Trustees receive update on strategic plan

Hershey, Pa. — Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson updated the University's Board of Trustees Friday (March 20) on the work of the University Strategic Planning Council to create a new strategic plan fulfilling a vision for Penn State to be "a global university committed to excellence, with a passion for creating knowledge and educating students to be leaders for a better tomorrow."

Work on the new University Strategic Plan began in early 2008. The efforts of seven task forces and 45 unit plans from across the University focused on a recurring theme of priorities for excellence.

Erickson noted that in creating the plan, which will undergo an additional phase of feedback and revision before it is presented for approval in May, planners sought to make students and their education paramount, and to advance the commitment to academic excellence in research and service that has long been the foundation for success at the University.

Seven goals, each with a number of strategies, were developed for the University for the upcoming academic year through 2013-14 and beyond:

• Enhance student success: Strategies include expanding learning outcomes assessment; expanding and promoting opportunities for students to engage in research; improving student transition experiences; encouraging better advising and student ownership of education; promoting and supporting high-quality graduate education; and assisting students in exploring ethical issues

• Advance academic excellence and research prominence: Strategies include focusing on faculty recruitment and retention; fostering research, outreach and instruction in emerging, interdisciplinary fields; enhancing the College of Medicine's research and clinical capabilities in central Pennsylvania; consolidating programs through targeted reviews; and acquiring additional endowments to enhance faculty and student quality.

• Realize Penn State's potential as a global university: Strategies include establishing the Office of Global Programs as the locus of the University's international strategy; building international partnerships; expanding study abroad and visiting scholar opportunities; infusing international topics and experiences into instruction; and increasing international student enrollment.

• Maintain access and affordability and enhance diversity: Strategies include positioning Commonwealth Campuses for access and affordability; investing selectively in capital improvements and student services at the campuses; allocating additional funds for need-based student aid; sustaining investments in the current capital campaign; and building on the Framework to Foster Diversity.

• Serve the people of Pennsylvania and beyond: Strategies include delivering more Penn State programming through technology and media, sharing and consolidating regional resources and creating a more entrepreneurial approach to service delivery.

• Use technology to expand access and opportunities: Strategies include expansion and improvement of online educational offerings and investment in a robust IT infrastructure that is protected for security and integrity

• Control costs and generate additional efficiencies:
Strategies include improving instructional productivity and use of facilities, reducing the rate of increase of health care costs, modifying central recycling and rewarding innovation while fostering sustainable environments.

Erickson added that individual unit plans submitted to the planning council contained many common themes that focused on enhancing faculty strength, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and internationalization, among other topics.

An emphasis also was placed on increasing online educational programming and the World Campus, undergraduate research and graduate education, the recruitment and retention of students, and a continuing commitment to diversity.

Before submitting a final plan for approval, Erickson said that in addition to soliciting further feedback from a wider group of University stakeholders, general cost and savings parameters will be explored for various strategies, measures for tracking progress will be further developed, and prospective timelines for strategies will be noted.

Penn State faculty, staff and students are invited to read the most recent draft of the forthcoming strategic plan on the Web site of the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment at http://www.psu.edu/president/pia/.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010