Strategic plan addresses faculty recruitment, research, student experience
Board discusses three strateiges from 15-part roadmap set to be presented in November
During the Board of Visitors’ meetings last Thursday and Friday, faculty members described three strategies of the University’s 15-part strategic plan — Research Infrastructure and Services, High-impact Educational Experiences and Continuous Active Recruiting of faculty.
Board members had been briefed on three other strategies included in the plan during their August retreat, and the final product is set to be presented at the November board meeting.
The strategic plan will act as a roadmap for the University’s future, laying out specific goals aimed at directing the University toward excellence. The plan has been in development for about a year.
In a meeting on Friday held with the full board, University President Teresa Sullivan stressed that the plan was not made to solve any specific problems, but is rather “a plan to fortify and further distinguish what is already one of the strongest, best managed, most financially stable, and most affordable universities in the country.”
Board member Frank Atkinson, a co-chair of the Special Committee on Strategic Planning, said the plan will always be evolving, even when the final version is presented to the Board.
“The process is never complete,” Atkinson said. “November will be a milestone, but not the end of the process.”
One of the strategies presented to the Board was called Continuous Active Recruitment of Faculty. Through this strategy, the University will seek faculty on a rolling basis as opposed to hiring in waves and waiting for candidates to apply themselves.
Nursing School Dean Dorrie Fontaine emphasized the importance of ongoing faculty recruitment.
“We want to leave episodic recruitment,” Fontaine said. “What this really is is courtship — I’ve been told to stop calling it stalking.”
The Board also heard about a strategy entitled Research Infrastructure and Services. The strategy seeks to give University researchers the tools they need to become global leaders in their fields and compete for grant money. Vice President for Research Tom Skalak said the revised strategy would allow University faculty to conduct the research they want to.
“We will know if we’ve succeeded if in three to five years from now we have created an environment that allows our faculty and students to be the most competitive and collaborative they can [and] create the best research they can,” Skalak said.
Board member Edward Miller challenged University administrators about the issue of grant amounts, wanting to make sure this strategy included the right kind of investment.
“Top institutions [are] getting grant dollars, and we’re not,” he said. “What is impeding researchers in getting grants? … We need to know that grants are increasing. We need to watch the trends. We need to know what [the National Institute of Science] is funding.”
Board members also heard about a strategy entitled High-Impact Educational Experience. This strategy will focus on creating experiences for students — in the form of research, capstone projects, trips or internships among other things — that are both memorable and beneficial to job preparation.
“Increasing opportunities will require having faculty share expertise with students, engaging students in their own scholarly research and travelling with students to explore teaching and research in an international setting,” said Maurie McInnis, the vice provost for academic affairs.
During the Thursday Committee meeting, the Board asked questions about the financial costs of the plan. Pat Hogan, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said that his office was working on putting price tags on the various strategies, but that the information would have to wait until a later Board meeting. Several Board members and administrators noted the overlaps in costs between the strategies, possibly making numbers for each individual strategy misleading.