Friday Focus: Planning, pursuing, prospering

Feb 9, 2024

— By Anupma Prakash, provost and executive vice chancellor

Last week as I drove from my home to my office, to the grocery store, and back home through the thick ice fog in temperatures well below negative forty, I was reminded how blessed I was. I was in a warm car, driving on a well-plowed road, buying fresh groceries, and working through my daily chores  all because there were well-planned services and infrastructure in place. So many people, organizations and systems were involved in ensuring that I had what I needed to live a safe and good life.

Planning is key to running any organization. A good plan serves as a roadmap to pursue the vision and goals set forth. Members of resilient and prospering organizations also recognize there are multiple paths to reach a goal. For any reason, if the first plan fails or is not optimal, there is wisdom in being nimble, pivoting, re-planning and pursuing a modified plan. This is what we do at UAF. We are currently in the midst of many ongoing planning efforts. 

R1 planning: Several teams are currently planning UAF’s strategies to achieve and maintain R1, the highest classification of research activity defined by the Carnegie Classification system that would place UAF in the top 4% of  U.S. universities with respect to research. Chancellor White hosted a discussion about R1 last month that has excellent updates on the planning efforts and how to get involved. I encourage you to check this recording if you missed the live discussion. 

Academic planning: UAF’s 2024-2029 Academic Plan has four guiding goals for UAF to pursue. 

  • Goal #1: Foster transformative education and excellence
  • Goal #2: Explore pathways to sustainable growth through innovation and development
  • Goal #3: Support research, scholarship and creative work
  • Goal #4: Improve processes that impact students, faculty, and staff

Five teams, composed of one administrator, one student, one staff, and three faculty members, are working this Spring to identify concrete action plans for each goal. You can reach out to the academic planning co-leads Karen Jensen and Karsten Hueffer, or any planning team member to share your thoughts. Implementation of action plans will commence in the fall of 2024 and there will be opportunities for further engagement. I will continue to post all updates on the Planning page of the Provost website.

Employees engage in planning discussions at UAF.
UAF photo by Eric Engman
Employees engage in planning discussions at UAF. From left to right Karsten Hueffer, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Anupma Prakash, provost and executive vice chancellor; Karen Jensen, director of libraries; and Trent Sutton, vice provost and accreditation liaison officer.

Planning to transform the foundational postsecondary experience: UAF is working with the Gardner Institute on a five-year project to Transform the Foundational Postsecondary Experience for our students. The Gardner Institute is a non-profit organization that works with institutions to improve outcomes related to teaching, learning, retention and completion. This week UAF teams looked at institutional data and survey results in the initial ‘sense making workshop’. This initial data discovery and analysis phase is intended to identify redundancies, gaps, capacity, readiness, and abilities. It will be followed by intensive support for redesigning various aspects of the foundational experience, such as first-year seminars, gateway courses, and curricular redesign, which we will implement and evaluate over the following four years starting summer 2024.

These are just three of numerous ongoing short- and long-term planning efforts at UAF. I encourage you to actively engage in the planning processes that help to shape the journeys we pursue. Plan, pursue, pivot if needed, plan, pursue ….  on a continuous basis, as that is the key to both personal and institutional prosperity.

Friday Focus is written by a different member of UAF’s leadership team every week.