UM President Sheila Stearns sets strategic plan

Montana Living – University of Montana President Sheila Stearns launched spring semester with a State of the University Address focused on tackling UM’s enrollment challenge and producing a new strategic plan.
            Stearns gave her presentation Jan. 19 in the University Center Ballroom before a packed house of UM faculty, staff and students and Missoula community members. Her remarks were followed by an exercise in which attendees brainstormed UM’s vision for future success and prioritized University goals.
            “‘We Are Montana’ is not just a slogan,” Stearns said. “The University of Montana is proud of its heritage and particularly proud of its students and alumni. We are resilient in the face of current challenges. We are skeptical about quick fixes, and we are fundamentally confident about our future, just as UM President Oscar Craig was over a century ago.”
Highlighted the need to budget conservatively. She said UM needs to make data-driven decisions based on the best assumptions available about enrollment trends. She noted that, due to continued large graduating classes and smaller freshman classes, the downward enrollment trend likely will continue for the next few years.

            The slideshow Stearns used during her presentation is online at
            The “visioning exercise” after her remarks was led by UM’s Strategic Planning Coordinating Council, which spent this past fall gathering feedback about the current state of the University. The exercise was intended to help design an aspirational statement of what UM wants to be in the future.
            “A vision statement defines what our future will look like if we fulfill our mission,” said Brock Tessman, dean of UM’s Davidson Honors College. “The statement should inspire and challenge us, providing a view of ourselves that will attract and retain talented faculty, staff and students.”
            He also invited exercise participants to prioritize the most important ideas and goals for the vision statement.

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