Trustees committee hears progress report on University’s strategic plan

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s next strategic plan, expected to be complete in summer 2015, will aspire to capitalize on the collective sense that the University is poised to take its next great leap forward, the Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long Range Planning heard on Thursday (Nov. 14).

Provost Nicholas P. Jones presented an update on the two-year strategic planning process, an effort to succeed “Priorities for Excellence,” the existing plan. Based on his talks with community members University-wide after arriving as the provost in 2013, Jones noted a “strong desire across the community for impact. Penn Staters want their work and contributions to make a difference.” As a result, he has suggested that the existing plan’s vision statement be improved by placing more emphasis on the concept of the University’s impact on the constituencies it serves, through its world-class research and its translation; through the quality, scope, reach and accessibility of its teaching and educational programs; and through the University community’s service and outreach activities; to achieve this, Penn State will become a better place.

Penn State’s developing strategic plan, which will guide the next five to 10 years of its endeavors, will place even more emphasis on the University’s impact on the constituencies it serves:

•  through research and its translation;
•  through the quality, scope, reach and accessibility of its teaching and educational programs; and
•  through the University community’s service and outreach activities;

to achieve this, Penn State will become a better place.

Jones also noted that of significant influence on the strategic planning process has been the set of core values developed from findings of its University-wide Values and Culture Survey

“These values have to be part of the underpinning of our strategic plan,” he said. “This is what we believe and what guides us every day, so this has to be part of the plan. It’s actually terrific that we went through this process while we’re doing strategic planning.”

Since spring 2014 presentations by the provost on the evolving strategic planning process, institution-wide strategic priorities have been refined and language strengthened. At this stage of the strategic planning process, they are:

•  Enhancing our health and well-being;
•  Managing and stewarding our resources;
•  Transforming education and access;
•  Leveraging our digital assets; and
•  Exploring and promoting our cultures.

President Eric Barron’s six University imperatives have been incorporated “beautifully and seamlessly,” the provost noted, as part of the University’s foundational principles, which include:

•  Excellence;
•  Discovery;
•  Access and affordability;
•  Student career success;
•  Diversity and inclusion;
•  Sustainability;
•  Global engagement;
•  Engaged scholarship and student engagement;
•  Supporting Pennsylvania and its economic development;
•  Collaboration and partnerships; and
•  Impact and accountability.

Fourteen supporting strategies have been identified that fall under three primary categories: academic infrastructure and support, outreach and engagement, and business processes.

Next steps in the strategic planning process include careful review of the 48 unit-, college- and campus-level strategic plans, which will help inform and refine the University plan. Eight working groups, each co-chaired by a dean and a chancellor, are at work to flesh out plan concepts more fully. Through December, the working groups are focusing on strategic themes and supporting strategies, to include three-page statements on the meaning of each theme, the University’s aspirations for that theme, and which metrics, targets and timelines should be attached to it.

By May 2015, the working groups are expected to have promoted connections and collaborations across and among the 48 individual unit plans, through the department level, and planning will proceed toward furthering conversation to identify and engage stakeholders. Active involvement will range from faculty, staff and students to trustees, donors and advisory boards, and from leaders of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Penn State alumni around the world.

A University Strategic Planning Council of approximately 30 members will be identified and engaged in the very near term. Council representatives will be drawn from across the institution and its constituencies, and their work will steer the strategic planning process through to its summer 2015 conclusion and subsequent activation.

Jones emphasized that engaging with all of these groups and listening to their ideas during the next nine months, and determining how best to receive their input, is an important part of the strategic planning process.

“We need to make sure that this plan is not only something with which our community engages. We ultimately need our community to own the plan — to wake up every day for the next five to 10 years realizing that they are going to work or going to class to advance the mission of this institution through the strategies that we have identified,” Jones said. 

Last Updated November 16, 2014