Project Title:The UNO STEM Priority Strategic Planning InitiativeInstitution Name:University of Nebraska at Omaha
Innovation Category:Strategic Planning
Project Director:Dr. Neal Grandgenett, Haddix Community Chair of STEM EducationContact Information:(402) 554-2690,
Project Description:The UNO STEM Priority Strategic Planning Initiative
followed the Chancellor’s designation of STEM as one of five campus priorities.
Faculty leaders created a STEM Leadership Team that collaboratively established
a STEM strategic plan with the direct input of over 50 faculty members and nearly
60 members of the community, including K12 educators, business, and community
colleges. The initiative has had impacts across the campus, including
interdisciplinary grants, new pathways for teacher certification, an enhanced
use of Inquiry-Based Learning, increased outreach, academic learning
communities, and four externally funded leadership positions, called STEM
Community Chairs, that each lead STEM initiatives.
The UNO STEM Priority has four strategic goals that
are detailed within a strategic plan that includes detailed objectives,
timelines and measurements that guide campus efforts. These four goals are
related to teaching, research, service and infrastructure.
- The teaching goal seeks to bring increased student
engagement into STEM classrooms, and to improve recruitment, retention, and
- The research goal seeks to expand faculty
discipline-based education research to investigate innovations.
- The service goal seeks to build community
partnerships for enhanced outreach.
- The general infrastructure goal seeks to build
interdisciplinary efforts with increased faculty leadership, administrative
support, and reviews of data.
Outcomes:Improved STEM outcomes have aligned with each of the four
strategic goals. For example, in teaching, inquiry-based calculus classes have reduced
student DWF rates (students
who receive a "D", "F", or withdraw)
from 42.2% to 20.3% in that course. Discipline-based education research efforts
have expanded faculty participation in interdisciplinary grant writing by
nearly 50% and the STEM leadership committee now writes letters of support for
requesting faculty. STEM outreach events have nearly doubled, and a new staff
position, a STEM Outreach Coordinator, was added. The infrastructure goal includes
efforts to work toward the establishment of a STEM Center and has been successful
in adding four externally-funded Community Chairs.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:Challenges associated with the STEM Priority have involved breaking down
“turf” perceptions to allow for the emergence of a common vision. This common
vision was eventually established by undertaking a year-long strategic planning
effort that created detailed goals, objectives, tasks, current status summaries,
immediate actions and success indicators. A professional moderator helped in
the conversation. It was also challenging to make sure that everyone felt
included, such as faculty outside of the STEM disciplines and numerous community
partners. This was accomplished through a series of small and large group
meetings, and ongoing plan refinements using focused stakeholder input.
Evaluation Approach:Formative evaluation of the STEM Priority is the responsibility of a
sixteen-member faculty leadership team, along with a four member administrative
team that includes three college Deans and one Associate Vice Chancellor
(Research). Annual reports are now being initiated that include matrices detailing
progress on each objective, using indicators from the STEM Strategic Plan. A technical writer and an evaluation
specialist are helping to prepare the annual report documents and community
stakeholders are providing input.
Potential for Replication:Replication
of the STEM Priority Strategic Planning Initiative on other campuses should be
possible. Replication is already occurring locally in several area school
districts, community colleges, and by community groups such as the Omaha Chamber
of Commerce. For strong replications, it would seem important to engage a
professional moderator, technical writer, and at least several strong faculty
leaders, while supporting at least a year of focused conversation and periodic document
CEO-to-CEO Contact:John Christensen
, Chancellorjohnchristensen@unomaha.eduDate Published: Monday, March 24, 2014