Emory Report
August 3, 2009
Volume 61, Number 36


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August 3, 2009
Strategic plan update will set University’s five-year course

By Nancy Seideman

Strategic plan leaders, in collaboration with the Ways and Means Committee and other University partners, are nearing completion of a comprehensive update of the strategic plan that will lead Emory in fulfilling its vision and mission through 2015. The long-range planning is intended to ensure that the community’s aspirations will be achieved even within a reduced resource envelope given the current national economic environment.

The strategic plan update will be formally introduced during President Jim Wagner’s State of the University address on Sept. 22, and in a special Emory Report insert published in the Sept. 28 edition.

The five strategic themes and accompanying University-wide initiatives essentially remain the same, with minor revisions to better reflect Emory’s identity and aspirations. To more effectively support the plan’s overall goals, the implementation strategies have been refined to four framing principles — strategic collaborations, internationalization, societal impact and creativity: art and innovation — that will be incorporated by all themes, initiatives, schools and units in implementing their individual strategic plans.

“These framing principles go to the heart of Emory’s vision statement — to work collaboratively for positive transformation in the world, within an inquiry-driven, ethically-engaged and diverse community,” says Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “All updated recommendations reinforce the strategic priorities that will move forward this vision, including the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and students, the unquestionable foundation of our identity.”

The upheaval in the national economy has affected the plan’s implementation. Given the dramatic decline in the value of Emory’s investment portfolio and diminished short-term investment earnings, the University must apply funding to fewer activities and at a slower pace. As a result, the review and evaluation process for the first three years of the strategic plan’s implementation was accelerated. Earlier this summer $30 million in funding was cut from the strategic plan budget, resulting since last fall in a total $60 million reduction from the original allocation of $260 million.

“Most major organizations review their strategic plans every three to five years to make sure they are on course, which includes an environmental scan,” says Fred Sanfilippo, executive vice president for health affairs, and who, along with Lewis and Mike Mandl, serve on the executive committees of the strategic plan and of Ways and Means. “This year was the scheduled time in the plan’s cycle for a review and refinement, which was influenced by the national economic environment,” says Sanfilippo.

“We appreciate the community’s continued strong support of the plan, and everyone’s efforts and creativity in accomplishing so much even if with a lower resource base than originally anticipated,” says Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration. “We remain committed to our core principles and we will fulfill Emory’s vision by collectively making cost reduction choices, reallocating existing resources, and by creating new resources through entrepreneurship and philanthropy.”

For the next two months, strategic theme and initiative leaders, along with deans and division directors, are documenting their progress for the past year, and formulating aspirations and plans for the next five years within the context of revised budget models, and following a parallel planning process under way in administrative units across the University. Initiative leaders also are collaborating on a more centralized structure for administrative support.

This first in-depth overall evaluation of the strategic plan themes, initiatives and implementation strategies was conducted over a period of six months and consisted of a quantitative assessment of impact, resources, alignment and sustainability, and a review of the original plans and accomplishments for the past three years.

Evaluators included deans, directors and strategic plan leaders who were asked to rank the plan’s components based on several sets of criteria.

For information on the strategic plan, go to www.emory.edu/strategicplan.