University announces town hall for strategic plan

As the university aims to reimagine its strategic plan, President Subra Suresh announced on Oct. 16 in a university-wide email the launch of a strategic planning process. Now, Interim Provost Nathan Urban announced to the campus community through email, that Carnegie Mellon will host a town hall meeting on Nov. 17 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Posner Center to gain input from members of campus regarding the process.

Urban described the new strategic plan, which he said will effectively replace the current 2008 Strategic Plan, as a document that is not a “document that sits on a shelf [that] nobody pays attention to or looks at or updates. We’d like this to be something that is a work in progress. As conditions in the world change, as the university changes, as we develop better ideas about where the university should be moving, we want to be able to go back and revise it in a thoughtful way.”

As part of the process, the university has identified three focus areas, also called thrusts, for campus members to explore in order to gather information to inform the new strategic plan. The thrusts include: Transformative Teaching and Learning; Transformative Research, Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship; and The Transformative CMU Experience.

Urban said that the university is in the process of trying to seek information from the campus about the strategic plan overall, beginning with looking at each of the three pillars to assess where the campus currently stands in learning, research, and the campus experience.

“Where are we now? What is it that we’re doing on our campus in each of these domains?” Urban asked, explaining that the university is looking at its strengths and areas for improvement, both internally and through external benchmarks.

Heading these thrusts will be campus leaders and college deans. Urban and Richard Scheines, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will lead the learning thrust; Farnam Jahanian, the vice president of research, and James Garrett, the dean of the College of Engineering, will lead the research thrust; and Michael Murphy, vice president for campus affairs, and Ramayya Krishna, dean of the Heinz College, will lead the campus experience thrust.

Urban said that, along with the initial town hall meeting, the university will hold subsequent smaller focused open meetings and create subcommittees to address areas within each thrust. Urban said that college deans are currently sourcing for faculty within their colleges to participate in these committees, while Gina Casalegno, dean of student affairs, is working to identify students who would be potentially interested in becoming engaged in particular parts of the process.

Urban said about the initial town hall slated for later in the month: “It will be the beginning of a conversation with members of campus about the overall strategic plan and also these individual thrust areas,” mentioning that thrust leaders will be in attendance.

Urban said that a draft of the strategic plan, “a close reflection of what a final document would look like,” will be presented to the university’s board of trustees in the spring.

In his Oct. 16 email to the campus, President Suresh also announced a branding development plan. Urban described the branding process and strategic plan process as separate, but related processes with different goals that will inform each other.

The university has hired branding and communications firm Edelman to “explore what makes Carnegie Mellon such a special place, how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by the world around us,” Suresh said in the email.