Think Big Alignment Plans

About Think Big Alignment Plans

In order to build Think Big into the fabric of the institution, Alignment Plans will be developed by the Deans and VPs who report to the Provost. These plans will provide leadership with the opportunity to consider how the North Star and pathways help each unit move forward and will help the university adjust priorities as needed each year. Currently, there are two components: 1) Early Investment Alignment Plans; and 2) Annual Alignment Plans.

Early Investment Alignment Plans

The planning process has brought to light some very important, strategic needs for our campus that we would like to begin funding this academic year as part of the strategic plan. To kick-start the process, we request a short response to the following three priority areas on or around December 20, 2019. You may choose to respond to all three priorities or only those that most align to the future needs of your school/unit. The responses may include both operational and financial requests, but if they include financial requests, it should be for ONE TIME ONLY support, versus recurring operational support. We will then spend January discussing the path forward in meetings with the Provost (these meetings may be earlier if you submit before the deadline), with the intent to begin releasing funds, as required, by mid-February 2020.

Not all units are expected to respond to these priorities; do not force-fit a response for the sake of submitting to this request.

Three Priority Areas

The three priority areas that were identified by the campus and confirmed as a critical path forward by the Board of Trustees include:

  1. Interdisciplinary hires, with a focus on those faculty who could advance our understanding of the human-tech interface (Pathway 1.1 and 2.1)
    • Rationale: It is recognized that at the heart of the Think Big strategic plan is the need to strengthen our research enterprise. Faculty are the foundation to this activity, which also brings value to the educational experience of both undergraduate and graduate students. While we have no current plans to fund recurring salary, we do recognize there are other costs associated with growing our faculty ranks, including start-up costs, recruitment costs, travel support, and other items that will aid in bringing and supporting the best people on campus.
  2. Graduate Student Support (Pathway 4-1)
    • Rationale: It is important for the university to increase the number of research-oriented PhD students. This is not solely about numbers. We will consider requests for graduate student support that align to a few priority areas: building on quality programs (or those strong programs that are building their quality); considering the career paths of the PhD graduate; building a pipeline for historically disenfranchised populations..
  3. Research/Knowledge Creation Support (all pathways combined)
    • Rationale: Support for the research enterprise goes beyond faculty and graduate also includes the systems needed to build capacity and grow the enterprise. One time funding is expected to test out various programs and structures that have the potential of strengthening our research enterprise. While the schools/college are welcome to consider this priority, it is expected that funds/processes will primarily support those units that serve multiple schools/college/divisions.

Additional Information 

We want to understand how these one-time investments will leverage your existing plans this fiscal year, so please be prepared to discuss this at our in-person meetings.


Please send your short requests to no later than December 20.  There will be an iterative process and discussion with the Provost prior to movement forward.

Submit your questions/comments using the form. Questions will be addressed in the order in which they are received. Thanks for your feedback!

Annual Alignment Plans

As part of building the outcome of our Think Big strategic plan into the fabric of the institution, we are requesting Annual Alignment Plans from the Deans as well as those units who report to the Provost. These alignment plans are intended to provide leadership with the opportunity to consider how the North Star and pathways help each unit move forward.

By March 2, 2020, the Provost would like to see a short document articulating the ways each unit/school/college can align with the North Star and pathways.

Annual Alignment Plans should address:

  • What current activities fit along the pathways? **Note, we do not expect all activities of the school/college/unit to align...we are too complex an institution to expect that and/or want that to happen.
  • The following questions should be answered through a narrative of five pages or less:
    • What type of new activities/approaches might you want to consider along the pathways?
    • If you wish to take on something new, what do you want to stop doing in the school/college/unit, or what do you want to pause?
    • From an operational standpoint, what procedures, policies, protocols do you wish to address to help move along the pathways?
    • What other parts of the university need to be considered for you to make changes/adjustments/additions? UTech? Institutional Research? Libraries? Other?
  • What kinds of costs might your alignment entail? What portion of these costs will the school/college/unit cover and what portion will you be requesting from the Think Big Alignment Fund? Please attach a one page overview.

When this is submitted (by March 2, 2020), we will review the documents and then have specific discussions with the Provost one-on-one about how to move forward. Plans to implement and/or fund will be prioritized for the start of the July 1 fiscal year.

Submit your questions/comments using the form. Questions will be addressed in the order in which they are received. Thanks for your feedback!