Strategic planning will involve campus, community, you

by Office of the Chancellor | February 12, 2010

Let’s be clear: It’s not that we don’t have an idea of where we’re headed. We do. This institution has many capable people who, collectively, have done much to advance the University over many years. We have any number of strategic initiatives and focused plans — the facilities master plan, the growth agenda, academic plans and more — that in various ways address the future.

But it’s my observation, after the better part of a year as chancellor, that we don’t have a comprehensive strategic plan. We don’t have a cohesive framework for pulling it all together and articulating a clear, shared vision. We don’t have a strategic plan that will drive the budget over the next decade.

I have participated in, or led, strategic planning at previous institutions and seen it done well, very well and not so well. I’m also aware of the general skepticism that sometimes such plans are huge time drains that later wind up on the shelf, gathering dust. As I assured the faculty and staff at our recent convocation, we simply don’t have time to waste on something we’re not going to use.

I am interested in big ideas broadly stated — “themes,” we’ll call them — that are in keeping with our mission, responsibilities, and culture. Strategic planning themes are targeted initiatives and areas for enhancement, special attention and investment. They might respond to a competitive advantage we enjoy, a threat, an opportunity. Some will reflect existing initiatives and success stories, others will invite new directions. During my brief conversation last month with members of the Faculty Senate, I was hesitant to offer an example of what such a theme might be. My experiences should not color the observations and ideas you might bring forward when invited to begin.

Actually, the invitation starts today. It’s our intent to begin scheduling working sessions and group conversations. I’d also love to sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk about it with you. Or, please, take the time to respond to the “Campus Question” elsewhere in this newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you.

— Thomas Harden

Related Links