Listening Tour underway to plan for UH Hilo’s new Strategic Plan

The listening tour is a series of meetings with stakeholder groups from across and beyond campus. The sessions are organized around a series of questions rooted in Appreciative Inquiry, especially effective in engaging networks of people.

By Kathleen Baumgardner, Strategic Planning Project Manager.
This is the first in a series about the planning process for the new UH Hilo Strategic Plan.

Kathleen Baumgardner
Kathleen Baumgardner

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is preparing to develop a new strategic plan. Currently, preplanning evidence is being collected through a listening tour and online survey questions. More than 40 listening tour sessions will be hosted in order to seek input about UH Hilo from faculty, staff, students and the broader community. The ultimate goal is not to develop a plan that sits on a shelf, but rather a plan that we put to work each day in order to achieve our aspirations.

What is a listening tour?

The listening tour consists of a series of meetings with various stakeholder groups from across and beyond campus. The sessions are organized around a series of questions rooted in Appreciative Inquiry, especially effective in engaging networks of people. This is a rich process because it intentionally engages people with varied perspectives, making the conversation robust, sparking fresh ideas and stimulating creativity and conversation. Appreciative Inquiry invites participants to create the future they want by building on the best of the past. In the process, problems are identified and participants consider how weaknesses might be overcome by strengths. When people begin to talk with one another, they co-construct the structures, strategies, and processes needed to move forward.

How might I participate in online surveys?

The listening tour will provide a large body of information. But some who wish to participate may be unable to attend a session, they may feel more comfortable participating in an online survey, or may have thoughts to share after participating in a session. For this reason, an online survey has been created to mirror the listening tour. This survey follows the listening tour questions, but also provides an opportunity for people to share other comments anonymously regarding UH Hilo or the listening tour in general.

In addition, there is a Question of the Month posted on the Strategic Planning website. This is a quick way to provide critical input regularly. November and December questions remain open for response, in addition to the January question. At the end of each month, common threads or results are posted.

  • November Question of the Month: What do you value most about UH Hilo?
  • December Question of the Month: What “breakthrough achievement” would you either love to help make happen or love to see happen at UH Hilo?
  • January Question of the Month: What do you feel are the most promising areas in which to expand collaborations between UH Hilo and the Hilo community?

Responses to these surveys from all UH Hilo stakeholders—faculty, staff, students, alumni, business partners, and community members—are most welcome.

What will happen in the coming months?

We can never predict the source of great ideas, but if we take the time to listen to the voices and perspectives of UH Hilo ‘ohana members, we may uncover new ideas, directions and synergies. A summary of each listening tour session is being posted on the UH Hilo Strategic Planning website.

Ultimately, these listening tour discussions and the evidence gathered through surveys will help create a foundation for an inclusive and living strategic planning document for our campus. During the strategic planning listening tour sessions, important high-point stories are also being uncovered. Follow up interviews have been helpful in developing texts so we might share these stories more widely.

Among the members of the UH Hilo ‘ohana, listeners of the tour outcomes will include our new UH Hilo chancellor and a Strategic Planning Committee that will be formed once the permanent chancellor is in place. This committee will consider and review the notes of all meetings as well as a summary report that will help inform the development of the next UH Hilo Strategic Plan. Ultimately, the strategic plan developed will be implemented, monitored and revised on an ongoing basis so it will be effective and guide us through the years to come.

Who might I contact for further information?

You are welcome to contact me with questions and comments.

I began work as UH Hilo’s Strategic Planning Project Manager in October 2018. My husband and I moved to the island in August 2017 from Colorado. While there, we cofounded and operated a nonprofit organization, a donationonly farm-to-fork restaurant that has served nearly 90,000 meals. In addition to nonprofit strategic planning, I served as the Director of Strategic Communications for Colorado State University’s College of Engineering. I worked on two strategic plans at Colorado State and another while serving as the Director of Communications at Knox College in Illinois. Outside of work, I enjoy photography, snorkeling, hiking, and listening to the ocean each evening.

Many thanks to all who have participated in strategic planning activities thus far. I have enjoyed listening, and I look forward to working with all members of the UH Hilo community in the coming months.


-From the January 2019 issue of UH Hilo faculty newsletter Ka Lono Hanakahi.

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