who died Sept. 6.

Provost Brian Foster was on hand to lead an open discussion of the UNM Strategic Plan draft. Foster said, “We had a diverse task force – a broad cut of UNM.”

“The process began 16 months ago,” said Foster, indicating that a great deal of time has been given to the project in the form of input and reports and the strategic plan draft is the result. Foster said that UNM represents a broad range of constituent issues – health care, research, intellectual property, teacher education, “and that’s just scratching the surface. All groups are represented in our mission. The document was shaped by the process.”

Preliminarily, missions and values are described with their strategic advantages. The strategic directions outlined in the second part of the draft plan “are given shape by objectives,” said Foster. Part three, the implementation plan, provides tactics to implement the directions and objectives.

Foster said that the plan does need to be finalized, but “it is a living document that will continue to evolve.” For each tactic a mini-plan needs to be developed, he said.

Foster pointed out that information technology (IT) is not specifically addressed in one place in the plan, but rather incorporated throughout. He said, “We have 30 offices with intense IT involvement. They share similar infrastructures and it’s hard to pull it all together. We will, this year, bring the people together to discuss it. It will be the first time this broad range comes together,” he said.

Bob Leonard, associate professor of anthropology, advocated for a living wage for all University employees. “If we’re putting together a strategic plan, we need to provide all FTEs with a living wage,” he said, adding that UNM may have hundreds who earn less than a living wage. Foster called it an “idea with real impact.”

Foster responded to inquiries about quality of life issues and support for international programs. He also responded to a comment from Byron Lindsey, foreign languages and literatures, about “utopian” language used to describe UNM. Foster said, “We are a research university, not a community college, but we’re not UCLA either.” He added that feedback he received on the environmental scan last year indicated that people thought it gave a negative representation of the University. Foster added, “But we should interject the environmental scan into the strategic plan.”

Foster indicated his goal is to bring the strategic plan to the Board of Regents at their November meeting for approval and endorsement.

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