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Strategic Plan 2005-2010

Comments on Strategic Plan draft, Oct. 22

These comments refer to the second draft of the Strategic Plan for 2005-2010. The plan was released Oct. 11.

Admin

Plan doesn't address technological national leadership issues

Although the plan clearly sets ambitious goals for ISU, it fails to deliver the message (the "look and feel") of a university that wants to be a leader, wants to be a national resource, wants to be known for its innovation and is solving the really important problems. The plan very clearly addresses people issues but not technological and national leadership issues. Although people issues are exceedingly important to our mission, the international reputation of institutions that we wish to be peers of (e.g., Berkeley, MIT) have built their reputations more on the latter than the former; and have done so by having an national and international focus, as opposed to a state-centric focus.

These issues can be addressed with a few strategically placed phrases and insertions that "punch up" this intended message. ("old phrase" > "new phrase"

Mission:

"creative endeavors"

  • "leadership in innovation and creativity"

"learning-centered.....programs"

  • "undergraduate, graduate, professional and outreach programs that seamlessly blend internationally recognized, state-of-the-art research and learning"

Culture

"through collaboration and cooperation"

  • "through leadership in innovation, and collaboration"

(Note: Cooperation gives the impression that we are subservient. OTHER entities cooperate with us.)

"with honesty and integrity"
  • "with honesty, integrity and professional ethics"

"with sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs"

  • "By compassionately focusing our resources on the most critical issues that address the needs"

Core values

"excellence in all we do"

  • "leadership and excellence in all we do"

Vision

(Note: Would MIT ever have a goal for their students to be "proficient"? I think not!)

"Students.....lead"

  • "ISU students will become culturally diverse, global leaders in the innovation and application of technology."

Priority, Goals (Note: These additional emphases are absolutely critical to having a more outwardly looking mission)

"Improve the rigor and challenge"

  • "Improve the international reputation"

"...services to strengthen Iowa's economy"

  • "services to strengthen Iowa's and the nation's economy"

"Strengthen...programs aimed at Iowa's"

  • Strengthen...programs aimed at Iowa's and the nation's"

"Promote the wise use of Iowa's resources"

  • "Promote the sustainability of Iowa's economy by promoting the wise use of Iowa's resources while leveraging national and international opportunities"

(Note: The phrase "work" sounds too common. Faculty don't "work" they have careers.)

"Ensure that the university is a great place to learn and work"

  • "Ensure that the university is an internationally recognized institution for learning and building careers"
Faculty

Support students

This second draft of the strategic plan is, in my opinion, much more compatible with that of an academic institution, with much more emphasis on broad student learning!

I have a few minor comments:

Priority 2: discusses increase in number of programs that build on university strengths and "address critical needs and opportunities." It sounds as if this refers only to critical needs of and opportunities at ISU and should be broadened to include a global dimension.

Priority 4: The word "play" seems out of place in this document. Can this term be left out, subsumed into the expression "live, learn, and work"?

Priority 5: Instead of calling the university a "great" place to learn and work, how about using a more meaningful term like "supportive" or "encouraging" which more neatly addresses issues of diversity?

Priority 5, 3rd goal: I would change the wording in the third goal to "..opportunities through which to learn, lead, and enjoy." The term "have fun" connects back with "play" in Priority 4 and simply doesn't fit with general tenor of the document.

Many thanks to the committee for all its diligent work to come up with a feasible document!

Faculty

Add presentations and publications

Under the second priority, an additional Measure category could be strength of undergraduate research experiences, measured as semesters of experience, publications by undergrads, presentations by undergrads, etc.

Staff

Much improved

Congratulations to the group that revised the draft. It is much improved.

My suggested changes are in UPPER CASE. Text that I suggest be removed, is in brackets with the word [REMOVE...].

