Having received some very good questions about the strategic planning process this past week, I thought I would respond here, so that we are all working with the same information.
I do want every academic and research and outreach unit to address the questions I laid out in my charge letter last March. But how we communicate the results of this work and in what format and at what length will depend on the audience and the issue. For example, I think every unit should develop a planning document of whatever length seems appropriate for our internal use in deciding about future hires, compact requests, new investments, etc. It's fine if those documents go on for many pages if need be.
Concision will become much more important in what we present to external audiences. I will want to present the strengths of our programs to the new president and provost when they take office July 1, 2011 and the more concise the information we give them, the better. We will also need to edit our plans in order to make compelling cases on what makes us distinctive for prospective students, potential funders and donors, and alumni, either on the web and in other communications, or as case statements in proposals and letters.
For now, focus on your strategic thinking, with the goal of completing a draft of whatever length you feel comfortable doing, by the end of the calendar year. If you want to try to boil it down to an "elevator speech," that's fine; otherwise, the college's communications staff can help you craft different versions of your plans for these diverse audiences in the spring.
As part of your strategic planning, also think about possible requests we might make for Central investments at our annual compact meeting this spring. You might want to describe potential compact requests as part of your strategic planning document, and we can work on prioritizing them in January. Some ideas for possible compact funding have already come forward: Securing administrative support for the graduate school transition, requesting a second Product Design faculty line, hiring a Digifab Lab manager, and developing a program of spring break internships for our students.
I welcome your creative ideas and look forward to developing convincing arguments in favor of them through discussion with our various governance and consultative groups. While I don't know how much compact money will be available this year, let's do what we can to compete for as much as we can!