Revised recommendations from 11 more task forces
May 16, 2006
Revised recommendations from 11 more strategic positioning task forces formed as part of the University of Minnesota's ongoing initiative to transform the U into one of the top three public research universities in the world are now available for review on the Transforming the U Web site.
"The University community has been actively engaged in strategic positioning throughout the past year and a half," says Tom Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "The breadth and depth of ongoing participation has been invaluable, and our faculty, staff and students are to be commended for their commitment to this process. Now we can build on this highly consultative process and identify key initiatives that will propel the University forward."
The revised recommendations range from what metrics the University should use for determining how it measures progress toward becoming a top three university to what steps it can take to improve its research infrastructure to support the scholarly work that is conducted at the U.
The submission of these revised recommendations brings to 34 the number of task force reports that have been submitted since last September as part of the strategic positioning initiative. (Recommendations from the Crookston, Duluth, and Morris campuses and Rochester center will be posted in the near future.)
Earlier this year, recommendations from eight academic and three systemwide task forces were submitted, as were the recommendations from seven task forces that were rolled into a single report from the Administrative Service & Productivity Steering Committee.
The University's senior leadership has begun implementing recommendations and will continue to evaluate them. Priorities and timelines for initiatives will be announced in early fall to the Board of Regents and the University community. A brief review of the revised recommendations appears below.
Academic Health Center task forcesFour task forces were created and charged with making recommendations on a wide range of issues to further improve the University's Academic Health Center.
Clinical Sciences Enterprise The clinical sciences are the cornerstone of the educational and research missions of the Academic Health Center, supporting the education of the next generation of health professionals. Task force revised recommendations include the following:
- Support for a culture of demonstrated excellence in innovative clinical care delivery, including patient-centered care with an emphasis on interprofessional teams, application of evidence based decision-making, and outcomes measurement and reporting.
- Development of educational programs that prepare students for a career of innovative health care delivery.
- Vibrant clinical research that advances knowledge and its application in all parts of the clinical science continuum from lab bench to the bedside.
- Access to integrated information systems that connect all areas of the clinical sciences to facilitate clinical research, education and care delivery where outcomes are always measured.
- Facilities that support state of the art care delivery, research and education, including interprofessional teams and access to cutting-edge technology.
- Development of a unifying model for faculty that tracks across the Academic Health Center and equally values the three components of clinical sciences, clinical research, education and care delivery.
The shifting demands of the marketplace for health professionals require the University to develop greater flexibility to respond to workforce needs. This shifting demand, joined by increasing costs of and decreasing public investment in health professional education, and a shift to community based education partnerships, requires a clear understanding of the current financial models for health professional education. The following revised recommendations identify the task force direction:
- Convene stakeholder groups to monitor workforce issues, develop a health professions workforce monitoring function with dedicated resources, create an "agile" model of data collection that provides timely response to changes in health care practice, and create an education and communication strategy to accompany release of relevant information.
- Develop an appointment process for community-based faculty, as well as an infrastructure to support health professions education, with appropriate faculty rewards and recognition for participating in community-based activities, engage organizational leaders in the development of community partnerships, and engage additional state-wide partners, as appropriate.
- Transform the culture to embrace interprofessional education, develop sustainable systems to assure exemplary interprofessional educational programs, and designate a central coordinating entity and manager of interprofessional education activities in the AHC.
- Create an ongoing tracking mechanism to monitor educational expenses and revenues across the AHC, charge a planning group to research scholarship opportunities to maximize financial aid options for AHC students, and develop a plan to address contingencies of a fragile funding structure.
- Engage internal and external stakeholders for ongoing discussions about the future of health care and health professions education and to assist the AHC in transforming health professions education to meet the changing needs of the health care system.
Health professional education is undergoing a profound transformation driven by the explosion of new information and new knowledge that affects both the education of our students and the practice of our graduates. This task force developed a system to manage this knowledge explosion and to ensure that students, faculty, and staff practice lifelong and continuous learning. The task force produced the following definition and key recommendations:
- Knowledge management is creating, identifying, capturing and distributing the right knowledge to the right people at the right time, in the right form, and deploying that information in ways that improve individual and community health.
- A knowledge management executive committee (KMEC) should be established under the AHC assistant vice president for Education to oversee the design, development, implementation and ongoing assessment of the knowledge management system. That committee should be comprised of U of M faculty, staff, and students, representatives of the Minnesota health service industry and community, and liaisons to other appropriate U of M technology and academic units.
- The knowledge management system will be implemented AHC-wide and will be integrated with other U of M enterprise-wide systems.
- An initial step will be to conduct a systematic "gap analysis" between the knowledge management system needs (expertise, technology tools and systems, access and connectivity, and continuous learning and improvement) and current available resources. The outcome of the gap analysis will be to identify current assets, identify what additional resources are needed to fill the gaps, and ensure that the technology tools and systems, and the expertise are delivered as an integrated system.
Facilities are core to the education, research and clinical care that defines an academic health center--a fact that is recognized by states and institutions nationwide. To recruit top faculty, the best students, and attract patients, the AHC must make significant investments in its aging facilities. This new planning process recognizes that the new AHC precinct plan extends beyond a four-square block area in Minneapolis. The task force revised recommendations include:
- Verify and refine the space projections for AHC programs over the next five to 15 years.
- Incorporate the principles, findings and conclusions of this report into a new precinct plan--one that encompasses the entire physical span of the AHC; its multiple missions (education, research, patient care and service) and its key partners; and includes potential sites, cost estimates and sequencing of major projects.
- Incorporate the AHC precinct planning effort into the University-wide initiative to update the Minneapolis campus master plan.
