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President's Opening Letter

Dear Members of the University Community:

I write to update you on the University’s strategic planning process, as I promised I would last spring.  During the summer, we have developed a process that will integrate several significant activities from the past few years to chart a clear and compelling path for the future. As we launch this planning project this summer, we are committed to a transparent process and regular communications with you. Here is what we have done over the summer and how you can participate during August and as the academic year begins.

Our objective is to build on our substantial planning platform, data and other market analyses, and our aspirations to create a campus-wide approach for a strong, stable, and sustainable institution. Thanks to the groundbreaking decisions of the past few years--including Foundation of the Future, the marketing and branding effort, and the University’s Facilities Master Plan--we can move forward more quickly to respond to the unprecedented changes that are affecting all of higher education.  My hope is to involve all segments of the University in this planning effort.

Many of the Foundation of the Future recommendations, from both the academic and administrative task forces, have already been implemented.  The rest will be decided and implemented by early September.  Collectively, they provide a strong base on which to begin our planning.  Your participation will be central to our success as we move forward. I encourage you to contribute your perspectives as opportunities arise during the process.  We have developed a dedicated website ( that will provide ongoing updates, reports, and events – such as focus groups, town hall meetings, and other activities for community engagement.

The final plan will focus on the few most important institution-wide opportunities that will strengthen the University and solidify our position as a leader in private higher education. The plan will not be a “wish list” but a set of integrated strategic directions. We have retained The Napa Group to facilitate the project. They are consultants specializing in higher education strategy, leadership, and organizational design, and they bring extensive experience with institutions of all sizes, alumni associations, and advancement organizations. You can read more about them here:

I will personally lead this effort, and the provost, the University’s vice presidents, and I will be responsible for constructing, implementing, and developing assessment methods for the final plan.  The Board of Regents Strategic Planning Committee will oversee the entire effort, and the Board of Regents has the final authority for approving and overseeing the implementation of the plan.  

We have been using the summer to gain early perspectives through “listening” and “visioning” sessions (individual meetings, focus groups, and workshops with regents, deans, faculty, and staff), conducting online surveys with faculty and staff, and assembling relevant data and analyses. You will be hearing more soon about the surveys.  When the students return in the fall, we will engage their thinking as well. All this information will allow us to plan in a way that makes sense for the University of Hartford.

Once the fall semester begins, we will organize a series of cross-functional teams to assist the provost, the vice presidents, and me in creating initiatives and actions for planning goals. These may include faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members, depending on the theme.  We intend to develop and present draft plans to the campus community during the fall semester, and encourage discussion and improvement of the plans. By December we expect to have a final plan. With that, we will build a five-year implementation plan, submit the new strategic plan package to the Board of Regents in February 2014, and be ready to launch the first initiatives and actions.

We have addressed many difficult issues at the University of Hartford over the past few years, and now I am confident that we are prepared to chart our path forward as a community with optimism, success, and, most importantly, your participation.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and return to campus ready for what will be a busy and productive fall.


Walter Harrison