On Friday of this past week, UHD held a second retreat. We expanded from 50 to roughly 70 faculty, staff, and students. This retreat applied the concept from "Good to Great" to UHD. Our faculty led the workshop and preparation. Doug TeDuits moderated, Akif Uzman (Natural Sciences) and Rob Jarrett (English) co-chaired.
In preparing for the workshop we had several work groups meet. One reviewed the UHD Mission, a second looked at possible Peers, a third examined Issues identified at the last retreat, and I prepared a few PowerPoint slides summarizing the G2G concept and how we might apply it to the University of Houston-Downtown.
If you know about Jim Collin's book, Good to Great, the Hedgehog concept is key. (See my earlier blogpost on Good to Great) You draw three circles. In the first is the organization's passion (or its mission). The second houses its resources and economic engine, and and the third circle lists where the organization excels and has the potential of being best in class. Where the three circles overlap, you find your potential BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).
In goal-setting, an organization can't set goals that are easy to attain, even if you have to stretch. You need to set goals so high (like reaching for the stars) that you must transform the organization to attain them. Here is a summary:
In the first circle, "What is UHD Passionate About?" groups came up with: student access, student success, community engagement, engaged citizens, diversity, high quality education, and student-faculty interaction.
In the second circle("What Can UHD Be Best At?") groups listed: having a holistic approach, student engagement, best Hispanic education, experiential learning, top unique academic programs, international education, best at educating non-traditional and diverse students, and student access.
In the final circle, "What Drive's UHD's Resource Engine?" the groups listed: funding (including all money inputs), partnerships, student success, faculty/staff, diversity and location, branding, graduate programming, effective data, technology and community.
In the final session of the day, groups listed possible BHAGs: leading in student success through experiential learning; becoming a 'communiversity' which links learning and engagement in all aspects of what we do; creating engaged citizens; leading in graduating minority students, particularly in the sciences; increasing retention and graduation rates by 3-5% a year through various interventions; creating a university where everyone can graduate; becoming the best darned public undergraduate university in Texas!
The process is not finished. And these are still very rough goals. But the discussions were lively and the groups engaged. So the process has begun for UHD. In the coming months, we will refine the process further, involve more faculty, staff, and students, and sharpen our circles and goals. I will describe what we are doing, as it unfolds, in future posts.
By the way, in our poll, nearly three-fourths of those who responded felt that UHD should focus on helping students to succeed.