Planning is a Community Activity

January 31, 2011

Reminder: Town hall meeting on Strategic Initiatives
Friday, February 4th, at 8:30 am
Malott Room in the Kansas Union


KU Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Another exciting new semester is underway; the energy level is back. There is a buzz in the air at KU. During this 2010–2011 academic year, we are developing a strategic action plan to lead KU to a vibrant future. It will not be a plan that sits on a shelf and gathers dust, but rather it will be a focused and dynamic roadmap that guides our future decisions. Many faculty, staff, students, and alumni have joined our strategic planning groups to help forge a plan that will have a great positive impact on our collective future at KU.

Action items

In last Thursday’s state of the university address, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said, “Meaningful improvements in the university will only happen if the plan for those improvements is developed with the active involvement of the university community.“

The strategic planning steering committee currently needs your input and feedback in three important ways:

  1. Attend tomorrow’s interactive town hall meeting on strategic initiatives (Tuesday, February 1st, 3:30–5pm, Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union) and/or one of the coffee conversations we are hosting on February 4th, 7th, and 10th. See the January 12th issue of Provost eNews for details.
  2. Share your comments and ideas on the discussion boards and with members of the committees. There are currently three discussion topics on the discussion board:
    • preliminary ideas for strategic initiatives,
    • actions for the enabler goal of developing people, and
    • actions for the enabler goal of developing infrastructure.
  3. Participate in a discussion in your department or school on possible topics for a strategic initiative. Nominations (33 KB MS Word doc) are due February 28th.

A roadmap to the planning process

In this strategic planning process, everything we do is geared around involvement, transparency, and communication. Broad involvement of the greater KU community — including faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external partners — is integral to the process. A transparent process and extensive communication help ensure that we identify the best ideas for the plan and earn the respect and buy-in necessary for the plan’s successful implementation.

The strategic planning process involves the KU community through the interactions of the 130+ dedicated members of the steering committee and work groups. Even more significantly, we have also provided many opportunities for direct input, for example through focus groups and department-wide faculty and staff meetings devoted specifically to key topics such as prioritizing learning goals and brainstorming about strategic initiatives. We regularly communicate what we’re doing in a variety of ways, including Provost eNews, the strategic planning website, and my personal visits to the many departments, designated centers, and staff units on campus.

The rest of this issue of Provost eNews will explain the planning process to maximize the opportunities for input and interaction. The diagram below is an organizational overview of the two main components of our strategic action plan — goals/actions and strategic initiatives:

The Strategic Action Plan

Goals and actions

We are working on two sets of focused goals and actions. The primary goals are the ones that the work groups are addressing on the topics:

  1. Energizing the Educational Environment (EEE),
  2. Driving Discovery and Innovation (DDI),
  3. Engaging Scholarship for Public Impact (ESPI), and
  4. Elevating Doctoral Education (EDE).

In addition, the steering committee is looking at three goals that “enable” the success of the other four:

  1. Developing People,
  2. Developing Infrastructure, and
  3. Developing Resources.

Drafts of actions, timelines, and metrics for each goal will be completed by the end of February and then reviewed by the KU community. The diagram below illustrates the process. If you click on either of the two top-level boxes, you will be linked to the specific schedule for all its activities, plus access to a FAQ on the topic. Further information can be found on the work group page and the steering committee page.

Work Group GoalsEnabler GoalsGoals & Outcomes

Strategic initiatives

The second key piece of the strategic action plan will be the identification of strategic initiatives or themes where KU has special capabilities to address grand challenges facing society. Each strategic initiative will advance KU in the following important ways:

  • Address an emerging or escalating global grand challenge where KU has exceptional capabilities;
  • Build a scholarly community of excellence that challenges, engages, and inspires individuals from many disciplines around a common theme;
  • Enhance KU’s national and international visibility and impact;
  • Engage and motivate funding agencies, foundations, state and local government, corporations, alumni, and/or friends to provide much-needed resources; and
  • Provide our students with unique experiences that will position them as highly recruited and valued drivers and innovators of social and technological change.

Strategic initiatives will build links across KU’s schools and campuses. They will be based upon and further enhance our tremendous disciplinary strengths. They will help remove institutional silos that can make crosscutting activities difficult. The synergies as exemplified by The Commons and other centers on campus give glimpses of what can be achieved.

The diagram below illustrates the schedule of activities for nominating, choosing, and developing strategic initiatives. If you click here, you can access a FAQ list with more information, including the form to use for submitting a nomination.

Strategic Initiatives

Get involved

This planning process is your planning process. As mentioned above in the Action Items section, I urge you to get involved and share your thoughts, ideas, and passions in the meetings of your units, on the discussion boards, and with committee members. I hope to see many of you at tomorrow’s town hall meeting about the strategic initiative process. And I look forward to working together as a community to turn our plans and dreams into an exciting reality.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

This issue of Provost eNews as well as past ones can be found on the Provost eNews web page.

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