  • Culture: I added a line on support for individual achievement to avoid the impression that only cooperative efforts contribute to the mission.
    • WITH SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUAL ACHEIVEMENT
  • Core Values: I changed "culture" to "heritage" to avoid confusion with the meaning of culture above. I made the same change in 2 other locations.
    • a diversity of ideas, peoples, and HERTITAGES
  • "Global Citizens" could have meanings that would not be universally accepted. I introduced "globally informed" as a replacement.
    • Students will become well-rounded, citizens who are technologically proficient, culturally AND GLOBALLY informed, and ready to lead.
  • Priority1. I added a line on strengthening student knowledge of "core social and economic institutions". This is not a call for a requirement for a Western Civilization Course, but recognition that before addressing diversity issues, students need to understand the institutions that have had some success in the in the modern world, where to one extent or another we are all the heirs of a common cultural heritage of societies that work.
    • IMPROVE STUDENT KNOWLEDGE OF CORE MODERN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INSTITUTIONS.
  • Priority 3. Understanding of the social rational for intellectual property remains weak both in society and on campus. Additional effort at explaining it is justified.
    • INCREASE STUDENT AND FACULTY UNDERSTANDING OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INSTITUTIONS
  • Add to measures:
    • Number of AND INCOME FROM licenses and options executed
  • Priority 4. Focus on institutions for research management will increase the efficacy of outreach efforts. Increasing student understanding of the institutions of resource management will give substance to efforts to increase resource use efficiency. I moved a line on making the university and example in resource conservation from the next section.
    • Promote INSTITUTIONS THAT WILL EFFECTIVELY CONSERVE IOWA'S RESOUCES
    • MAKE THE UNIVERSITY AN EXAMPLE OF RESOURCE CONSERVATION.
    • INCREASE STUDENT UNDERSTANDING OF OWNERSHIP AND LEGAL REGULATIONS AS RESOURCE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
  • Add to measures:
    • REPORT ON RESOURCE USE EFFICIENCY.
  • Priority 5. The meaning of a '''green' university" could be controversial. It could be interpreted as a political statement about any number of "green" parties around the world. I split the line into 2 different goals: on for the use of the university as an example for the community, above. And the second about enhancing the quality of the environment for the enjoyment of those on in the university community.
    • ENHANCE CAMPUS environmental quality.

I hope that this contributes to a stronger document

Faculty

"Engagement" would suggest partnership, sharing

Similarly to others who have commented, I believe the second version of the plan is much improved over the first version. Here are some suggested issues for thought. The word outreach, in the second bullet of mission, may have a connotation and denotation that is incongruent with other parts of the plan. For many, outreach implies a model of interacting with society in which "experts" from the University tell practicing professionals the right way to do things. But the bullets under several priorities talk about "partnering" or "collaborating." I think we made a wise decision in the current plan to discuss engagement.

To me, engagement has better connotations and a better denotation. It suggest partnership and sharing.

Not all of the bullets under priorities match with measures. Other comments have pointed this out. Here are some examples. What measures the rigor and challenge of all academic programs? Is the data from the National Student Survey of Engagement sufficiently valid to serve as a measure? There are no direct measures of critical thinking or communication skills. There are multiple definitions of critical thinking in the literature and in people's perceptions. Do we have a working agreement on critical thinking that would allow us to assess it?

There do not seem to be measures of awareness of global, cultural, and diversity issues or the "welcomingness" of the environment to career path exploration. I am very pleased and support the increased attention to global issues and study abroad as well as goals about diversity, by the way.

We should not treat learning communities, service learning, internships, research experiences, and international exchanges as ends in themselves.

Each of these instructional strategies can be done poorly or well.

There should be an emphasis on using these approaches well and on promoting learning from such experiences. Participation rates are one measures, but only a partial one and do not reflect the quality of the experiences.

There do not seem to be measures that assess excellence of teaching.

I think the issue of match between goal and assessment applies to most of the priorities. As others have commented, I think we need to assess quality in some of the measures as well as numerical measures. I recognize that this is difficult to do. But we should not be over simplistic. In addition, context needs be considered if measures

are applied to departments and departments compared. The playing field across the University is not even nor should it be. But the productivity of a department is not simply under the control of the department.

Admin

Include goal on partnering more with industry

The gist of the benefit of encouraging policies that grow the amount of industry-sponsored research is that it is a means to "translate discoveries into viable technologies, products and servicesb&" and should include a goal and a measure related to partnering more with industry in research. When our faculty, staff and students participate in industry sponsored research, the benefits are numerous and include accelerated economic development because the infrastructure for doing this already exists, advantage of sponsor's knowledge being gained by us, collaboration with focused industry researchers, and exposure to important practical questions. A suggested modification to the plan follows.

Goals

  • Engage with more companies on collaborative research that aligns with university strategic priorities.

Measures

  • Increase in amount of industry sponsored research.

More comments

Send comments

Send your comments on the first draft of the plan to strategicplan by Oct. 29.