Strategic Plan AFrame.html

Achieving Distinction 2000:

A Strategic Plan For The University Of Iowa

Appendix A


[Note: This framework, published March 1, 1989, completed the first phase of the planning process for Achieving Distinction, and was included as part of the original plan. The version reported here has been edited to reduce redundancy and revised to report current and anticipated planning activities during the 1994-1996 period.]


Strategic planning is one way for universities to take advantage of their opportunities and deal with their challenges. The idea of strategic planning comes from the corporate world and any application to an academic institution requires adjustment and modification. In an institution of higher education, strategic planning is a process through which a university community considers broad issues of institutional direction, develops explicit goals and priorities, and subjects these to open evaluation and debate. The ultimate purpose is to build a consensual vision of the institution and a plan to implement and achieve that vision. Through ongoing strategic planning, the academic institution continually renews its vision and reformulates strategies for realizing that vision.
This document was the starting point for a University-wide strategic planning process that was completed in 1989. It includes material on the organization of the planning effort (e.g., the planning structure and process) and some guidelines for developing strategies. Deleted from this version are statements on the University mission and environmental assumptions that can be found elsewhere in the strategic plan, and some historical information that is no longer relevant. The framework is quite general, thereby allowing for detail and content to be developed by colleges, administrative units, departments, and so forth. The framework is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the special concerns and problems of particular planning units but also explicit enough to serve as a useful guide.
While planning has a long history at The University of Iowa, it has tended to produce a compilation of collegiate plans rather than an integrated vision for the institution as a whole, and it has not been systematically connected to budgetary decisions. The strategic planning process utilized over the past seven years has produced a University-wide plan that stimulates ties among the plans of disparate units on campus and yields a short list of priorities for new initiatives. Funding will be directed toward those priorities, and those priorities will provide criteria for evaluating proposals for new funding or for the maintenance of current funding.

The First University Strategic Planning Committee

Charge: On January 3, 1989, President Hunter R. Rawlings III charged the first Strategic Planning Committee with the following tasks: (1) Develop a set of University goals and strategies, and a framework for planning by units across campus; (2) Explicate a set of informed assumptions about the external and internal environment; (3) Create a University-level plan that draws in part on the plans submitted to the committee by units within the University; (4) Address specific issues of importance raised by the University community; (5) Develop indicators or measures for assessing progress toward the goals and objectives of the plan; and (6) Propose a structure and procedure for ongoing planning following the completion of this particular planning cycle.
Role: The role of the committee was to facilitate and assist the planning efforts of units across campus, evaluate and suggest changes in the plans developed by individual units, and decide what was to be in the integrated University plan submitted to President Rawlings in December 1989. The primary role of the committee was to develop a University-level plan, rather than implement it, and to propose an ongoing process of strategic planning.
Product: The committee produced an action-oriented plan for the period 1990 to 1995. Unit plans of colleges, administrative units, and a few special committees constituted satellite documents for the University-wide plan.

The Strategic Planning Implementation Committee

During 1990-91, the Strategic Planning Implementation Committee recommended the formation of a committee of senior administrators, with faculty and staff representation, to monitor progress toward our institutional aspirations and goals and to ensure linkage between the strategic plan's recommendations and budgetary decisions. The Strategic Planning Steering Group, chaired by the University President, now has implementation responsibility. Its role is described in Chapter 7: Implementation.

The Second University Strategic Planning Committee

On April 8, 1994, President Hunter R. Rawlings III charged the second University Strategic Planning Committee with the following tasks: (1) ensure that the University Strategic Plan is revised and updated on a periodic basis; (2) revise the plan's "environmental scan" to take into account emerging internal and external conditions and forces; (3) meet periodically with the Steering Group, Deans, and Directors of other first-level planning units to learn what is being accomplished in implementing their plans; and (4) communicate frequently with the University community and solicit its advice in this process. Nineteen committee members were appointed, eleven faculty, five staff, two administrators, and one student, for terms of two or three years. The committee's activities are to extend beyond the preparation of the revised University Strategic Plan to ensure a continuous strategic planning process. The revised environmental review, "The University and Its Environment," was completed in December, 1994, and is included here as Appendix B. The revised Strategic Plan, Achieving Distinction 2000, was completed in March, 1995. Anticipated future activities include commenting on first-level plans and their consistency with the University Strategic Plan, considering changes in the process of future planning, reporting on changes in environmental conditions or other factors that may affect strategic planning, and consulting with the Steering Group on implementation.

