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Town-hall meetings on strategic planning start

The 60 members of UNG's Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which was formed and started meeting during fall semester, is drafting elements of the plan to guide the university's future.

The University of North Georgia's Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which was formed and began holding weekly meetings during fall semester, will hold a series of town-hall meetings on all campuses beginning Jan. 15. By the end of spring semester, committee members are expected to draft a plan for the future of the university.

The committee, a broad-based representation of about 60 faculty, staff and students from the university's four campuses, is guiding the university through the current phase of the strategic planning process, "Engaging UNG: Planning for Excellence." Strategic planning is a collaborative process through which the university community develops a shared vision of its future and goals.

The committee is co-chaired by Dr. J.B. Sharma, professor and assistant department head of physics, and Dr. Andrew J. Leavitt, vice president for university advancement and professor of chemistry.

Town hall meetings are an important part of the strategic planning process for UNG to ensure that all faculty, staff and students have opportunities to learn about and comment on the work of the strategic planning steering committee.

"As we seek to provide a high-quality education to our students and serve the northeast Georgia region, it is vital that our faculty, staff and students and the members of the community have opportunities to provide their input and share their opinions," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. "Our university has a major impact on the economy, workforce and culture of this region, and we need to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of the state, this region and the country."

Sharma said the committee is dedicated to giving people "ownership" of the strategic plan.

"We will be sure that the conversation reaches out to every nook and cranny of our university," Sharma said. "If there is a personal buy-in at every level of the university, it will translate into success over the long term, so it is very important that people have a sense that they spoke up and were heard."

Members of the committee will solicit feedback from their specific constituencies, Leavitt said, and he will lead the efforts to engage alumni, donors and the community.

"A strategic plan without community input is only half a plan," Leavitt said. "Gathering input from people outside of the university will be critical for the committee to develop a strategic plan that best serves the university and our communities."

In addition to the town hall meetings, comments also can be submitted via the strategic planning website.

Meetings are from noon until 1 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays, except Jan. 22 and during spring break:

Date                 Campus                     Location

Jan. 15              Oconee                      Classroom 310

Jan. 22              no town hall meeting   

Jan. 29              Dahlonega                  Hoag auditorium

Feb. 5               Cumming                   Room 103

Feb. 12             Gainesville                  CEPA 108 theater

Feb. 19             Oconee                      Classroom 310

Feb. 26             Dahlonega                  Hoag auditorium

March 5            Cumming                   Room 234

March 12          Gainesville                  CEPA 108 theater

March 17-22     Spring Break                (No town hall meeting)

March 26           Oconee                      Classroom 310

April 2               Dahlonega                  Hoag auditorium

April 9               Cumming                   Room 234

April 16             Gainesville                  CEPA 108 theater

A series of town hall meetings was held in October 2013 to share information about the process that would be used for strategic planning. These meetings were hosted by Sharma and Leavitt. The meetings were open to all faculty, staff and students.

The committee, which will continue meeting throughout the semester, will split into various subcommittees and work on focusing the strategic themes identified in this fall's visioning process into an initial draft of the strategic plan.

As the committee drafts elements of the plan, it will vet concepts by presenting ideas to "sounding boards" of campus and community constituents and through the strategic planning website. The steering committee will submit a strategic plan to Dr. Patricia Donat, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, by April 30. The next step will be identifying an implementation committee who will begin putting UNG's strategic plan into action.

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