University of New Mexico Sustainability Strategic Plan – Earl W. Shank

An integral component to meaningful sustainability capacity building and
sustainable practices development at the University of New Mexico is a succinct sustainability strategic planning document. Herein, it will be referred to as the UNM Sustainability Strategic Plan (UNMSSP). The document will provide guiding principles and project prioritization so that as opportunities present themselves to the University and as funds become available, direction is provided to decision makers. To accomplish the UNMSSP must be easily usable, and the University must adopt the recommendation for ownership of certain practices and procedures.

Currently, the University’s most up to date such document is the 2009 “Climate Action Plan.” This document, though somewhat useful, has become out dated and lacks nimbleness; it is evidently not easily updated. To account for this the UNMSSP will be constructed in such a way that it can easily integrate updates and be deconstructed and reconstructed over time.

To accomplish the mission of developing the UNMSSP a two-part drafting strategy is being used. The first part, now mostly completed, involved stakeholder engagement through SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) focus group workshops. The construction of the document will be grounded in feedback from this series of sustainability SWOT focus group workshops carried out with various university stakeholders. To accomplish this, a working model of the University in regards to sustainability was developed (included in the appendix as Figure 1). The model looked to capture a basic organizational structure of each large stakeholder group that related to sustainability.

Groups were approached to meet and discuss, in the focus group setting, and were asked to describe sustainability at the University. The model being used for discussion is available as a separate document in the appendix as well. Separate SWOT analysis were developed from each of these focus groups and are available in the appendix.

The second part to draft the UNMSSP is the research/academic component of the project. This path involves investigating how, what, and where projects have been implemented at other universities in alignment with the feedback from the SWOT focus group workshops. This part will seek out opportunities and options for sustainable development at UNM and the implications from this development.

The combined effort will result in a comprehensive document that will act as a plan for sustainability development at the University of New Mexico. As a result of the methodology, it will contain a built in level of buy in from the actors involved. Stakeholders will have played a role in bringing forward the components of SWOT most important, in their mind, for pursuance.

The UNMSSP which will be presented to President Frank’s cabinet with the endorsement of Chris Vallejos, Associate Vice President for Institutional Support Services. Report contents will be further unpacked within this proposal and will allow potential further opportunity to reconsider the University of New Mexico’s Regent Policy on Sustainability.

Check out the full report.