On April 10, hundreds of people gathered in DeBaun Auditorium to participate in the last in a series of Town Hall meetings that engaged the entire Stevens community in defining the University’s future.
Since the beginning of the academic year, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee – a group representing Stevens’ diverse constituencies who were appointed by Stevens President Nariman Farvardin – have been developing the University’s 2012-2022 Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is a road map of key actions and steps that must be taken for Stevens to ascend in quality, value and impact throughout the next decade.
Based on feedback collected from faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and trustees, the first Town Hall meeting set forth the core values championed by the University, which served as a guide as the Strategic Plan was being written. The second Town Hall meeting outlined Stevens’ organizational vision for 2022, specifically the “desired state” for four key dimensions – undergraduate studies, graduate studies, research and scholarship, and culture and governance.
The third and final Town Hall meeting – led by Schaefer School of Engineering Dean Michael Bruno and School of Systems and Enterprises Dean Dinesh Verma, co-chairs of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee – served as a forum for the community to provide input on the University’s goals for 2022. The committee has outlined a draft form of a goals document that describes five top-level, cross-cutting end goals and includes a general 10-year implementation plan for achieving them, including recommendations of specific actions to take immediately and in the long-term, as well as designations of responsibility for each action.
The primary top level goal is a lofty one – excellence in everything Stevens does, from its academic programs and research endeavors to its operations, communications and collaborations.
“This focus on excellence boils down to our culture,” said Verma. “We will not tolerate mediocrity, especially in our faculty, who really drive the rhythm of the University.”
A number of major initiatives will help achieve this goal, including: revising faculty hiring, evaluation and recognition criteria; restructuring certain departments; reassessing certain administrative functions and processes; and upgrading physical and virtual facilities and infrastructure.
The second goal – student-centricity – will involve enhancing the University’s technology-centric pedagogy and evolving the undergraduate enterprise and overall student experience. Some measures to achieve it include: expanding innovation-focused curriculum and experiential programs; growing the number and quality of the undergraduate student body, especially in strategic areas; providing new and improved student life opportunities; and building a centralized University center.
“This goes beyond keeping up with the latest pedagogy and really excelling – doing more with respect to technology, experiential learning, community service, entrepreneurship, international study and more,” said Bruno.
Strengthening the central core of technology that defines Stevens is the third goal for 2022. Key actions include: increasing Ph.D. fellowships; improving staffing of research facilities; dedicating institutional funds for seed activities; creating an Innovation Design Laboratory; modernizing IT systems; redefining the Design Spine curriculum; integrating systems approaches into the overall curriculum; and establishing a technology-centric General Studies degree program.
“Most of the challenges our society faces today have, at their root, technology,” said Verma. “With Stevens’ technology-centric orientation, expanding our research enterprise can have a huge impact.”
The fourth goal is to expand Stevens’ global impact through more effective collaboration. To do so will require, among other actions: developing curriculum, partnerships and internship opportunities focused on technology policy; restructuring IP policies, incentives and partnerships; establishing relevant cross-disciplinary programs; expanding successful off-campus programs; enhancing support for faculty and students wishing to integrate IT into their work; increasing opportunities for visiting researchers and corporate collaborators; and creating opportunities for students to become STEM educators.
“Given our size and location we can achieve great success by building our reputation as ‘playing well with others,’ but in an even more strategic way,” said Bruno.
Finally, the fifth goal is for Stevens to become a well-recognized and highly-regarded brand, known as a preeminent technological university. The continued strengthening and investing in all aspects of communications are the keys to achieving this goal.
The final version of the Strategic Plan will be completed in May 2012 and presented to the Board of Trustees at the end of the academic year, but the process of improvement will remain ongoing. For the next 10 years, subcommittees of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will conduct period assessments, tracking progress against goals and enabling the university to build on successes and adapt when things aren’t working.
Read a draft statement of the goals and actions outlined by the Strategic Planning Steering Committees at www.stevens.edu/strategy.