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February 13, 2004

Dear Colleagues,

I still recall my introduction to strategic planning as a young professor. I thought the administration had embarked on a faddish trend that would result in make-work projects for overworked faculty. Years later as department chair, I recall receiving strategic planning documents and poring over them anxiously to see if there was any way I could possibly insert the French department into a framework which appeared to be designed by an anti-humanist.

Despite my reservations and misgivings, both experiences (and many others since then) have taught me that strategic planning is thought-provoking, useful, necessary (required by states and boards), and a good way to bring people together in a productive fashion to determine our own future. Strategic plans provide guidelines and goals by which we can mark our course in good times and bad.

In the last two years we have had extensive open sessions, consulting faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community about where the university is and where it should go. Colleges and departments were consulted on strategic areas and themes in preparation for the financial campaign. From these sessions, we deduced the guiding principles of the planning process. These principles capture the gist of the campus consultations. They are sufficiently broad that every unit and each individual can identify a role for him or herself. The principles are intended to provide a unified theme for planning. For example, "excellence" includes all programs, all levels of instruction, indeed, everything we do. Research can inform all our efforts and applies to undergraduate research opportunities and courses as well as graduate and postgraduate work.

Realizing that everyone is very busy, I thank you in advance for your collaboration and contribution to this important project. I would also like to thank Dr. Tom Isenhour for his dedicated leadership in helping us develop a tool that will help open the door to a better future for us all. Numerous open sessions and group discussions are being planned so that everyone will have ample opportunity to participate in this exciting initiative.

Sincerely yours,

Roseann Runte

This article was posted on: February 13, 2004

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