Campus community encouraged to contribute to ongoing strategic action plan

Discussion boards, meetings gathering ideas

Faculty and staff have been working diligently for several months to shape a strategic action plan for KU. Now they are calling on the entire university community to help.

Provost Jeffrey Vitter, who launched the strategic action plan last fall, and colleagues recently held a town hall meeting to seek input and suggestions from across campus and are reaching out online as well. About 75 people attended the meeting, and a call has been issued for faculty, staff and student groups to nominate strategic initiatives online.

Mabel Rice

A handout circulated at the town hall meeting says, “A strategic initiative is a broad theme or emphasis where KU can make important and impactful contributions. It addresses a grand challenge whose complexity necessarily requires insights from multiple disciplines to solve.”

Nominations for strategic initiatives are open until Feb. 28. They can be made at provost.ku.edu/planning. Mabel Rice, the Fred and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies and co-chair of the strategic planning process, said deans from across campus will evaluate the initiatives throughout March and April with the help of a faculty review panel coordinated by the Driving Discovery and Innovation work group and a student panel. They will also consult with a panel of experts, including representatives from major funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and several others.

“Four work groups are involved in the overall strategic planning activities, to cover the areas of undergraduate education, research, engaged scholarship and public initiatives, and doctoral education. The research work group will assist with the evaluation of the strategic initiative proposals,” Rice said, referring to groups focusing on undergraduate education, research, engaged scholarship and public initiatives and doctoral education.

The nominated initiatives will then be reviewed by a steering committee, and three to five proposals will be named to a short list by May. By the fall, campuswide retreats will be held to cover each strategic initiative and decide how best to implement them.

Employees who haven’t been able to attend meetings can add their input or see what others have suggested, via discussion boards on the provost’s website. Discussion boards have been established for preliminary strategic initiative ideas and “enabler goals,” such as developing infrastructure, developing people and developing resources.

The plan’s timeline calls for a report to be issued following retreats to discuss the final initiatives. Rice said she has been encouraged by the amount of participation, noting hundreds of people have already weighed in one way or another. She praised the work groups for their dedication.

“The work groups have been fantastic,” Rice said. “They have been meeting on a regular basis and have volunteered to meet on weekends and be involved at the town hall meetings. Their dedication has been great.”

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