What Is Strategic Planning?

I. Definition:
University strategic planning is a collective, institution-wide process for developing creative initiatives that channel resources to fulfill the University's mission and take maximum advantage of trends in the external and internal environment.

II. Basic Elements:
Environment--the external context (e.g., social, political, economic, demographic) and internal conditions (e.g., culture, traditions, administrative structure) of the institution.
Goals--ends, future states, or conditions to be produced. Goals are less general than our mission as expressed in our mission statement (containing the broadest ends) but more general than specific objectives (the most concrete ends). Goals are developed in the context of the mission and are the basis for specific objectives. Specific objectives serve as a link between goals and action.
Strategies--actions, options, means for achieving goals and objectives. A strategy can be a single action or a set of complementary actions.
Priorities--can be established between goals and/or between strategy options. Or, they can be embedded in the choice of a particular set of equally weighted goals.
Assessment--criteria or indicators for evaluating progress toward the goals along the way.

III. Compared to Other Forms of Planning, Strategic Planning:
1. Contains greater appreciation for the unpredictability of the environment. It assumes an ever-changing, complex external environment and takes a proactive stance toward that environment.
2. Prepares for a future that is uncertain and might take a variety of forms. It facilitates adaptability to a range of internal and external conditions (i.e., directs more attention to contingencies).
3. Focuses on broad policy issues and takes a University-wide perspective. It raises fundamental questions about direction.
4. Combines and integrates generality (i.e., mission, goals) with specificity (i.e., specific objectives, strategies).
5. Provides a flexible guide for budgetary and program decisions, without making implementation decisions in advance or reducing the judgmental nature of decisions about quality.
6. Requires regular re-evaluation and adjustment to fit new challenges, opportunities, or constraints (i.e., once developed, it is not etched in stone).

The Planning Structure

Given that strategic planning is designed to provide a foundation for budgetary and program decisions, the planning structure is organized around the administrative units that make such decisions. Exceptions have been made in some highly important areas that cut across administrative lines, where we would like to receive both collegiate and noncollegiate perspectives. Planning units with overlapping jurisdictions should collaborate as much as feasible with each other but, in the end, each planning unit should develop its own independent unit plan.

Types of Units

1. A planning unit is any unit that develops its own plan (a "unit plan"). The unit plan constitutes the input of that particular unit to the University-level strategic plan.
A first-level planning unit is one with whom the University Strategic Planning Committee will deal directly. Such units provide their plans to the committee, and the committee will read them thoroughly and respond with comments and suggestions.
A second-level planning unit is a subunit that submits its plan to a first-level planning unit. The University Strategic Planning Committee will not read or receive these unit plans unless there is some special problem or circumstance.
2. A liaison unit is one with which the University Strategic Planning Committee will maintain a direct liaison and from which they will receive ideas for the University-level plan.

First-Level Planning Units
Office of The President
Office of The Provost
Student Services (Retention Focused)
Enrollment Services (Recruitment Focused)
Vice President for Research
Vice President for Finance and University Services
Vice President for Health Sciences
Vice President for University Relations
College of Business Administration
College of Dentistry
College of Education
College of Engineering
Graduate College
College of Law
College of Liberal Arts
College of Medicine
College of Nursing
College of Pharmacy
Division of Continuing Education
University Hospitals and Clinics
University Libraries
Office of Information Technology
Committee on Cultural Affairs
Committee on Diversity
Committee on Interdisciplinary Programs
Committee on International Education

