WRC unveils new strategic plan

By Joel Larson
The Water Resources Center staff and leadership are proud to introduce our strategic plan to guide our work and collaborations over the next several years.

The purpose of the plan is twofold. For our partners, it communicates the range of work we do and our specific niche at the nexus of water, land, and people. In doing so, we hope to spark conversations about how we can collaborate to address the range of water issues facing the state. For our staff, it provides a framework for their programs and activities and serves a guide for planning our work across the spectrum of research, education, outreach, training, and Extension. As many of you know, the Center started developing this plan in the fall of 2016. A significant part of the process was gathering input from a range of external stakeholders, University partners, and our own staff. The plan and its content reflect the range of feedback that we received.

Based on what we heard, we identified a formal mission for the WRC: “To advance the science of clean water for Minnesotans through innovation, workforce development, and knowledge exchange.” The mission is supported by a foundation of five values: Excellence, creativity, partnership, teamwork, and results.

The plan also notes that our current expertise falls into several topic areas, each of which focuses on the intersection of land, water, and people:

  • Urban stormwater
  • Agriculture and rural watershed
  • Decentralized wastewater
  • Groundwater and drinking water
  • Surface water and aquatic ecosystems

The remainder of the plan details a series of goals that apply to each of these areas of expertise:

  • Research: Lead and enable innovative problem-driven research, building a trusted knowledge base to inform water resources management in Minnesota and beyond.
  • Convey: Convey results of water-related research in Minnesota and beyond, working in partnership with University of Minnesota faculty and other organizations.
  • Train: Invest in Minnesota’s clean water future by developing the current and next generation of water resources professionals.
  • Connect: Connect diverse stakeholders, including underrepresented voices, to generate new insights across fields of knowledge and enable innovation along the spectrum from research to practice.
  • Communicate: Maximize the impact and visibility of the Water Resources Center across the state and within the University through robust communication.

Each goal includes a selection strategies for achieving it, metrics that we will use to measure progress, and programs and projects to highlight our current work.

As you read the strategic plan, we hope that you can identify opportunities to collaborate with our partners, both within and outside of the University. The plan is intentionally short and is meant to be a document that our stakeholders and staff can return to as they consider how to advance our goals over the next several years. Our activities and programs will use this document to guide their work, and we hope to work with our partners across the state to build on our strong foundation of technical expertise and community connections.

We owe a tremendous thanks to the many people who provided advice and input on the plan, and over the next few months, we will be reaching out to those individuals and groups to review it with them. In the meantime, if you would like to talk about the plan, including how we might work together, please send a note to Jeff Peterson (jmpeter@umn.edu) and Joel Larson (jplarson@umn.edu). We look forward to hearing from you.

strategicplan