Emory Report
May 8, 2006
Volume 58, Number 30


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May 8 , 2006
Initial funds ID’d for strategic themes and initiatives

BY ron sauder

Emory will invest nearly a half-billion dollars in the next five to seven years to fuel the themes and initiatives articulated in the University’s strategic plan, “Where Courageous Inquiry Leads.”

That’s the message given to the University’s deans, major operating unit directors and theme and initiative leaders by the three executive vice presidents who have led the strategic planning and campus master plan processes: Provost Earl Lewis, EVP for Health Affairs Michael Johns and EVP for Finance and Administration Mike Mandl.

“Our goal is to enhance an already distinguished university to the point that it gains true top-of-mind awareness, nationally and internationally, as a destination of choice for the world’s finest scholars and students,” the three wrote in a communication to theme and initiative leaders following an April 21 retreat.
They observed that Emory’s ability to make strategic investments of the magnitude currently envisioned is a competitive advantage in the landscape of American higher education enjoyed by only a limited number of other institutions.

“We face the responsibility of being wise stewards of our resources,” Lewis said. “Emory is blessed with great privileges. At the same time, we have identified extremely ambitious goals and objectives in the course of the strategic planning process. Our challenge now is to match existing resources with the extraordinary opportunities we face, in a way that is productive and creates enduring strategic advantage for the institution.”

President Jim Wagner noted that he has previously described the University’s strategic plan as the road map for a “transformational journey.” “As our plans grow ever more concrete, it is obvious that the transformations will touch many aspects of everyday life, research, teaching and health care on this campus—and that they will also reach out to benefit our community and our world,” Wagner said.

The funding plans determined to date have two components: strategic funds and building and capital funds. The strategic plan will be fueled, in large measure, by some $125 million in royalties from last summer’s landmark Emtriva sale. Use of those funds is restricted under the terms of the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows universities to commercialize their faculty inventions as a way of moving scientific research into the public domain for the benefit of society. Other strategic and capital investments targeted for the next five to seven years will be supported by refinancing of University debt instruments and new approaches to the management of University investments.

One of the centerpieces of the plans is the creation of a Faculty Distinction Fund of some $35 million. This fund is intended to provide substantial and dramatic support over the next five years for the recruitment and retention of nationally and internationally distinguished faculty. The system for allocating expenditures from this fund is currently being developed in the Office of the Provost with consultation and input from the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs.
“The heart and soul of any university is, of course, the faculty,” Johns said. “We need to focus on preserving and enhancing faculty strength as the foundation for all else that we hope to attain.”
“A distinguished faculty attracts outstanding students,” Lewis added, “and both are key to building a destination university.”

Other current plans (subject to various caveats, including the necessary Board of Trustees approval for capital projects, fundraising success, etc.) include:

• Strategic themes and initiatives: Commitments from the University’s Strategic Plan Fund (SPF) are currently projected at more than $170 million over the next five years, with another $58 million currently not allocated.

Currently projected for funding are the themes Strengthening Faculty Distinction ($67.5 million) which includes the $35 million for the Faculty Distinction Fund; Preparing Engaged Scholars ($21 million); Confronting the Human Condition and Human Experience ($14.9 million); and Exploring New Frontiers in Science and Technology ($8.7 million). Also slated for funding are academic and administrative support (including information technology and research administration expenses), the comprehensive campaign and internationalization initiatives.

More details on the specific initiatives will be forthcoming as implementation proceeds. Some areas—
for instance, Predictive Health and Religion and the Human Spirit—are comparatively well advanced from a programmatic standpoint, according to Lewis and Johns.

• Buildings and capital improvements: Commitments of more than $171 million from the University’s Capital Bank will provide major support for a new public health building (the school’s second); a new theology complex; a new psychology building and chemistry addition; a new freshman housing quad; and compact shelving for libraries, in addition to road realignment and related expenditures called for in the campus master plan.

Additional capital initiatives of $88 million include support for Emory Healthcare’s Clifton Road redevelopment plans and the University’s Clifton Community Partnership; improvements to the Yerkes Field Station in Lawrenceville; a new student services building on N. Oxford Road; investments in disability services as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; an International Center; and support for the Oxford College campus plan.

Lewis, Johns and Mandl emphasized that SPF-funded themes and initiatives must present business plans that identify support over a five-year “walk-down” period, at the end of which they will need to pay their own way through major philanthropy, grants and contracts, or other revenue sources. Any business plans that have a fundraising element will also have to be reviewed and approved by Senior Vice President for Development and University Relations Johnnie Ray.

Oversight of the plan will be in the hands of a University Strategic Plan Implementation Committee, co-chaired by Johns and Lewis. This new committee consists of the Council of Deans, the strategic plan executive team, the University-wide theme leaders, and the leaders of the internationalization and policy institute strategies. Other academic units, such as University Libraries and the Carlos Museum, will be represented as well. This committee has been charged by Wagner with providing oversight to the overall implementation of the strategic plan, and to provide guidance on such cross-cutting issues as whether any of the University-wide initiatives should result in the creation of new centers.