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Strategic Planning at Drexel University

John A. Fry

The Drexel University Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 - Presidential Update

The strategic planning process for Drexel University is well underway as we consider how a great urban, comprehensive research university, committed to experiential learning, community partnerships, and global engagement, should fashion itself to best serve its stakeholders over the coming years. While our attention is focused on setting ambitious, yet realistic, goals for Drexel's next five years, we recognize that the steps we take today will shape the path that Drexel takes well into the future.

Our strategic planning team is fundamentally committed to a planning process that is transparent, engaging, and collaborative. Since the start of the process in January, I have held numerous open forums with faculty, professional staff, and students. These informal, interactive discussions have provided me with a unique opportunity to understand Drexel's incredible strengths, our challenges, and how we see ourselves. I want to thank those of you who participated in those discussions for sharing your insights and perspectives. The more we know about where we are the better we can determine where we want to go.

In addition, we recently launched the Drexel University Strategic Planning website. This website provides an overview of the planning process, contact information, links to documents and webcasts elaborating the game-changing forces in higher education, and frequent updates and announcements. In addition, the website invites you to Join the Discussion – with commentaries by Janet Fleetwood, Vice Provost for Strategic Development, and Bob Francis, Vice President for Facilities. The online discussion forum is designed to foster informed conversation among our students, faculty, and professional staff at all our campuses, on co-op, and abroad.

In addition to the open forums, we have now completed the first phase of the planning process. In Phase 1, five separate Strategic Planning Task Forces gathered over six weeks to focus on Quality of Life for Students, Professional Staff, and Faculty; Drexel's Scale; Academic Quality and Innovation; Community Partnerships; and Research. Over sixty faculty, professional staff, and students were engaged in these Task Forces, with a level of informed participation that has never been achieved previously at Drexel. Every Task Force produced an incisive and illuminating White Paper, each of which is available to everyone in the Drexel community through a SharePoint link on the Drexel Strategic Planning website. Comments on the White Papers are welcome on the blog. These White Papers – along with key themes from the online discussion contributions -- informed the discussion at our two-day strategic plan retreat. That two-day retreat, which I attended and which involved over fifty participants from faculty, professional staff, and administration, helped identify our strengths, clarify our aspirations, and create a shared foundation from which to build.

In our next phase of the planning process, faculty, professional staff, and students will continue collaborating on Phase 2 Task Forces to sharpen Drexel's vision, create an agenda for action, determine estimated costs, and identify modes of assessment for our measurable outcomes. Phase 2 Task Forces will complete their work in the early fall. The final plan is scheduled for completion by January 2012.

An important component of the process is the involvement of the Drexel Board of Trustees. Our Board is composed of preeminent Drexel alums and Drexel supporters. It includes entrepreneurs, business leaders, and accomplished professionals – each of whom can contribute a unique perspective and years of expertise to Drexel's Strategic Planning process. Drexel's Board members will be increasingly engaged as the plan evolves, and will be closely involved in shaping the strategic and long-range plans for our university. At the fall Board of Trustees meeting the Board will spend considerable time analyzing a working outline of the strategic plan, and helping us flesh out preliminary strategies.

I hope that you will choose to become involved in Drexel's planning process through participation in one of the open forums, through the online discusssion forum, or by volunteering to work on one of our committees. Through hard work and respectful collaboration, we will create a plan that illuminates Drexel's key values, enduring mission, and aspirations. I look forward to engaging in the planning process and to a festive launch of The Drexel University Strategic Plan: 2012-2017.


John A. Fry