Emory Report
January 23, 2006
Volume 58, Number 16


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January 23, 2006
Strategic plan implementation teams put plan in motion

BY michael terrazas

If 2005 was a year in which Emory focused its attention on planning for the future, 2006 will be the year it starts to put those plans into action.

Staggered throughout spring semester are a series of deadlines by which the various groups and committees charged with implementation will bring the University’s aspirations into crisp relief. Those groups span both the school and unit plans, which form the foundation of Emory’s wider efforts, and the signature themes and related cross-cutting initiatives that build upon efforts in corners of the University.

Implementation across Emory’s schools and units has followed a more defined course since those entities already had mechanisms in place for year-to-year planning and budget requests. Earlier this month, all of Emory’s schools and units delivered their budget presentations for fiscal year 2007 to the Ways & Means Committee, and each was asked to make a supplemental request for resources from the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) set up to jump-start related activities.

Regarding the latter, Ways & Means asked that such requests cover five years of program implementation, with a description of how the proposed activities would locate and secure additional funding sources that, by the end of those five years, will enable them to become self-sustaining.

In Emory College, for example, Senior Associate Dean Kim Loudermilk said the school is guiding its own strategic plan implementation through its existing faculty governance committee, a group of 12 faculty that meets monthly. Also weighing in are department chairs, who met last week at a retreat to prioritize a list of a dozen or so interdisciplinary themes within the college identified during its planning process.

Loudermilk also sits on a committee that is looking at ways to integrate strategic plan implementation activities more seamlessly into schools’ normal budget and reporting processes. That group, headed by the Woodruff Health Science Center’s Shari Capers, associate vice president for strategic planning, has as its charge to “position the strategic plan at each level as the driver of financial planning and reporting activities,” and to identify metrics by which progress can be measured for reaching strategic goals.

Finally, in terms of school and unit plans, it’s significant that none of the various aspects of strategic plan implementation exists in a vacuum; the faculty who comprise the steering committees for the various crosscutting initiatives all have academic homes in one or more University schools, so in this respect all aspects of planning will necessarily support and inform each other.

“For example, Dean Bobby Paul is working with [Senior Vice President] John Ford and [Oxford Dean] Stephen Bowen on the ‘Preparing Engaged Scholars’ theme,” Loudermilk said. “[Professor] Lanny Liebeskind is co-leading the ‘New Frontiers in Science and Technology’ theme with [Executive Vice President] Michael Johns, and [Professor] Bruce Knauft has been very involved with the internationalization task force. And we’ve received letters and requests for information from a couple more of the theme leaders.”

Unlike that of the school and unit plans, implementation of the strategic plan’s signature themes—meant to identify and develop activity that cuts across Emory’s schools—required the creation of new structures and processes to oversee the work. Listed in the table accompanying this article are the co-leaders for theme implementation, along with the chairs of steering committees that have been formed to oversee development of the themes’ various cross-cutting initiatives.

Though the precise nature and relationships among the various groups are left up to the theme leaders, they all share certain basic purposes:
to first define the topic/area of responsibility with which they are charged (for example, the steering committee for the “Implementing Pathways to Global Health” initiative must first define what is meant by that phrase and what activities it will encompass);
to mine the activities within the schools and units—both those already in existence and those proposed in school and unit plans—for linkages and connections;
to identify how to leverage all of those activities and create something potentially bigger and more interdisciplinary than what individual schools and/or units might have accomplished on their own; and
to turn all of the data above into specific SIF budget requests.

First-year budget priorities are due in mid-February, and by the end of April each theme is expected to produce a five-year implementation and financing plan similar to the five-year strategic plans the schools and units developed.

Liebeskind acknowledged that at the moment, barely two months into their work, some of the signature-theme committees’ activity is somewhat amorphous, but that is changing rapidly; within the next two weeks, those groups will drill down into school and unit plans and start to construct the intellectual web that connects Emory in all of the theme areas.

“Right now there’s a little bit of rhetoric,” Liebeskind said. “We don’t yet have line-item budget requests. But we will soon, and we will start saying, ‘Here are the resources we need,’ the faculty lines, the graduate student lines, etc., and we’ll look at the school and unit plans and say, ‘They’re asking for the same thing; we should tie into their request.’ Ultimately there are a finite number of dollars out there, and where there is overlap, we need to identify that overlap and align our requests.”

Some initiatives are under way. For example, Executive Vice President Mike Mandl, who is serving as co-theme leader along with University Secretary Rosemary Magee for “Creating Community—Engaging Society,” has formed several task forces to advance that theme’s initiatives. A committee on institutional sustainability, led by Mandl and Professor Peggy Barlett, has submitted a draft report, and another program already is up and running: Leadership Emory, a leadership-development program being piloted this spring in Mandl’s finance and administration division. The program is due to graduate its first class in June, and next year it will be opened to other schools and divisions.

“Given the success of the Woodruff Leadership Academy and in order to adequately address leadership development across all of Emory, we decided to pursue multiple approaches to the leadership-development initiative,” Mandl said. “These academies are two of our tools.”

Provost Earl Lewis agreed that not all the initiatives are at equal stages of development, but said the varying levels of intellectual and programmatic gestation should not be construed as reflective of institutional priorities. Work related to the “Predictive Health” initiative, for instance, began long before there was a University-wide strategic plan in which to incorporate it; indeed, in December Emory and Georgia Tech co-hosted a national symposium on predictive health. It’s natural that this initiative would have a head start on, for example, the “Race and Human Difference” initiative, whose steering committee was constituted at about the same time that predictive health symposium was taking place (most initiatives carried over their leadership from the planning process, but due to the competing responsibilities of previous chairs Leslie Harris and Ralph DiClemente, Professors Frances Smith Foster and George Armelagos were recruited to take over the race initiative).

“Right now there are a few groups that have been at work longer than others, and we expect to see larger plans from them sooner,” Lewis said. “It’s not unexpected at all.”

“We are making wonderful progress in fleshing out our predictive health initiative under the leadership and guidance of many colleagues from Emory as well as Georgia Tech,” said Michael Johns, executive vice president for health affairs and co-chair (with Lewis) of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. “The national symposium provided convincing evidence that predictive health really is a transformative vision and constitutes an area in which Emory can provide courageous leadership for the national academic and healthcare communities.”

For more information on strategic planning, visit www.admin.emory.edu/Strategic_Plan/.