Second-Level Planning Units
These are subunits within the first-level planning units. While one can argue that any unit with a "significant" budget should have some sort of plan, the identification of subunits is left to the first-level planning units. The University Strategic Planning Committee will provide suggestions and advice where appropriate and find a place for any subunits that are left out.
The Planning Process The planning effort is an iterative, back-and-forth process that combines top-down and bottom-up features. For strategic planning to be successful, it is critical that frequent if not continuous dialogue and exchange occur across all levels of the University. This dialogue must involve faculty, students, staff and, insofar as possible, alumni and members of the public. Thus, the University Strategic Planning Committee developed and shaped a University-wide plan in the context of substantial dialogue with first-level planning units and liaison units (e.g., Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Student Senate, and Collegiate Associations Council) and frequent contact with members of the University community through public hearings and written statements. The plans of first-level planning units will become satellite documents for the University-wide plan.
There are several ways for members of the University community to contribute to the planning process. First, participate in the planning efforts of your own first- and second-level units. It is in these units that the general University goals will be given specific meaning and content. Second, watch for communications that regularly will appear in issues of fyi and also for a periodic strategic planning supplement in fyi. Third, attend public hearings. Fourth, forward ideas to James V. Hinrichs, Chair, Strategic Planning Committee, Department of Psychology, E229 Seashore Hall.

Fundamental Commitments

The following articulate fundamental commitments from the first planning committee. These are timeless and reflect the values of higher education in general and this institution in particular.
1. Provide citizens of Iowa with educational programs of the highest quality.
2. Freely pursue knowledge, understanding, and intellectual appreciation for the advancement and enrichment of humanity.
3. Recognize and support the unique and special role of scholarship and creativity and their integral relationship to teaching at a major research university.
4. Offer levels of access and affordability appropriate to a public university.
5. Preserve and enhance the spirit of community and collegiality at the University.
6. Make important social, cultural, health, and economic contributions to the state and nation.
7. Strive continually for excellence in all endeavors of the University.
Long-Term Aspiration A level of quality comparable to that found among the top ten public institutions, with selected areas in which The University of Iowa is the leading institution nationwide.

General University Goals

These goals constitute a set of emphases for the next five years.
1. Comprehensive strength in undergraduate educational programs.
2. Premier graduate and professional programs in a significant number of areas.
3. A faculty of national and international distinction.
4. Premier research and scholarship
5. A culturally diverse and inclusive academic community.
6. Strong ties between the University and external constituencies.
7. A quality academic and working environment.

Strategy Guidelines

These guidelines are criteria for the development and evaluation of strategies by planning units. They can be combined in different ways by different planning units, that is, given somewhat different weights, consistent with the opportunities and challenges facing the particular planning unit.
1. Foster responsiveness to the educational needs, creativity, and dignity of students. Make sensitivity to the needs of students a priority in the development of strategies.
2. Build on strength and potential strength. Give priority to those activities and programs in which there is the greatest potential for improvement and excellence.
3. Develop focus in our teaching and research programs. Create unique areas of excellence that ideally address the fundamental (i.e., central) and "cutting-edge" issues within a field of study.
4. Maintain strength in the core areas central to a comprehensive university. Strategies of "focus" and "building on strength" must take account of the importance of creating and maintaining strength in academic programs, university libraries, and information technologies essential for any comprehensive university.
5. Identify and take advantage of emerging, unexpected opportunities to crystallize strength in academic programs. Take risks that are necessary to produce dramatic improvements in quality.
6. Allocate resources to produce the greatest improvement in quality per unit of investment (human and material). Design strategies that do not require resources in addition to ones that require them. Where resources are required, consider what you might generate yourself internally or externally, as well as what new resources might be required from the University budget. Overall, give priority to endeavors and programs in which small investments will yield large increments in quality.

The above criteria should provide a starting point for rigorous discussions by planning units on which programs, departments, or activities should be given high priority and which should be given low priority in the next five years. Once such priorities are established, it is important that planning units confront the difficult question of which subunits or activities could be phased out, downsized, or eliminated in the event that it is necessary to generate internal resources for those with higher priority. Return to Environmental Assessment Table of Contents

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Last updated on July 17, 1995 by Campus Communications