“Finding our vision”

October 28, 2016

Mark Hagerott - North Dakota University System Chancellor

Mark Hagerott – North Dakota University System Chancellor

Envision 2030 gathering different perspectives


Recently I had the opportunity to read a short essay that I felt was an appropriate analogy for our ongoing Envision 2030 initiative. The essay, titled “‘Find’ a vision. Not ‘have’ a vision” by Simon Sinek, touched on the importance of working with your team to ensure that you find a vision that fits your organization – it won’t do for any one person to just “have” that vision.

I believe that was analogous to the Envision 2030 effort, as this educational initiative has included many diverse perspectives from its beginnings earlier this year. Since then, the university system has heard from state leaders, legislators, agency heads, administrators, faculty, business owners, campus staffers, industry representatives, and students, who let us know what subjects they felt were most pressing for the vision of higher education in North Dakota.

“Envisioning” what will happen in the educational realm of our state out to the year 2030 couldn’t have been done by just one person. In his essay, Sinek noted that “I am more comfortable declaring that we should all find a vision” and I am inclined to agree. This is our shared future, where higher education goes, the workforce can go. Where the workforce goes, the students will follow. Where the students go, higher education needs to already be. The interconnectedness of those things – university system, workforce and student success – grow together, so it’s been imperative from the start that we share our visions with each other.

In May we gathered together to kick this effort off with a large undertaking in Bismarck in a meeting that was as inclusive as it could be. Our afternoon breakout sessions from that day continued forward recently with nine Pillar talks spread throughout our state to involve as many more people as possible in the goal-shaping and expectation-setting of higher education’s future. On the topics of agriculture, diversity, energy, health care, liberal arts & humanities, manufacturing, technology, tomorrow’s student and the whole student, the system was able to tap into conversations that felt like they had been going on for quite some time.

To be clear, those who involved themselves in the conversations had plenty of solid input that spoke to the breadth of their shared experiences and visions. Participants of these Pillars – or “Envisioners” – brought real world practicality, theoretical applications, legislative know-how, and exhaustive looks into changing program and student needs to this vision that one or two people couldn’t have done by themselves.

The hours of discussion resulted in a wealth of goals. They ranged from redefining what it means to be a traditional student to changing the course delivery methods to meet current needs to heightening collaboration and shared services and much, much more.

I’d like to thank you all for the hard work that you’ve provided so far, and encourage you all to keep Envisioning. This process is far from over, and we will continue the effort by engaging more stakeholders and legislators in the new year. Additionally, after the the legislative session concludes, we will have a firmer understanding into how the 65th Legislative Assembly will partner with us in shaping the direction of higher education. The myriad of goals could help strengthen our campuses, our programs, and the opportunities the students have for their own successful path through their public institution of choice.

We’re going to compile our findings so far, and it is our plan to assemble additional teams with expert knowledge to help develop more detailed reports from each Pillar topic.

Thanks for continuing Envision efforts to help develop a shared vision for 2030.