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President Bob Bruininks speaking at the strategic positioning task force work session

President Bob Bruininks speaking at the strategic positioning task force work session.

Rolling up the sleeves

Task forces begin work on transforming the University

By Rick Moore

Published on September 19, 2005

What began more than a year ago as a bold idea to transform the University of Minnesota into one of the top three public universities in the world is now officially beginning to take shape.

On Friday morning, Sept. 16, the strategic positioning steering committee and task force chairs met to discuss the nuts-and-bolts process of transforming the University. And later that afternoon, members of the 34 task forces given the responsibility of making specific recommendations for achieving the U's goal had their first official meetings.

If now is the time to "roll up our sleeves," as President Bob Bruininks said last week, there are now many bare forearms around the University. The members of the task forces, along with their team leaders and support staff, comprise more than 400 faculty and staff across the University of Minnesota system and others from the greater community. University participants include department heads, students, faculty, and staff.

They will meet on a regular basis over the next few months to develop recommendations for their final reports--many of which are due Dec. 10.

"We are not going to sit in neutral as we are beset by the challenges and opportunities that give us a chance to become a great university and a great university system," said Bruininks. "We have to run to capture the future."

Bruininks began the day by reminding the group of the forces driving the strategic positioning initiative: tightening financial resources, changing demographics, growing global competition for resources and the best students and faculty.

"We are not going to sit in neutral as we are beset by the challenges and opportunities that give us a chance to become a great university and a great university system," said Bruininks."We have to run to capture the future."

Sue Gebelein, a consultant with Personnel Decisions International, commended the University's foresight in actively charting its own course. "Many public institutions don't have the opportunity you have," she said. "Many public institutions wait until they're forced to change."

Change isn't always about what you give up—it's about what can be added, she said.

"This is all about giving people the sense that when they come through the doors [of the University], that they can change the world each and every day," said Bruininks. "Together we can come back a year from now, or two years or three years or four years or five years, and say to ourselves, we have made a difference and we have created a better future for the University of Minnesota."

To read more about the strategic positioning process and see a list of the task force members and chairs, visit Transforming the U.

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