President Gamble Announces Organizational Initiative Called The Summit Team

UA System Announcement Feb. 13, 2014

I'd like to personally update you on a new decision-making process associated with the Shaping Alaska's Future initiative, the framework for developing UA's culture into one of continuous quality improvement and innovation.

Governance groups are reviewing the latest revisions to the Effects Statements, and will give us their feedback by Feb. 17. We expect the final list of "effects"--the outcomes we have agreed to achieve--to be approved by the Board of Regents (BOR) shortly after that.

One of the Effects Statements under Theme 5, Accountability to the People of Alaska, is this: "UA's collaborative decision-making across the system results in greater efficiency, effectiveness and quality." Like the otherEffect Statements, this one is based on the input received at the listening sessions and subsequent discussions by university leaders, including faculty, staff, and student leaders. We intend to achieve this effectthrough an organizational initiative called the Summit Team, which bringstogether the UA President, UA Vice President for Academic Affairs, thethree university Chancellors, and the three university Provosts.

We chose the name "Summit Team" in honor of the Latin "ad summum"emblazoned on the official University of Alaska seal, which appears on all UA diplomas.

This collaborative body will take up issues that cross university boundaries. The Summit Team is formed with the charge to make necessary decisions, when those are within the authority of its members, or to recommend changes to the BOR when new policy is needed. The role of shared governance in this endeavor is extremely important. Governance groups will have a much improved opportunity to advise the administration in accordance with their responsibility.

Collaboration among UA leaders is already yielding positive results. For example, we've already achieved consensus and have submitted, for governance consideration, a proposal to establish common student learning outcomes, course titles and numbering and placement (tools, scores and processes) for developmental/preparatory/ general education math and English courses across the three universities. Currently, these courses differ among our universities--and our stakeholders, mostly students but including legislators and the BOR, have told us the way we do it now creates unnecessary barriers to student progress. Students are increasingly mobile and online course offerings mean that many take courses from more than one of Alaska's universities. We anticipate that governance groups will move this proposal through in time to have it up for consideration by the BOR at its April meeting.

Here is another agreement among the members of the Summit Team. Calendar alignment between the three universities is an issue our students, parents and communities have been asking about for years. Many of our students, through eLearning, now take courses from more than one campus in a single semester. Having different calendars presents a serious hurdle to them and that problem will continue to grow. Shaping Alaska's Future is first and foremost about streamlining and removing administrative hurdles forstudents. Expect to see that proposal go to governance soon and to be up for BOR action during the April meeting also.

The ability to confront inefficiencies, student barriers, and outdated procedures with nimble decision-making across the entire system will showcase UA's student focus and the excellence of its three universities.

Thank you for your help in achieving the effects envisioned in the new Shaping Alaska's Future document and for the hard work you continue to do on behalf of UA.

Pat Gamble
UA President

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