- Update the University six-year capital plan to reflect projects currently underway and identify the next development priorities for the AHC.
Academic task forces
Four academic task forces are seeking input on their preliminary recommendations for transforming the College of Liberal Arts, the science and engineering colleges, discipline evolution, and faculty culture--the reshaping of academic departments and programs to meet future needs--in graduate programs. Each task force has developed specific recommendations in line with the University's overall goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world within a decade.
A synopsis of each of these four task force reports appears below.
Recommendations from this task force include:
- Increase scholarship funding for undergraduate and graduate students.
- Implement a program of junior seminars.
- Provide more systematic mentoring to graduate students, for example, through a distinguished teaching fellows program for outstanding Ph.D. candidates.
- Take advantage of CLA's unique disciplinary specialties and connections with the Twin Cities and global communities to foster powerful new avenues for research, teaching and communication.
- Invest in high-demand entry level undergraduate courses to assure excellent teaching and access.
- Increase the size of the CLA faculty by 44 positions.
- Increase faculty time for research and teaching by providing increased staff support to more efficiently complete routine administrative tasks.
- Assure rigorous promotion and tenure standards, including systematic mentoring for probationary faculty.
Recommendations from this task force include:
- Maintain collegiate and departmental structures in sciences and engineering.
- Partner with the state and private sector to create a science and technology interdisciplinary research institute.
- Strengthen research collaborations among faculty in the Institute of Technology, College of Biological Sciences and Academic Health Center with focused investments in three areas: materials, energy and environmental genomics;
- Develop greater interdisciplinary activities, especially among engineering and medical sciences, through graduate education and research teams.
- Continue efforts to establish and support centralized multi-user research facilities.
- Increase collaborative research and training, especially at the interface of engineering and biology.
- Create an undergraduate minor in biological engineering.
Recommendations from this task force include:
- Establish a named and high-profile institute to support interdisciplinary scholarship.
- Create short-term faculty exchanges that allow faculty members to conduct research and teach in a department or program other than their own.
- Establish a similar exchange program to enable graduate students to develop interdisciplinary expertise.
- Support research initiatives that bring together teams of highly talented faculty and students.
- Implement meaningful and standardized systems for assessing centers.
The faculty culture task force has made 36 specific recommendations, identifying four overall values that must shape faculty culture to reach the University's goal of becoming a top three public research university: excellence, collaboration, academic citizenship and leadership. The recommendations address recruitment, hiring and retention; faculty review, tenure, and promotion; better family friendly benefits; research support; collaboration and intellectual exchange; public engagement; and peer recognition.
Recommendations from this task force include:
- Commit substantial new funds to support faculty compensation and to provide additional family friendly benefits.
- Invest strategically in resources, people and systems that support faculty scholarship.
- Redraft significant portions of the tenure code and alter current processes and reward systems so that they coincide with its stated goals and values.
- Create effective systems that foster interdisciplinary and collaborative research and teaching.
- Creatively explore new ways to enhance the intellectual climate on campus.
Research task forces
Two task forces, under the direction of Tim Mulcahy of the Office of the Vice President for Research, were created and charged with developing strategies to further improve the University's research capabilities.
"The work from these task forces has been very insightful and we look forward to gathering more input from the University community on how to fine-tune these recommendations," says Mulcahy. Research Infrastructure
This task force was charged with developing a plan to support research and scholarship consistent with realization of the University's goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world. Using a definition of "infrastructure" that includes a broad range of facilities and services needed to support all scholarly activity throughout the University, the task force reviewed the current state of the University's research infrastructure. Highlights from the task force recommendations include the following:
- Under the direction of the Office of the Vice President for Research, appoint two oversight committees, one for research space and one for research core facilities, to provide input from faculty members on decisions related to research space and facilities to ensure that scientific synergy is maximized.
- Use a methodology developed by the task force for identifying University research strengths and funding opportunities.
- Organize a focused study in the arts and humanities to identify high impact opportunities for scholarship.
- Pursue funding for major capital investments in the areas of the University's research strengths.
The Collaborative Research Task Force was charged with creating a plan to promote research, partnerships and programs to accelerate the University of Minnesota becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world. The task force's recommendations envision the University as one that will be internationally known for its innovation and excellence in collaborative research and scholarship. Specific recommendations include the following:
- Form a collaborative research unit that has the authority and resources to coordinate this activity across the institution.
- Enhance the value of collaboration and foster a supportive culture by changing the reward structure for individuals and departments.
- Identify projects through a process focused on researchers' creativity and commitment and support these projects with ample space, staff and resources for an appropriate period of time.
- Develop opportunities for researchers to interact and capitalize on this intellectual energy and synergy.
- Recognize leadership as indispensable to successful collaboration and provide multiple opportunities for highly talented researchers and teams to develop leadership skills.
This task force, led by Al Sullivan, special assistant to the president, was charged with identifying appropriate measures to assess the University's performance and its progress toward achieving the aspirational goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world within a decade. The task force was asked to identify ways to measure progress at the operational level and in collegiate units, coordinate campuses, and administrative units, as well as University-wide performance measures. Aligning what is measured across all levels, with progress toward the aspirational goal, is a key theme throughout the recommendations.
Specific revised recommendations include the following:
- Appoint an ongoing Metrics and Measurement Steering Committee to evaluate University-wide performance measures.
- Monitor and review, as appropriate, the peer institutions the University should be compared to.
- Evaluate performance scorecard measures used in the compact process and make adjustments.
- Refine and streamline the enterprise-wide collection of and access to data that support University-wide accountability, planning, and policy analysis.
- Work with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education in developing statewide goals and performance measures.