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Trustees Approve Revised Draft Of University Strategic Plan

Break is over for Penn State’s Board of Trustees. The committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning approved a draft of the university’s strategic plan during a conference call on Monday.

The proposed plan’s purpose is to guide Penn State’s institutional direction from 2016 through 2020.

“This plans speaks to the mission, vision and values that have made Penn State a leading global institution,” Provost Nicholas Jones said. “We believe this strategic plan will serve as a roadmap to our success over the next few years.”

The proposal centers on five thematic priorities: transforming education; enhancing health; stewarding the planet’s resources; advancing the arts and humanities; and driving digital innovation. It will be presented to the full Board at its February meeting in Hershey.

The proposed plan has been in the works for the last two and a half years with a team of 32 people dedicated to the project. The group, called the University Strategic Planning Council, involves 48 academic and administrative units from across Penn State. As it always goes with things like this, the Council sought input from university leadership and the Penn State community, including students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The Council presented the first draft in October, and sought feedback from the community. At the time of the initial draft, it seemed dubious that so much effort and emphasis was put into a plan that really only outlines things that every university in the country should be and is currently doing.

After comparing the draft from October and the one approved by the committee on Monday there were a few changes. “All feedback was carefully considered as the plan evolved,” the revised draft reads.

It went on to further explain why the strategic plan is noticeably nonspecific, which I was weary about when I read the first draft. “…this plan for Penn State purposely does not identify specific initiatives to undertake or metrics to measure their success. These, along with detailed objectives and tactics, will emerge and evolve university-wide during the implementation of this strategic plan. Implementation ultimately will require understanding how the specific activities across departments, colleges, and other units align with the overarching strategies articulated herein.”

There was also another paragraph added to the end of the approved draft. “As an extraordinary, 21st-century, global institution, Penn State has an impressive depth, breadth, and variety of collaborative talent across disciplines, along with tremendous resolve and energy. With all key stakeholders working together, the elements are in place for Penn State to extend its reach and impact through teaching and learning, research, and service.”

Additionally there were some small language changes like changing Managing Resources to Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources, Elevating the Impact of the Arts and Humanities to Advancing the Arts and Humanities, and Leveraging Digital Innovation to Driving Innovation. So essentially, they took a thesaurus to all 18-pages before presenting the revised draft.

That being said, the approved draft seems to lay a solid framework for the university’s immediate and distant future.

“This gives us a blueprint on how to move forward,” Penn State President Eric Barron said at the meeting on Monday. “This is a good vision for the university.”

You can read the full board-approved draft below:

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