Emory Report
September 27, 2004
Volume 57, Number 6


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September 27, 2004
Plan facets starting to take shape

BY michael terrazas

After a summer of conducting and evaluating environmental assessments, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee now is bringing its work into sharper focus.

Throughout the academic year, the committee will follow a methodical path toward June 2005, by which time the strategic plan is scheduled to be finalized, approved and released to the community. It will be a comprehensive road map for Emory, capturing not only where the University needs to go to reach its vision—but how it plans to get there.

Last year and through the summer, all nine schools along with the major divisions have been working to produce individual strategic plans. Those plans are due in draft form to the steering committee by
Oct. 29, after which the schools will be asked to develop resource plans for their strategic initiatives.

Concurrent with this work are cross-cutting initiatives such as the Task Force on Internation-alization being chaired by Goizueta Business School Dean Tom Robertson. Other such initiatives are being discussed by the steering committee, and similar task forces should take shape by the end of the semester. The steering committee will be requesting input from faculty, staff, students and alumni on these cross-cutting initiatives, and an e-mail soliciting comments soon will be sent to the campus. Individuals also may provide comments via the strategic planning website (see below).

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee is co-chaired by Michael Johns, executive vice president for health affairs, and Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. This combination of an Emory veteran in Johns and a newcomer in Lewis has resulted in a dynamic approach.

“There are no downsides [to this pairing]—only upsides,” Johns said. “We gain fresh perspectives that only someone relatively new like Provost Lewis could have, and I am able to utilize eight-plus years of developing and revising strategic plans at Emory in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) that include our academic, research and clinical areas. This is a unique blend; we are complementary and enjoy each other’s ideas and energies. And we both want what’s best for Emory.”

Since 1997, the WHSC has been engaged in strategic planning processes that have served as models for the University’s efforts. For example, Johns said, both processes use a “top-down/ bottom-up” approach that seeks to involve as many stakeholders as possible. This broad input has been helpful to Lewis, who arrived on campus July 1, as it both serves the strategic plan and informs his duties as Emory’s first permanent provost in three years.

“Mike and I have a great working relationship, so that helps tremendously,” said Lewis, who through the planning is getting the ultimate crash course in all things Emory. “We seek new initiatives that push the intellectual envelope while taking full advantage of current strengths. We know, however, that we must take intelligent risks. As a result, we are asking our colleagues to reach beyond themselves and imagine new partnerships that cross-cut the University. We seek areas that allow us to be great—and, to the degree possible, distinctively so.”

In addition to completing drafts of the unit plans, October also will be when goal-setting for the entire University begins in earnest. In the first three months of 2005, task force and unit plans will be finalized. Finally, in March and April 2005, the focus will turn to identifying the resources necessary as Emory looks toward completing the plan in May and then to a comprehensive fund-raising campaign.

“We want to use this plan to position Emory for its rise to the next level of excellence and recognition,” Johns said. “We will use the University vision statement to guide us, and we are looking to identify new opportunities that will propel us forward in ways that differentiate us from other universities, particularly those ‘big ideas’ that cut across Emory College and our professional schools. It is the cohesiveness among the college and schools that result in our whole greatly exceeding the sum of our parts.”

“A willingness to catapult over the present is a grand and worthy ambition—that is how new discoveries are made and how scholars make an impact in the world,” Lewis said.

For more information about strategic planning, visit www.admin.emory.edu/StrategicPlan/. The site contains background on the planning process, reports from the 13 “Opportunities Committees” conducted earlier this year, and a forum for public comments.