Strategy 2025 Documents

CAD Listening Session Recap

Members of the Council of Academic Deans (CAD) and other campus leaders attended their listening session in person on April 18. Facilitator Chris Nelson, chief university relations officer, introduced the session by explaining the goal of gathering feedback to inform the U’s strategic plan. The group answered questions about the U’s strengths, differentiators, and priorities, then broke into groups centered on specific topics. Below are summaries of each discussion.

Advancing Research: Participants emphasized the need to define and measure research impact and communicate about it more strategically to the community. They discussed the importance of maintaining high research standards, measured by journal rankings and success in obtaining funding. There was mixed consensus on post-tenure policies but strong agreement on incentivizing faculty and graduate students through higher salaries and other measures. The group highlighted the need for strategic grant application efforts and effective communication of research outcomes.

Community Outreach and Engagement: Participants emphasized the importance of listening to community members about their needs, noting that respect and understanding is crucial to the U’s reputation and relationships. Participants felt the U should approach its relationship with certain groups, such as tribal communities, with the same level of care as the university’s relationship with donors. Other suggestions included forging more relationships across the state and in rural areas; finding more ways to bring the community to campus; and centralizing and coordinating community relations efforts.

Societal Impact: Participants seemed to agree that the university’s societal impact is greatest where we are deeply engaged with the community and where we are leading out on technological advancements. Specific examples of the U’s impact included the Responsible AI initiative, air quality research, and expanding mental health research. The group felt the university could make improvements in these areas: focus more on supporting rural communities; listen to community members about their needs; focus research more deeply in fewer areas; quantify and communicate societal impact; and better support underserved students.

Faculty Retention, Recruitment, and Well-Being: The discussion centered on challenges faculty face. Participants noted a lack of alignment across departments and colleges in efforts and outcomes regarding recruitment, retention, and well-being. They pointed to a lack of gender and racial/ethnic diversity as a primary barrier to recruitment and retention. Workload was seen as a primary barrier to faculty wellbeing, and unclear expectations are seen as a source of distress. Participants called for strategic goals to include a reduction of administrative burdens for faculty.

Staff Retention, Recruitment, and Well-Being: Participants agreed that the U’s location allows opportunities to enjoy life outside of work, especially in regard to outdoor recreation. Groups mentioned a lack of career paths or opportunities, which leads to burnout. High housing prices in Salt Lake City cause a financial burden for some staff and lead to decreased retention. They would like to see more ways of recognizing staff contributions.

Graduate Student Enrollment and Success:Participants noted the U’s high rankings and Utah’s thriving economy served as strong attractors to graduate students, although the gender wage gap makes Utah less attractive to women. Participants mentioned Utah has a reputation of not being safe, inclusive, or welcoming to certain groups, including women, international students, and students of color. Graduate students face these challenges: inadequate stipend money to afford cost of living; lack of access to health care; and lack of a graduate student community. Participants mentioned downsides to working as a teaching assistant: low pay, extra time and effort, and lack of career-building benefits.

Undergraduate Student Enrollment and Success: Participants mentioned several recruitment challenges, including an unclear brand identity and trying to appeal to too many audiences. Participants proposed leveraging the alumni network, enhancing the university’s image, boosting athletic programs, and increasing on-the-ground recruitment efforts. Retention challenges include students undergoing personal challenges, religious commitments, inadequate advising, and mental health issues. The group suggested improving access to mental health resources, better informing students of their academic options, and reallocating resources to support struggling students rather than focusing solely on high achievers.

Communications and Marketing: Please note that there were no participants at this breakout table.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *