Emory University Strategic Plan Update
What is happening and why we should care
Earl Lewis, Provost and Executive Vice President, Academic Affairs;
Fred Sanfilippo, Executive Vice President, Health Affairs;
and Makeba Morgan-Hill, director of university strategic planning


Vol. 11 No. 4
February/March 2009

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Lessons from Liberia
Reconsidering international development, scholarship, and engagement

“The theoretical frameworks and principles of practice that have guided development activities for the past fifty years have not yielded the intended outcomes.”

To go into a post-conflict state that is wrestling with all of this in real time with real-world consequences, was a compelling opportunity. . . . I didn’t have to change who I was to be relevant.”

Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition
The concept of vulnerability

Dhondup’s Wisdom
Teaching and learning from Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns

Emory University Strategic Plan Update
What is happening and why we should care


Since its adoption in 2005, Emory’s strategic plan, Where Courageous Inquiry Leads, has begun to change the intellectual landscape of the university. Two new doctoral tracks—one in Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding and a second in Religion and Health—are a result of the Religion and the Human Spirit initiative. A third new interdisciplinary doctoral program results from a grant received by the Predictive Health and Society initiative. And eleven new courses in the curriculum address social inequities—a direct result of the work of the Race and Difference initiative. These developments are just a few examples of the way the strategic plan has begun to affect the lives of faculty, students, and staff.

In the context of a significant financial realignment, it is important to take stock of these and other accomplishments at Emory in the last few years. Even though the ongoing economic downturn will force some adjustments, we have made significant strides.

Emory’s strategic plan lays out a blueprint from 2005 to 2015 for achieving Emory’s vision to become a destination university internationally recognized as an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged, and diverse community, whose members work collaborativelyfor positive transformation in
the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care, and social action. The plan is based upon the strategies and activities of the individual schools and units, organized by a framework that consists of five crosscutting university-wide themes and five implementation strategies.

The strategic plan emphasizes both priorities that span the university and those particular to schools and units. They include recruiting endowed chairs, redesigning the curricula of key programs, strengthening collaboration across schools and initiatives, and developing academic programs. Even in the midst of a new fiscal reality, Emory will continue to develop new organizational solutions for initiative support and structure, improve measures and indicators of strategic plan success, and adjust goals and strategies on an ongoing basis to meet current needs.

The overall goals of the strategic plan have not changed, however. The emphasis continues to be on people—faculty, students, and staff. For example, the Faculty Distinction Fund, part of the “Strengthening Faculty Distinction” theme, assisted with a net faculty growth of 317 (12 percent) since 2005 and the election of ten Emory faculty to national academies. The new Academic Leadership Program is designed to strengthen academic leadership across the university and establish a leadership pipeline for succession planning, and the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence was created to support development in research, teaching, and scholarly writing and to foster Emory’s intellectual community. Through the new Emory Advantage Program, the university has provided $3.5 million to attract and retain 447 new and returning Emory undergraduates. And Emory’s signature undergraduate experience, Preparing Engaged Scholars, has been established to prepare students for lifelong ethical leadership and active engagement in civic life.

It is important to know that the strategic plan does not focus exclusively on the six initiative areas. Its reach also extends to activities within the schools and units of the university. For example, Emory libraries have benefited from the plan—such as the recent acquisition of the archives of Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Walker.

Much progress has been made, and more will come. We can look forward to a model for a new Work-Life Resource Center to develop programs to improve the work-life balance for all members of the Emory community. The Creativity and the Arts initiative will continue to enhance our environment as well. Currently, the School of Medicine’s new education building is serving as gallery space for “Art by the Emory Visual Arts Faculty,” the first in a series of compelling art installations developed to reach future doctors and the professionals who train them. Then there are the cranes on campus. Construction has allowed for new residence halls, new academic buildings such as the Candler Theology and Center for Ethics building, the new psychology building, and the expansion of the Rollins School of Public Health. All initiated construction will be completed, but in the current economic climate, no new projects will begin until further assessment.

Challenges and

As a community, Emory has embarked on a long road to achieve its vision of becoming a destination university of international reputation. Now more than ever, implementing Emory’s strategic plan requires flexibility, openness to opportunity, and commitment to fiscal responsibility.
The world of higher education is facing nearly unprecedented challenges. These include the impact of the world economy; state and federal budget fluctuations; the effect of the declining housing market on faculty recruitment; rising tuition costs and competing financial aid packages for middle class families; decreasing applications to private universities; expected increases in the number of faculty who retire; increasing government oversight and assessment of learning and research outcomes; rising healthcare costs and related legislation; and the growing emphasis on environmental stewardship, local community involvement, and campus security.

The Strategic Implementation Advisory Committee, with representation from across the university, continues to develop priorities, review achievements, and guide strategic implementation activities. Over the past six months, a process to conduct a mid-point review and update of the strategic plan was established. The plan’s mid-point, 2010, is an ideal time to assess progress toward achieving university-wide strategic goals, changes in the internal and external environment, and the impact of the strategic plan on Emory’s strategic position. The Strategic Plan Executive Committee, which consists of the executive vice presidents for academic affairs, health affairs, and finance and administration, will assess the progress, trajectory, and long-term sustainability of each strategic theme, initiative, and implementation strategy and make adjustments as needed. The school and unit plans, which are the foundation of the university-wide plan, expire in 2010 and must be updated for the next five years (2010–2015).
Over this academic year, all components of the strategic plan will be evaluated. This is an elaborate process that seeks feedback from all. Consequently, the next phase of the plan may look different. We are in the middle of this process presently, and an update is expected to be available in fall 2009.

For more information on the strategic plan, please see www.emory.edu/strategicplan. Monthly updates are provided on the Academic Exchange website at www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/strategicplan.html.