Town Hall meetings offer updates on strategic plan, Improve ND

Author: Carol C. Bradley

At the spring Town Hall meetings in late March, John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president, began by acknowledging the contributions of all staff members for the opportunities they make possible for students, and “the way you touch the lives of the young men and women who study here.”

The Town Hall meetings offered an opportunity to inform the campus community of various projects and initiatives coming up this spring and summer. Affleck-Graves also discussed the results of the biennial Improve ND survey of campus services.

The University Strategic Plan

All units of the University have been working for the past 18 months on developing individual strategic plans, Affleck-Graves noted.

President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., he said, is in the process of synthesizing the plans of various units to develop a comprehensive University strategic plan. A preliminary version of the plan will be shared with the Board of Trustees in May, and Father Jenkins will present the plan to faculty and staff in Town Hall meetings this fall.

Improve ND survey evaluates services on campus

The University conducts two surveys in alternate years: ND Voice, which assesses how employees feel about working at the University, and Improve ND, which evaluates how we feel about the services we receive.

In fall 2011, the Improve ND survey was sent to more than 5,300 faculty and staff, with a response rate of 3,357, or 63 percent. “A great response for any type of survey,” Affleck-Graves said.

The most important result, he noted, is that 81 percent feel favorably toward the statement that Notre Dame is a friendly place. Also receiving high-percentage favorable responses: that Notre Dame has high standards of quality (75 percent) and that it’s easy to get help (73 percent).

“If you come to work and people are friendly, it impacts everything you do,” Affleck-Graves said. “Deep thanks to you for your attitude. When you’re friendly, you make life better. When you smile, it makes this a nice place to work.”

Campus Safety: Affleck-Graves emphasized safety as a critical campus function.

“The No. 1 thing we must do is keep students, faculty, staff and visitors safe.” Ninety-three percent of those surveyed felt they work in a safe environment.

Some additional education may be needed to reach the 21 percent of staffers who don’t know where to go in the event of a workplace injury—currently that’s University Health Services in St. Liam Hall, but in July those with injuries will report to the new Wellness Center on the northeast side of campus.

The survey also revealed that 12 percent don’t know how to contact the Notre Dame Security Police in the event of an emergency. Those in offices should call 911 from their office phones. But all should be aware that when using a cell phone, the fastest way to reach NDSP dispatch is by calling 574-631-5555.

On cell phones, 911 calls go to South Bend or Mishawaka police rather than Notre Dame, and to make things even more complicated, calls placed through some cell phone providers won’t go through without
the area code. It’s recommended that everyone on campus program their cell phones with the correct number to save time in the event of an emergency.

Other strengths and areas of potential improvement

The survey revealed other areas of strength—our beautifully landscaped and maintained grounds, classroom technology, the new VoIP phone technology and the wireless network, as well as the OIT Help Desk, library services, payroll services, St. Michael’s Laundry services, and the staff at the Morris Inn, Sorin’s and bookstore.

Areas for improvement include concerns about the temperature of workspaces, problems with cell phone service, parking availability and performance evaluations. Concerns regarding performance evaluations fell into three areas: a lack of meaningful feedback for performance improvement; rewarding and recognizing top performers and addressing the issue of poor performers; and the difficulties of using the Endeavor performance management system.

Another area of concern was value for price of some services. “People are very satisfied with the quality of service and the treatment they get,” Affleck-Graves said, “but they think it’s expensive.”

What are the next steps?

Units will discuss their individual reports and will provide action plans by April 13. Plans will be reported to the campus community in NDWorks and on Today@ND in late May.

Other updates

Sustainability strategy: A long-term sustainability plan has been developed for the University, Affleck-Graves announced. The plan is flexible, connected to our Catholic mission, comprehensive, achievable and affordable. “I must balance all of those needs,” he said. “We are very pleased with the plan. Strategic goals are to reduce emissions and conserve resources, reducing our carbon output by 50 percent per gross square foot by 2030.”

Ideas for saving energy and conserving resources can be submitted by clicking the “Press for Change” button on And with some 17,000 people on campus every day, he added, significant savings can be achieved simply by turning off computers at night.

Social Security number remediation: In order to reduce the chance of identity theft, the IT group is scanning computers and shared drives and removing Social Security numbers.

Construction updates: The Stayer Center for Executive Education will be finished in early 2013; the new campus Wellness Center—which will include a drive-through pharmacy—is scheduled to open in July. The Morris Inn will close for renovations in late October, after the fourth home football game. The renovations will include demolition of one wing and the addition of a new wing of rooms, a 300-seat ballroom and the relocation and expansion of Leahy’s.