With the launch of its new strategic plan, the Northwest Leadership Team has undergone personnel changes and a shift in focus for the next 10 years.
Former Vice President of Strategy and Operations Nola Bond left the University in June, according to a university news release, and former Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Juanita Simmons left the University in February.
Remaining members of the NLT from last year are President John Jasinski, Provost Jamie Hooyman, Vice President of Finance Stacy Carrick, Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Baker, Director of Athletics Andy Peterson and Vice President of External Relations and Director of the Northwest Foundation Lonelle Rathje.
The newest position to the NLT this year is Vice President of Culture Clarence Green, but he said he has been involved with the NLT as interim vice president of human resources, interim vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion and as the University Police chief over the past five years.
Green said the new position will allow him to focus on employee and student success by reinforcing what has worked in the past with establishing Northwest’s culture, while also creating a vision for where the University is headed in alignment with the new strategic plan.
“The primary goal is to focus on improving our employee engagement,” Green said. “Another goal is gathering information from faculty and staff in reference to the results from the (employee engagement) survey that will influence the actions that we will carry out to address.
As part of the evaluation of campus for the development of the new strategic plan, the University conducted an employee engagement survey. Peterson said while the survey was challenging and sometimes uncomfortable to review, it was important to the NLT that everyone on campus felt heard.
“I think as part of the NLT, changing the dynamic and the feel around campus, we want people to feel valued and feel included in decisions and understand how big of a role that they play in student success, it’s a challenge,” Peterson said.
Baker, who has been on the NLT for eight years, said that while the members of the team have changed, they have been unified in their focus on strategic planning.
Jasinski unveiled the University’s new strategic plan, Adventure 2030, which has been in the works for the past year, at the fall 2019 all-employee meeting Aug. 16. The new strategic plan focuses on the interconnected system of four elements: changing needs of learners, working closely with partners, making Northwest a great place to work and changing the higher education business model to make the University more efficient.
“(The new strategic plan) is really a tieback to everything you do, day in and day out, what’s the real purpose for it,” Peterson said. “Are you doing it because you’ve always done it? Are you doing it because it’s got a direct tie to one of our strategic goals or objectives, or are you doing it for you? I think the strategic plan allows us all to communicate with the same language across campus.”
Baker said while the strategic plan changes and evolves, it always ties back to student success. On the higher education side, he said success is recruitment, retention and graduation.
“The University strives to be as many things to as many people as possible, but we don’t always have unlimited resources,” Baker said. “And so the strategic plan … continues to help us focus on our efforts and our energies and efficiencies to make sure that our students get the services that they want, but also the services they need.”
However, Baker said his goal in his role is that students’ lives are enriched by their college experience.
“If I could have my one wish, it would be every student would graduate being comfortable in their own skin and just liking who they are for who they are,” Baker said. “It’s about people finding themselves and being comfortable with who they are and being tenacious and being full of grit to overcome obstacles and realize they can do well.”
Also unveiled at the all-employee meeting was the Northwest Foundation’s second campaign, Forever Green. Forever Green has been building in the background, Jasinski said at the meeting, for several years, and is now moving into its public phase Oct. 24.
The Forever Green campaign goal was to reach $45 million, and it has raised more than $42 million so far. Projects included in Forever Green include the Hughes Fieldhouse and the nearly complete new Learning and Teaching Center.
Rathje, a first-generation Northwest alumna, became a member of the NLT with the creation of the Division of External Relations June 2018. She said the division was created to strengthen ties with University stakeholders and unify all the teams who work with Northwest’s recruitment, marketing and branding.
Outside of her role on the NLT, Rathje has worked with the Northwest Foundation since her start at Northwest, and credits its success to the team of people she works with.
“Since my start in 2014 managing the University fundraising and the successful, collaborative approach to the Forever Green Campaign,” Rathje said. “To today as we find even more compelling ways to further enhance a successful sales culture, I am positive we have contributed to the vitality of Northwest.”