June 2021

Town Hall Explores Strategic Plan Objectives

June 4, 2021    |  

The co-chairs of the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) 2022-2026 Strategic Plan held a virtual town hall June 3 to provide updates, field questions, and discuss the plan’s core values, themes, strategic objectives, and strategic outcomes as the six-month drafting process approaches its conclusion.

The process began in January with a review and revision of UMB’s core values and the development of themes, objectives, and outcomes guided by, among other things, the updated set of core values, the University’s mission and vision, and the goals of the UMB president and University System of Maryland.

“We are on the last lap and coming down the stretch,” said Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, interim provost, executive vice president, and dean of the University of Maryland Graduate School, who presided over the town hall with fellow co-chair Judy L. Postmus, PhD, ACSW, dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. “We greatly appreciate the ongoing engagement of our UMB community and the guidance of our steering and logistics committees. They have been working tirelessly to get us to the point where we’re close now to adopting our next five-year Strategic Plan.”

(Read more about the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan and watch videos of the virtual town halls.)

Ward and Postmus led the audience through a PowerPoint presentation, kicking off with a recap of the revised core values, a new set of values that will replace the core values of Accountability, Civility, Collaboration, Diversity, Excellence, Knowledge, and Leadership that were crafted during UMB’s 2011-2016 Strategic Plan. The new core values are:

  • Respect and Integrity: We value each other and hold ourselves accountable for acting ethically and transparently using compassion and empathy.
  • Well-Being and Sustainability: We care about the welfare of our people, planet, communities, and University.
  • Equity and Justice: We embrace and are committed to diversity, and we value inclusive and just communities. We oppose racism and oppression in all its forms.
  • Innovation and Discovery: We imagine and explore new and improved ways to accomplish our mission of research, education, and service.

Ward noted that the new core values are an extension of the previous set of seven, with Civility and Accountability evolving into Respect and Integrity; Diversity evolving into Equity and Justice; Excellence, Knowledge, and Collaboration evolving into Innovation and Discovery; and Leadership being integrated into all of the new core values.

“We did make comprehensive changes to our core values, not necessarily tossing out the old values and bringing in new ones, but evolving them in the language we use,” Ward said. “This was a heavy lift that took a lot of time, but we got a lot of feedback from the UMB community to help us craft these core values, so we are grateful for that.”

Postmus spoke about each set of new core values and noted that with Well-Being and Sustainability, the word “sustainability” goes beyond merely being environmentally friendly.

“It’s a sense of caring for one another, supporting one another, and supporting our world, our climate, and everything in it,” Postmus said. “To understand and capture the full narrative of this new core value, we use terms such as work and academic life balance; environmentally friendly; responsible stewardship of resources; family friendly; and mindfulness.

“We anticipate and hope that every faculty, staff, and student at the University can feel and be part of implementing these core values and demonstrating them in their behavior.”

The co-chairs then discussed the plan’s six themes — the major focus areas for the University for the next five years, which are influenced by UMB’s mission, vision, and core values — as well as the strategic objective for each theme and the strategic outcomes for each objective. The themes are:

  • Community Partnership and Collaboration
  • University Culture, Engagement, and Belonging
  • Student Growth and Success
  • Innovation and Reimagination
  • Global Health and Education
  • Core Values Integration and Accountability

“Each strategic objective is considered a long-term organizational goal. It puts the theme into context and brings it into sharper focus,” Ward said. “The strategic outcomes are multiple — there are four to six of them for each theme — and they are what we aspire to have accomplished five years from now.

“This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the deans and vice presidents take up the effort: What goals, priorities, and strategies should we at the school level, and at the administrative unit level, put into place to help the University achieve its strategic outcomes?”

The presentation detailed each theme’s strategic objective and outcomes; Postmus and Ward pointed the audience to an online survey for the UMB community to provide more feedback on the plan; and the co-chairs fielded questions from the audience on how UMB community members can contribute to the plan, ways to measure its success, and how to ensure incoming students are aware of the plan once it’s implemented.

On the latter question, Postmus said the schools will need to be proactive in promoting UMB’s core values as well as the plan’s themes and objectives.

“This is where it comes down to making the Strategic Plan operational, making it come to life,” she said. “We’ll have the plan on our website and it will be available for anybody to read, but that doesn’t necessarily mean students will do that. So we’ll need to promote it in our schools and our administrative units, have discussions around it, and put it in our syllabus. The schools and units will need to have conversations about how we make the Strategic Plan real to our faculty, staff, and students.”

Ward added: “When we recruit students, we should be crystal clear about what our core values are and what we stand for as an institution. And that should be reflected in our curriculum and co-curricular programming. In everything we do here at UMB, we really need to live these core values.”