September 29, 2015
A crowd of about 30 gathered Sept. 23 for the first of what will be many campus conversations about DU IMPACT 2025, the draft strategic plan recently shared with the on-campus community. Chancellor Rebecca Chopp and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Gregg Kvistad opened the conversation with an overview of the four transformative directions outlined in the draft plan (see chart). Chancellor Chopp described these four as the “bold initiatives that define the narrative for DU’s future.”
This first town hall was part of the “respond and refine” phase of Imagine DU, the planning process that began last winter. During the fall term, Chopp and Kvistad are welcoming feedback through an extensive series of meetings with faculty, staff and students across campus. There will be a second town hall meeting Oct. 19 and an online discussion forum where people can post comments throughout the term. The plan is likely to be approved in January by DU’s trustees and implementation will begin thereafter.
At the Sept. 23 town hall, members of the audience asked for clarification on some of the strategies, and they suggested new ways to find connections between parts of the plan. They also expressed their hopes that the process would engage all stakeholders.
Here is a snapshot of the dialogue:
A staff member asked for more insight on community engagement, especially related to being a good neighbor for the Denver community and forming a “DU District.”
Chopp emphasized that DU needs to partner with others on strategies contained in the “Impact Denver” direction. “We won’t do these things ourselves, we’ll partner with neighbors, community members, developers and others,” she said. “As a university, we can serve as conveners for such concepts.”
She added that the draft plan envisions creation of a Welcome Center, which might be a career services hub, an alumni center, a place and a Web presence where the community can get information and tap into the resources available on campus, including faculty experts in various areas.
A student shared that he was “blown away by the comprehensive nature of the plan” and is most impressed by the focus on DU’s international impact. His suggestion: Why not incorporate a global focus to the local sustainability initiatives outlined in the plan?
Suggestions such as this are being captured for consideration as the draft plan moves closer to its final form. “One of the benefits of bringing out the draft plan is that those who worked on it are so close they don’t see connections like this that others do,” Chopp shared.
A faculty member questioned how the draft plan document would be presented outside campus; would DU “drill down” into the plan to pull out specific things of interest to potential donors?
This led to a discussion on how to present the content to visual thinkers (something Chopp said is planned for the final document). “The entire document is a matrix,” Kvistad said. “We need to break down its parts when we get to implementation, but think very organically as we move forward.”
More than one audience member brought up the importance of ensuring the plan is inclusive of graduate students.
Chopp acknowledged that the planning team worked hard to incorporate strategies applicable to graduate students, but agreed that more could be done to make that explicit in the plan.
Audience members built off of each other’s comments as the town hall progressed.
One shared that he sees the plan as an opening for experimentation, for units working together to solve problems, such as the need for more affordable housing near campus.
Another pointed out that while many of the strategies focus on academic units, administrative groups are key partners in supporting students and we all need to work together to realize the vision in the plan.
One of the last comments came from an employee who was speaking as an alum: “Alums are excited about DU and we’re glad to hear ‘we want your help’ on things like strengthening DU’s connection to Denver.”
You can add your voice to the conversation: Attend the Oct. 19 town hall and provide feedback at imagine.du.edu. Chopp, Kvistad and individuals from the 27-member advisory group that helped create the draft plan will be hosting meetings across campus with faculty, staff and students. And the plan will be the topic of conversation at the Provost Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 18, open to faculty and staff members; look for more details later.
“This is scaffolding, an architecture for us to build on,” Chopp said. “It’s a catalyst, in that if we can agree on the things described in the plan, then we’ll develop ways to continuously build on these bold ideas over time. This is about writing the next chapter for DU.”