Trustees approve extension of University's current strategic plan through 2025

February 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – During its meeting Feb. 22, Penn State’s Board of Trustees gave its concurrence to a five-year extension of the university’s strategic plan.

The extension, approved on Nov. 15, 2018, by the board’s Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning, means the current plan for 2016-2020 will continue to guide institutional direction through 2025.

“We have a lot of momentum around many great ideas, and we need to see those through,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost. “Signature University initiatives such as One Penn State 2025 and The Penn State Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse are visionary and bold, and our strategic plan serves as a critical foundation for them. By extending the plan’s life span from 2020 to 2025, we will enable these and other initiatives to grow and thrive, and we can make more progress in critical areas of work.”

In conjunction with the extension, the University will conduct a formal, structured assessment of plan progress to date so adjustments can be made, as appropriate, at the institution and unit levels.

“We want to authentically evaluate progress related to the plan to determine next steps and identify future directions,” said Jones, who chairs the University Strategic Planning Committee. “We may have missed some important areas of focus during the past planning cycle that we should consider during the next six years.”

Published in February 2016, the University-wide strategic plan comprises five thematic priorities: Transforming Education, Enhancing Health, Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources, Advancing the Arts and Humanities and Driving Digital Innovation. Titled “Our Commitment to Impact,” the overarching plan was developed through a broad and inclusive two-year process that involved planning in 48 academic and administrative units.

Penn State’s visionmission and institutional values — Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Discovery, Excellence, and Community — are interwoven throughout the strategic plan. Six plan foundations— Enabling Access to Education, Engaging Our Students, Fostering and Embracing a Diverse World, Enhancing Global Engagement, Driving Economic Development and Ensuring a Sustainable Future — support the University’s core values and the plan, including how it is being implemented.

During the past two years, individuals across the University have been involved in plan implementation, using a formal request-for-proposal process to solicit or contribute ideas for impactful initiatives that align with the plan’s priorities. So far, 31 proposals have been approved for funding — pilot projects and programs that will advance transformative work by Penn State faculty, students and staff.

“The RFP process has enabled people across the University to actively and tangibly participate in plan implementation,” Jones said. “Funded projects will move the University forward in meaningful ways we could not have imagined, with more to come.” 

Thus far, approved seed grants will fund pilot projects ranging from a campus arts initiative and an academic advising study to a sustainable food systems program and a digital collaboratory for public health research.

In January, Jones hosted a town hall about strategic plan implementation, during which he emphasized the importance of pragmatic but visionary strategic planning during a period of rapid change in U.S. higher education.

“A robust plan provides guiding context. Without clear focus and consensus on a destination, it’s easy to go off course,” Jones said. “We’ve accomplished a lot, and we’re on a very good trajectory, but there’s more to be done.”

Last Updated February 22, 2019