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Posted: Sunday, February 23rd 2014 at 8:10am

UNG future plans open for ideas at town hall meetings

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DAHLONEGA - The University of North Georgia will hold a series of town hall meetings, one on each of the university's four campuses, for alumni and community members to provide input on plans for the future of the university. The meetings are scheduled March 3-10.

"Our university has a major impact on the economy, workforce and culture of this region, and we need to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of the state, this region and the country," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. "As we seek to provide a high-quality education to our students and serve the northeast Georgia region, it is vital that our faculty, staff and students and the members of the community have opportunities to provide their input and share their opinions."

UNG's Strategic Planning Steering Committee, a broad-based representation of about 60 faculty, staff and students from the university's four campuses, was formed last fall to guide the university through the current phase of the strategic planning process, "Engaging UNG: Planning for Excellence." Strategic planning is a collaborative process through which the university community develops a shared vision of its future and goals.

The committee is co-chaired by Dr. J.B. Sharma, professor and assistant department head of physics, and Dr. Andrew J. Leavitt, vice president for university advancement and professor of chemistry.

Town hall meetings are an important part of the strategic planning process for UNG to ensure that alumni and the community, in addition to university faculty, staff and students, have opportunities to learn about and comment on the work of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. In addition to the town hall meetings, comments also can be submitted via the strategic planning website.

Leavitt is leading the efforts to engage alumni, donors and the community and noted that members of the committee also will solicit feedback from their specific constituencies.

"A strategic plan without community input is only half a plan," Leavitt said. "Gathering input from people outside of the university will be critical for the committee to develop a strategic plan that best serves the university and our communities."

Community meetings are scheduled as follows and typically last about an hour:
•Dahlonega: Monday, March 3, 6 p.m. in Hoag Auditorium
•Gainesville: Tuesday, March 4, 6 p.m. in Continuing Education/Performing Arts 108
•Cumming: Thursday, March 6, 6 p.m. in room 125
•Oconee: Monday, March 10, 6 p.m. in the Student Resource Center room 522

Click here for campus maps and directions to all four campuses. Also, plans are in development for an online town hall meeting that would provide opportunities for alumni to participate, regardless of their geographic location. Details on this event will be announced soon.

Similar meetings are being held for faculty, staff and students throughout the semester, Sharma said, as the committee is dedicated to giving people "ownership" of the strategic plan.

"We will be sure that the conversation reaches out to every nook and cranny," Sharma said. "If there is a personal buy-in at every level, it will translate into success over the long term, so it is very important that people have a sense that they spoke up and were heard."

The committee, which will continue meeting throughout the semester, will split into various subcommittees and work on focusing the strategic themes identified in this fall's visioning process into an initial draft of the strategic plan.

As the committee drafts elements of the plan, it will vet concepts by presenting ideas to "sounding boards" of campus and community constituents and through the strategic planning website. The steering committee will submit a strategic plan to Dr. Patricia Donat, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, by April 30. The next step will be identifying an implementation committee who will begin putting UNG's strategic plan into action.

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