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The Process of Updating the School of Science’s Strategic plan, 2006-2012


During the 2011-2012 academic year, the School of Science community engaged in a consultative and iterative process to update the School’s existing strategic plan, which was developed during the 2006-2007 academic year.  The 2011-2012 update effort was led by a School-wide Strategic Planning Committee, with representation from all three major stakeholder groups – faculty, students, and staff – and all academic departments.

The Committee’s work was anchored by the School’s and College’s missions, and informed by several resources on organizational effectiveness and strategic effectiveness, including the work of Jim Collins (e.g., Good to Great for the Social Sectors) and TSI Consulting Partners’ work with the College.  TSI defines strategic effectiveness as “an organization’s ability to set the right goals and consistently achieve them.”  TSI has found that organizations that demonstrate high levels of strategic effectiveness typically follow five general principles; these oganizations:

  • Quickly formulate a “good enough” strategic plan.
  • Move immediately to implementation – letting implementation teach them the ways that the strategy is on target and ways it needs to be improved.
  • Review progress on implementation regularly with candor and honesty.
  • Make real-time adjustments to the strategic plan.
  • Focus on results, not activities.

Development of the Strategic Map

The Strategic Planning Committee solicited initial feedback from the School of Science community through a series of facilitated focus group conversations in January and February of 2012.  Faculty members, students, and staff members who were not able to attend a focus group session had the opportunity to contribute via an electronic survey.  The focus groups and electronic survey asked five main questions:

  • What do you see as the key strengths of the School of Science?
  • What do you see as the School of Science’s weaknesses or areas of needed improvement?
  • What do you see as the critical issues, or threats (external and internal), that the School of Science will face over the next three-to-five years?
  • What do you see as the top three-to-four priorities the School of Science should establish in its strategic plan?
  • What additional comments do you have that would be helpful in informing the School of Science’s strategic planning process?

The focus group dialogues and electronic survey results yielded a robust and rich amount of feedback.  This feedback, along with a summative outcomes report on the School’s existing strategic plan, updates and reports from the School’s topic-focused task forces, and a series of School-based data, were used as the foundation for a 1.5-day retreat in March of 2012.  The retreat was designed to define the strategic direction for the School of Science and update the School’s strategic plan for the next three-to-five years.   To ensure broad representation from the School of Science, the retreat included 24 participants, including members of the Strategic Planning Committee, Department Chairs, representatives of the topic-focused task forces, a second staff member (representing the technical staff), two additional student senators, and an external facilitator.  Adjunct faculty members were also invited to participate, but none were available to attend.  The key outcome of the retreat was the development of a draft strategic map that identified the School of Science’s central challenge for the next three-to-five years and a limited number of strategic priorities and strategic objectives to address that challenge.

The Strategic Planning Committee reviewed and tweaked the draft strategic map, and then distributed it to the School of Science community for review and feedback.  The community provided feedback at an open forum during the School’s regularly scheduled April 2012 meeting.  In addition to the open forum, faculty members, students, and staff members had the opportunity to provide electronic feedback to the Committee.  The Committee reviewed and discussed the compilation of feedback received from the community, revised the strategic map to reflect this feedback, and endorsed and approved a final strategic map for the next three academic years (2012-2015).

The Strategic Map

The strategic map of School of Science is available here, and it summarizes the School’s strategy for 2012 through 2015.  The oval at the top of the map articulates the central challenge for the School of Science over the next three years:  “Building Academically Excellent Programs that will Garner National Recognition.”  The central challenge is the focal point of the strategic map/plan in realizing the School of Science’s aspirations and is supported by four, top-level strategic priorities (blue boxes).  Each strategic priority is in turn supported by three strategic objectives (white boxes).  Additionally, four cross-cutting implementation themes underpin all priorities and objectives.

Implementation of the School of Science’s strategic map will involve ongoing, operational work and resources, as well as targeted strategic investments.  Utilizing feedback from the School community, annual projects/initiatives will be identified, implemented, and the assessed.

Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee Members, 2011-2012

  • John Allison, Chemistry Faculty
  • Maggie Benoit, At-large Faculty
  • Carole Calu, Staff
  • Ed Conjura, Mathematics and Statistics Faculty
  • Don Lovett, Biology Faculty
  • Katherine McGarry, Student
  • Janet Morrison, At-large Faculty
  • Jeff Osborn, Dean and Co-chair
  • Ray Pfeiffer, Physics Faculty
  • Monisha Pulimood, Computer Science Faculty and Co-chair

Ad HocTopic-focused Task Force Members, 2011-2012

Intellectual Community and Faculty Support

  • Luke Butler
  • Danielle Guarracino
  • Don Hirsh
  • Monisha Pulimood
  • Matt Wund
  • Kristen Demester, Student

Student Success

  • Danielle Dalafave
  • Jana Gevertz
  • Tom Hagedorn
  • Helen Kull
  • Sudhir Nayak
  • Romulo Ochoa
  • Abby O’Connor
  • Anushka Patel, Student

Teaching and Learning

  • Joanne Billmers
  • Mirela Krichten
  • Jikai Li
  • Farshid Safi
  • Stephanie Sen
  • Katherine Cortés, Student


  • Heba Abourahma
  • Tracy Kress
  • Nate Magge
  • Navid Radfer, Student