More than four months ago, President Nariman Farvardin appointed a 20-member steering committee representing Stevens’ diverse constituencies to lead the development of the University’s 2012-2022 Strategic Plan. At the second in a series of Strategic Planning Town Hall meetings on Monday, the committee provided a progress report to the Stevens community, describing its vision for the University ten years from now.
The ideas presented at the Town Hall are a work-in-progress. The committee continues to seek feedback from the community to incorporate into the final version of the Strategic Plan, which will be completed in May 2012.
Following the first Town Hall, which set forth seven core values championed by the University, Monday’s Town Hall was dedicated to outlining Stevens’ organizational vision. Based on feedback from hundreds of faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and trustees, the committee boiled down Stevens’ vision statement into one simple but comprehensive sentence:
We inspire, nurture and educate technology leaders of tomorrow while addressing the most challenging problems of our time.
Dinesh Verma – dean of SSE and co-chair of the steering committee with Michael Bruno, dean of SES – said that to make this vision actionable, “We first need to understand Stevens’ strengths and weaknesses of today and of the past.”
To that end, the committee outlined a number of strategic enablers which will help Stevens achieve its vision, including: its location at the epicenter of the corporate world; its technology-centric focus; its small size and resulting agility and collaborative atmosphere; its numerous advances in the last decade in terms of the quality of faculty, students, research and research centers; and its influential and affluent alumni.
Verma said that by leveraging these strategic enablers, Stevens has a unique opportunity – and even a duty – to expand its role in the world over the next decade. Reflecting that belief, the committee designated, “Our Time is Now,” as the official title of the Strategic Plan.
Next, the committee identified some strategic challenges which will have to be overcome to achieve its vision. On the list was: a lack of non-engineering and non-science undergraduate offerings; inconsistent and unfocused engagement with alumni; a reputation that does not match the impressive accomplishments of the community; a lack of diversity within the student body; sub-par research and technology infrastructure; a lack of organizational transparency; and outdated teaching models and methods.
With Stevens’ strengths and weaknesses defined, faculty members who have taken on leadership roles over the four primary dimensions of the Strategic Plan – undergraduate studies, graduate studies, research and scholarship, and culture and governance – reported on the “desired state” for their individual areas by 2022. The final version of the Strategic Plan will include a 10-year implementation plan for achieving these end goals, including recommendations of specific actions to take immediately and in the long-term, as well as designations of responsibility for each action.
For the undergraduate studies dimension, George Calhoun, executive-in-residence, Technology Management, said the committee envisions a more diverse and larger (perhaps double) student body in 2022. Students will be enrolled in an expanded portfolio of high quality, top-rated programs aligned with Stevens’ core technology-centric fiber, with most of the population growth coming from the non-tech and non-science disciplines. Culturally, academic, research and extracurricular activities will be innovative and cutting-edge, enhancing the student learning experience. Academic and administrative services will be highly-rated by students, and internal and external stakeholders will clearly recognize the value of a Stevens undergraduate education.
In 2022, the committee aspires for graduate studies at Stevens to more effectively meet the distinct needs of Masters, Doctoral and Professional students, Brian Sauser, assistant professor in SSE, reported. The student body will be high-quality and balanced between domestic and international, full-time and part-time, and individual and corporate-sponsored. Graduate studies at Stevens will be differentiated by their unique, targeted experiential learning, and the blend of program offerings will reflect Stevens strengths and legacy. There will also be more of a sense of community among graduate students and faculty.
Regarding the research dimension, Michael Zur Muehlen, associate professor of Technology Management, described a research environment in 2022 in which opportunities to engage in technology-centric research and scholarship will permeate the Stevens campus. Researchers will be empowered by more effective processes, stronger support, more collaborative opportunities and state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure. Cross-disciplinary research will be the norm, and there will be several centers and clusters established in focused research areas. Perhaps most importantly, Stevens’ research experience will consistently result in societal impact. The committee plans to create a “research heat map” which identifies pressing global problems where the research need is greatest – or will be in 10 years – and where Stevens should concentrate or expand its research efforts.
Tony Barrese, associate dean & chief of staff in SSE, shared the desired state for the culture and governance dimension. In 2022, the committee wants Stevens will be characterized by a sense of community and belonging, where the community demands excellence of each other and is collectively motivated to achieve aspirational goals. There will be an institutional policy of shared governance and the organizational structure will be efficient and flexible, with clear lines of responsibility that facilitate transparency and accountability.
Finally, Beth McGrath, executive director of CIESE, reported on the desired states for certain external university functions which span all four primary dimensions. By 2022, strategic communications will increase the awareness and improve the reputation of Stevens and its community members; outreach will help Stevens positively impact society and solve problems of social relevance; there will be participation in new prestigious, large-scale research and education partnerships; and student life will support the development of the whole student who positively impacts society and transforms Stevens’ into an incubator of new knowledge.
Stay abreast of the latest developments and activities related to the Strategic Plan at www.stevens.edu/strategy.