Strategic Plan Chapter7.html

Achieving Distinction 2000:

A Strategic Plan For The University Of Iowa

Chapter 7: Implementation

This chapter specifies the process of implementing strategic planning, the roles of planning committees and planning units, use of implementation criteria, and the relationship of planning to budgeting and communication.


The first University strategic plan, Achieving Distinction, was initiated in January, 1990. Later that spring, the Strategic Planning and Implementation Process Committee was formed to recommend processes and structures necessary to continue planning at all levels of the University. The committee recommended that the University Strategic Planning Committee, together with first-level planning units, have primary responsibility for ongoing planning. It also recommended the formation of a new committee, the Strategic Planning Steering Group, composed of senior central administrators and representatives of the faculty and staff. The Steering Group was to assume overall administrative responsibility for implementation of the plan.

Implementation Criteria

In August, 1991, the Steering Group produced a report describing the criteria upon which it would base decisions about allocating resource to implement the strategies of Achieving Distinction. The report was entitled "Criteria for Institutional Enhancements and Reductions" and is included here as Appendix C. Although the report was written as a guideline for immediate application, subject to later revisions, it has not been superseded and remains operative. Two primary and four secondary criteria were proposed by the Steering Group. Primary criteria are the quality of a program and its centrality to the University role and mission. (A "program" refers to the organized activities of academic and nonacademic departments, offices, or units.) The secondary criteria are student demand, potential for excellence, external impact, and cost. Full descriptions of each of the criteria can be found in Appendix C. Although the criteria have inspired much discussion, and some disagreement, alternative criteria have not won general acceptance.
The 1995 University Strategic Planning Committee endorses the use of the six criteria and recommends their vigorous application as the University continues to implement strategic planning. As articulated in both Achieving Distinction and Achieving Distinction 2000, the present document, successful planning at The University of Iowa requires an overall institutional strategy of focus, with financial support for improved quality and new initiatives primarily derived from reallocation of existing funds. The University does not have the size or the resources to pursue all desirable goals; it must be selective in its choices of which programs to enhance and which to reduce. The strategy of focus must be pursued by first- and second-level planning units as well as by central University administrators. Planners at the level of individual programs are often in the best position to determine the best allocation of resources and are urged to apply the six criteria in their decision-making.

Roles of Planning Committees

The fundamental definitions, procedures, and structures of strategic planning originally proposed and used in Achieving Distinction appear to be successful, and we recommend their continuation with only modest revision. Just as the University's strategic plan undergoes continuous change, we can also expect the process of planning to be revised in the future. For the present, however, continuity in the planning process is desirable.
The major change in the planning process since 1990 is the formation of the Steering Group and the delineation of its relationship with the Strategic Planning Committee. We recommend that the Strategic Planning Committee and the Strategic Planning Steering Group meet jointly at least twice annually, with a fall meeting led by the Steering Group focused on implementation and a spring meeting led by the Strategic Planning Committee focused on revisions in the plan and reviews of first-level plans. The roles of each of the major contributors to University strategic planning are described below.
University Strategic Planning Committee The primary responsibility of the Strategic Planning Committee is to perform ongoing planning at the University level. Its major task is to revise planning documents, including reviews of environmental assumptions, on a five-year cycle. Along with the Steering Group, it shares responsibility for monitoring progress toward plan aspirations and goals. The Strategic Planning Committee also fosters planning by first- and second-level planning units, receives first-level plans, and comments on their relationships to the University plan. The committee maintains close contact with representative bodies for student, staff, and faculty constituencies. Annually, it reports on recommended changes in the University's overall Strategic Plan.
Strategic Planning Steering Group The Steering Group, which first convened early in 1991, now consists of nine members: the President; the Provost; the Vice Presidents for Finance and University Services, Health Sciences, Research, and University Relations; two faculty members and one member of the staff. The primary responsibility of the Steering Group is overall implementation of the strategic plan at the University level. It focuses institutional resources and energies on major institutional aspirations and goals, provides administrative support for plan implementation at all levels, encourages implementation of first- and second-level plans, and ensures consistency between University and Regents-level planning. Through the Office of the Provost, the Steering Group oversees the preparation of the annual progress report on strategic planning. The Steering Group generates initiatives and receives proposals that advance planning goals.
First- and Second-level Planning Groups Each first-level planning group is responsible for formulating and implementing its plan in the context of the overall University planning effort. First-level plans are submitted to the Provost or the appropriate Vice President, who forwards the plans to the Steering Group and the University Strategic Planning Committee. Annual progress reports, required for the Board of Regents, are submitted to Provost and Vice Presidents and reviewed by the Steering Group. First-level planning units are responsible for designating second-level planning units under their jurisdiction, specifying the nature of their plans, and receiving the plans. Consistent with the recommendations of the Faculty Senate in 1993, we urge that second-level planning be integrated with program review to the fullest extent possible and that preparation of additional reports be minimized. Coordination between planning goals of first- and second-level units is the responsibility of first-level planners and full opportunity for contributions and comment from second-level units is expected.


If strategic planning is to be successful, the planning process must be coupled with the budgeting process. To the greatest extent possible, strategic planning should drive the University budget and the budgets of individual units. Funding of strategic planning initiatives should not be a process superimposed on top of the usual budgeting mechanisms nor should it be simply a competition for a small pool of special funds.
Responsibility for the funding process resides with the Steering Group. We recommend consultation with both the Faculty Senate and the Staff Council Budgetary Planning and Review Committees as well as the Strategic Planning Committee. In annual statements of overall University budgets, the President and the Vice President for Finance and University Services have identified connections between budgetary items and the University strategic plan. We expect this practice to continue and recommend that directors of first-level planning units do the same in submitting their budgets.


Strategic planning is intended to be an ongoing, open, and participatory process involving all members of the University community. To be effective, programmatic and resource allocation decisions at all levels of the University must be made in the context of University and unit plans. This is true both in times of growth and when resources are limited; successful planning should be a guide for both expansion and retrenchment. It is also essential that the public and the University community see the relationship between the aspirations, goals, and values articulated in the strategic plan and administrative decisions. Consequently, the administration of the University has an obligation to keep the University community and the public informed about progress toward planning goals. Members of the University community also have an obligation to communicate their concerns to the Strategic Planning Committee. Only if the Committee is fully informed about the opinions of students, staff, and faculty can the strategic plan evolve in accord with the ambitions and aspirations of the entire University community.

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Last updated on July 17, 1995 by Campus Communications