The University of Massachusetts System
The example below illustrates one method for: 1) identifying strategic priorities at a public research university (i.e., the University of Massachusetts System), and 2) aligning the Climate Commitment with these priorities. Sustainability Consultant Emilie Rex created this resource in partnership with sustainability liaisons from three of the five University of Massachusetts campuses.
Compiling Data Sources
The University of Massachusetts System appointed Marty Meehan president in 2015. Due to his recent appointment, executive leaders have yet to create a strategic plan for the institution. Given these conditions, we developed a list of data sources, including presidential speeches and news releases to assess the values that may guide this planning effort. The preliminary analysis below relies most heavily on these speeches as sources. Please note that the priorities below are the result of a brief and independent analysis and do not necessarily reflect the official views or priorities of the institution.
Reviewing Sources and Categorizing Potential Priorities into Areas
We began by reviewing the compiled sources, pulling quotes directly from the sources and combining them with others to narrow down clear potential objectives. After pulling sufficient source material, we began:
- Organizing the information. We analyzed the objectives and grouped them into priority areas (e.g. research and innovation, diversity and inclusion) and sub-areas (e.g. affordability within educational value) where applicable.
- Determining the quality of the data. We reordered source material to provide a general sense of the data quality. Because we relied primarily on presidential speeches-not consensus-driven or community-generated priorities that might result from a strategic planning process-you will notice that most of the data is labeled as low quality
- UMass System Analysis.
After grouping objectives into priority areas, we were able to create a visual map which helps illustrate the relationship between priority areas, sub-areas, and objectives. The map also shows how some objectives or sub-areas overlap (e.g., affordability’s connection to both educational value and diversity and inclusion), indicating a shared priority.
Next, we reviewed each priority to determine whether the Commitments or commitment-related activities can contribute or support that priority and, if so, how. Remember, each of these statements aims to answer the question: “What value do the commitments add to this priority?” These are scenarios under which UMass staff could:
- Make a case for the value of past, existing, or future commitment-related programming to core institutional objectives;
- Identify connections with new stakeholders and strengthen sustainability or Commitment-related organizational structures;
- Collaborate with executive leadership on potential areas where sustainability or Commitment-related objectives could support and/or be integrated into system or campus-level strategic planning efforts; or
- Deepen stakeholder understanding of the role of the Commitments in supporting institutional priorities, among others.