Dear Campus Community,
The University of New Haven has reached a major crossroads in its history. In recent years, the University has thrived by growing student enrollment, adding a number of new academic programs, raising its academic profile, and investing significantly in physical enhancements and expansions to the campus. Our financial health has never been stronger, and we have met or exceeded our operating margin goals each of the past eight years. Still, there is more to be done. As noted in our recently completed Strategic Plan, we are in need of additional science facilities, and our most prominent academic programs need additional investments to remain competitive. Overall, we must continue to strengthen our core academic programs while prioritizing new areas for investment and explore creating new majors that may be more attractive to prospective, higher-achieving students. We will require additional resources to achieve these goals, which will initially have to come from a reallocation of our current budget. This should, in turn, generate new income, which will allow us to continue to thrive.
Now is the optimum time for the University to undertake a comprehensive review and assessment of all of our academic and administrative programs to ensure that we are strategic in moving forward and to help us determine for which programs we want to allocate additional funding, for which ones we want to retain funding at the current level, and for which ones we want to reduce funding or phase out. We have built our current financial health through effective planning and prudent resource management. We must continue to plan for our future and intensify these efforts in the context of an uncertain global economic outlook.
With the objective of becoming an even better institution, I would like to lead us through a comprehensive, long-term budget reallocation process to help secure our institution’s future. At the end of this process, which will take approximately nine months, every academic and administrative program currently offered by UNH will be examined to assess its contributions to our overall success in comparison with other programs.
Our approach to this effort will be modeled on the process in Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services by Robert C. Dickeson, but it will be adapted to meet our specific needs. It will begin formally in the next few weeks, include a campus forum to solicit input on initial findings, and conclude with the submission of a report of recommendations to the senior administration and the Board of Governors.
This is not intended to be a cost-cutting exercise. Rather, over a multi-year period, we intend to shift resources away from programs that are no longer adequately contributing to our success so that we can make additional investments in programs that are performing exceptionally well. This effort will be carried out by a broadly representative and diverse group of stakeholders from across the University. Two task forces will be created: one to examine academic programs and another to examine administrative programs. The academic task force will be staffed by faculty and academic administrators. The administrative task force will be staffed by administrators, faculty and staff. Student input will also be sought throughout the process.
Although we will seek to ensure that the task force participants bring perspectives from all sectors of the institution, it is critically important that everyone recognize they will not be representing any individual unit or constituency. Instead, they will be asked to adopt a "trustee mentality." In other words, though they bring knowledge and experience shaped and informed by involvement in their unit or constituency, they must adopt a broad institutional perspective when they undertake this effort.
Both task forces will receive administrative and logistical support from the Provost, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, and a number of support staff who will be assigned to the committees. Additionally, they will rely on advice from Larry Goldstein, president of Campus Strategies, LLC, who will serve as a consultant to assist with this process.
It is important to note that the task forces are recommending rather than implementing entities. There will be a formal process for the review of the initial draft of the report, which will be made publicly available upon its completion. It will be the responsibility of the institution’s senior leadership – the members of the cabinet and me – to decide which recommendations to accept and implement, and on what timetable. Please also understand that all laws, contracts and University policies will be adhered to during the implementation phase following the completion of the assessment process.
Although the specific assessment criteria and weighting will be developed by the respective task forces, their charges contain the following language:
"The task force is expected to adhere to two principles in carrying out this responsibility. First, the criteria must be holistic. That is, they must take into consideration the full gamut of assessment factors, including qualitative and quantitative, financial and nonfinancial, and any other relevant measures of performance.
The second principle is that the criteria must result in a fair assessment of all programs. Although the differences among programs will result in some programs faring better on some criteria than others, the selection and weighting of criteria must ensure that no individual programs are unfairly treated in the process."
This is a major undertaking, and it will not be a one-time effort. A comprehensive database will be developed through this process, and it is our intention to maintain it and update it annually. We anticipate that the prioritization process will be conducted again in approximately five years and will become a standard element of our periodic strategic planning process.
Although this is the first official communication on this subject, it certainly will not be the last. I will rely on the committee chairs to keep it in the forefront of UNH stakeholders’ minds via regular updates. It is my expectation that this process will be undertaken in a transparent manner. This means that, with the exception of the deliberations regarding individual programs and the other inner workings of the task forces, all facets of the process will be shared widely and updated regularly.
Finally, I will be holding two, one-day educational sessions on this process. A representative group of approximately 50 faculty and staff will be invited to participate on December 4 and 5. Many of these individuals will be asked to serve on the aforementioned committees, and some will serve as support staff. Each of them will serve as liaisons to the broader University community. During these sessions, Larry Goldstein will share information about the process and facilitate activities that will inform our process and guide the two committees. If you are asked to serve on one of the task forces, you will be receiving an electronic invitation from me in the next few days, and I ask that you respond as soon as possible as to whether or not you can attend. Several Board members will sit in on these meetings on December 4 and 5 as observers to better understand the issues being discussed. However, the Board will not be involved in determining the final recommendations that will eventually be made by each of the task forces.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to seeing the recommendations once the task forces have concluded their efforts and produced their reports.
With best wishes,