North Central Self Study
Chapter 1: UNK and the University of Nebraska:
The First Years
Planning and Focus for Excellence
Beginning in 1993, the campus adopted new strategic planning processes. The intention was to direct long-range planning based on mission concepts and to ensure that strategic priorities governed UNK programs, operations, and budgets. Chancellor Gladys Johnston hosted a series of planning retreats with administrators and faculty in 1993 and 1994. She then appointed a Strategic Planning Committee that in 1995 produced a strategic plan covering the next decade. All campus constituencies as well as members of the community participated in developing this plan. Over succeeding years, in light of periodic assessments by the UNK leadership group and under specific guidance from the Regents and University Central Administration, the campus further undertook special planning exercises to reallocate monies annually among major units, to identify and invest in academic priorities, to streamline administrative operations, to develop the physical campus, to modernize information technology, and - starting in 2001 - to reduce budgets in line with radical cuts in state appropriations for higher education.
In one sense the product of all this work was a plan -- a broad design outlined in one document whose ideas were thereafter elaborated and refined in a variety of subordinate or related plans and initiatives. The results are evident in a wide range of developments summarized in this chapter. In another sense, however, the product was less tangible but just as meaningful: as UNK implemented the strategic design, in different contexts and through changing circumstances, there was a campus-wide convergence around the core values, philosophy, and objectives of an institution that aspires to become "a premier university for undergraduate, residential education". This, in itself, was a significant achievement, given the prior investment of personal and material resources in the aspiration to become an independent university.