We all row—strategically!

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One does not have to be on campus long to pick-up the treasured phrase “We all row.” The message is intended, I believe, to inspire unity toward common goals and to declare that we all have a part in the success and future of this university. What becomes of utmost importance then is that we all agree and understand exactly what those common goals are—otherwise all that rowing will result in chaotic effort leading us nowhere.Toward that end, we have been working together to consider our future and define those common goals. Several processes have helped shape our collective thinking, including the NDUS strategic plan, the current VCSU strategic plan and resulting successes, our strategic enrollment planning process, and our master plan. We tested the waters through several campus visioning sessions. We built upon this information through the work of a strategic planning committee, followed by several long, thoughtful, and intense leadership team meetings. The results are captured in these four goals:• Growth: Grow the university to meet the needs of North Dakota and beyond. This goal includes strategies for marketing, strategic student recruitment, retention and persistence, and program development to increase opportunities for growth.• Quality and Engagement: Provide distinctive learning opportunities. This goal focuses on promoting high-impact teaching and learning practices that promote academic and cocurricular student success; supporting continued growth through professional development for faculty and staff; and utilizing resources that foster supportive learning environments for all.• Student Experience: Implement cocurricular experiences to positively impact the learning and growth of students. This goal speaks to the breadth of experiences students have on campus, online, and in their communities, and to the importance of delivering quality student experiences, including student life, access to services, financial support, work experiences, and campus interactions.• Optimization: Increase efficiencies through innovation, collaboration, streamlining, and reallocation. This goal includes strategies for strengthening collaboration with stakeholders, streamlining services and implementing innovative solutions, and strategically allocating resources to provide the highest quality VCSU experience.The next segment of our voyage has been charted. But like all cautious mariners, we will use both the art and the science of experience and data through the ratification process of the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and Student Senate in September. We will also engage with the VCSU Foundation in a visioning session this fall, strengthening our common goal and fueling our passage.Then the oars will drop with clarity, power, and speed toward our next destination. Our future remains vibrant and vital to the state of North Dakota. We will row in unison, fueled by our values of being student-focused, innovative, learning-centered, collaborative, and engaged. I am excited and proud of this university. Yes, our future remains bright, and that indeed makes it a great day to be a Viking!