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Chancellor's comments on strategic planning for UW-Eau Claire

The following is excerpted from
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich's state-of-the-university address on Aug. 22, 2006 (read the entire address in PDF format):


First, we need to refine our vision and strategically manage our future.

On this, I plan to move quickly and to provide personal leadership. Perhaps one of the most important reasons this university has been able to lead our counterparts in the quality of our performance is because of our clear vision: "Excellence. Our Measure, Our Motto, Our Goal." We know what is important and we are united in working toward it.

This vision has served us well. But it is time to look again at what we need to be in a world that is rapidly changing.

I am quite impressed by the approach laid out in the book "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. In that strategy, competition with other institutions becomes irrelevant. Rather, the focus is on creating a leap in the value of what we offer here to our students as well as in the working environment that will attract and retain committed employees.* There is a visual mapping process that will help us define where we are and, more importantly, where we want to be. I will implement this process here in the coming months. I believe it will guide us in enhancing our distinctiveness. An effective, vibrant, transparent strategic plan will dovetail with our accreditation preparation and help us to align our mission, our direction and our resources.

Earlier I mentioned our Marks of Excellence, particularly collaborative research, community-based learning and international experiences. Years ago we developed and implemented those marks and did a great job of it. But look around now and you'll see many universities that are a lot like us. They've modeled themselves on us, are catching up and doing many of the same things.

Think of the analogy of a house. When Debi and I came to Eau Claire, we looked at about 30 houses. The one we chose is unique, has some distinctive characteristics and is very special to us. We love it. That doesn't mean we won't change a thing (although some days that would be OK with me). We certainly will change things and as we do, we plan to add to its distinctiveness.

The purpose of our strategic thinking and action is to identify the distinctiveness that characterizes our university, our capacities, the way we work and our learning environment. It is to build a strategy that creates such an extraordinary level of excellence that others must continue to look to UW Eau Claire as the standard against which to compare themselves. Finding our "blue ocean" will require a rigorous, inclusive and collaborative planning process that engages all of us in asking big questions and finding new answers. It will require us to determine how to best manage our student-faculty ratio to achieve excellence, how to provide the most effective and efficient student services, and how to purposefully organize our environment to support our learning objectives for students. We will need to determine how best to not only attract our first-choice hires but also to retain and continuously develop the talent you all represent here already.

We will work through this together and lay out a plan of distinction for this university. We will define our priorities. We will do our best to obtain adequate state resources to support those priorities. However, budget follows planning, so our budget and our personnel decisions will support our strategic plan, including reallocation and realignment if necessary.

My most immediate goal is engaging this university in inclusive and effective strategic planning that results in a living strategy, meaningful assessment, and broad participation in the decisions that affect our future.

*Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2005), p. 12.