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UNM Grand Challenges Operational Plan

Phase One: Launch

President Garnett S. Stokes launched the University of New Mexico Grand Challenges Initiative on November 14, 2018. This initiative was strategically designed to be interdisciplinary, inclusive and transparent, and to meet the most important challenges faced by New Mexico. At the inaugural Launch event, President Stokes outlined her vision for the program and invited UNM researchers to submit proposals for UNM’s three challenges. This event attracted more than 180 participants from across UNM and from our many community partners. On January 17, 2019, fourteen Grand Challenges proposals were received, representing the creativity, dedication and collaboration of more than 160 faculty and staff members from 60 distinct UNM departments, schools and colleges. From these 14 outstanding proposals, President Stokes utilized reviews and the recommendations of the Grand Challenges Steering Committee to select Sustainable Water Resources, Substance Use Disorders, and Successful Aging. These three challenges represent leverage UNM’s unique research expertise to address important statewide priorities.

Phase Two: Out of the Box

During the week of February 18, 2019, UNM’s three Grand Challenges research teams convened to expand upon their proposals. With the help of an external consultant, the teams further refined their conceptual goals, developed their broad research frameworks, and explored methods for expanding research participation for more New Mexicans. On February 20, 2019, each of the three UNM Grand Challenges teams presented their preliminary plans to the campus at the Grand Challenges Out of the Box event. During this event, teams also solicited feedback from participants.

Phase Three: Synergy

UNM Grand Challenges is currently in Phase Three. During the next year, UNM will develop mechanisms to build momentum and share our excitement. We will solicit extramural funding to support new research projects. We will develop and refine mechanisms to measure progress, and we will leverage the Challenges to enrich education and community connections. Strategies for each of these goals includes:

Build Momentum and Buzz:

  • Develop a comprehensive web presence for each of the three UNM Grand Challenges, including contact information for their leadership teams (Summer, 2019).
  • Develop a Grand Challenges Lecture Series (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020).
  • Create, publish and maintain an online list of individual Challenges projects (including those focused on research, policy and practice) (Spring 2020 and Summer 2020).
  • Develop mechanisms for regularly sharing with UNM and the public the activities and accomplishments of each challenge team (Summer 2019).
  • Develop a GC Orientation mechanism for new Department Chairs, Associate Deans of Research, Deans, and other key administrators (Summer 2019).

Seek Extramural Research Funding:

  • Create a GC infrastructure for promoting and ensuring regular short- and long-term progress towards seeking extramural funding for all three Challenges (Summer 2019).
  • Develop a Research, Policy and Practice roadmap(s) for each Challenge, designed to explain each team’s approach (Summer 2019).
  • Develop a Short-term and Long-term extramural funding solicitation plan for each research team (Spring and Fall 2019).
  • Spend Grand Challenges seed funding to better prepare the research teams to apply for and receive extramural funding (Spring, Summer and Fall 2019).
  • Create extensive external potential partner lists for each Challenge (Spring 2020).
  • Develop attribution guidelines for GC work sponsored by, or generated by, Grand Challenges research teams (Spring 2020).

Measure and Report Progress:

  • Develop, publish and report on metrics for measuring Grand Challenges impact and progress (Fall 2019).
  • Continue to further refine and publish long-term goals for each Challenge, utilizing a SMART goal approach (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020).
  • Create, publish and maintain a list of synergy outcomes (things that happen specifically because of Grand Challenges, that may not have happened without GC) (Spring 2020).
  • Host an annual Grand Challenges Progress Symposium, where GC teams will present their progress to the UNM and the public, and solicit feedback (Spring 2019).

Engage Students and the Community:

  • Convene Education and Community Connections Committees (Spring 2019).
  • Develop and implement education and community connections strategies for 2019-20 Academic Year (Fall 2019 institutional and Spring 2020).
  • Work with the UNM Faculty Resource Development Office to expand and tailor UNM’s extensive Broader Impact website and resources to further support GC researchers in applying for external funding (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020).
  • Create an infrastructure for incorporating volunteers (i.e., retirees, alumni, lab employees, and community partners) into educational programming (i.e., mentoring, research projects, and shadowing) (Spring 2020).
  • Develop mechanisms for undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to the research efforts of the Challenge teams (Spring and Summer 2020).

Email us today and ask how we are making progress on any element(s) of this plan at:


Phone: (505) 277-1761