President’s Update, February 3, 2012

Dear members of the Drew University Community:

I am delighted to direct you to the final draft of the Drew University Strategic Plan, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval at the February 17 meeting.

Well over two years of thought and discussion have gone into this document. It began its life in a President’s Task Force of staff, faculty, and trustees who responded in their report to my challenge to discuss how Drew might thrive in the most difficult of economic times–times that, for higher education, persist in the aftermath of a deep recession. That document, revised after extensive community responses, then led to a Strategic Planning Group effort that took this mainly academic and curricular report and built up two other sections, on the University’s identity and branding and on sustaining its human and financial resources. In the meantime, a Student Life taskforce of twelve undergraduates and representatives from the Graduate and Theological schools, undertook their own report on the environment for students on campus. The Strategic Plan refers to this document and we will continue to use it as a guide. As for the Plan itself, individual schools and units worked on proposals that were then evaluated by the Planning Group; and a rough draft was presented in October. A faculty group in the College revised that document extensively to have it mesh with the Visioning or Branding effort, which had achieved great consensual approval across the community. With further additions from the University Senate, that version was employed again and revised by a central administrative team to come up with this final draft.

The Plan has been written, then, by literally hundreds of Drew community members. The final draft seeks to express directions and goals widely supported and to cover a variety of issues without losing focus, for a strategic plan must indeed be strategic and not merely a something-for-everyone document. As we go forward, I will assign overseers to each recommendation, will call an ongoing advisory group into being to give me advice on setting priorities, and will create a timeline for each recommendation. At each of the three Board meetings during every academic year, we will prepare for both the Trustees and the community an update on where we are, to ensure that we stay on course and assess each effort realistically. While this is indeed a final draft, then, it certainly should be seen as a living, ongoing document going forward.

I believe this is an excellent plan, and I am extremely grateful to all of you who have contributed to making it so. I am anxious for your comments; and I pledge that we will take the plan as our guide and employ it actively and thoughtfully as we move from its words to its various enactments.

With good wishes,

Bob Weisbuch


President’s Update, September 7, 2011

I want to begin this update on our strategic plan with a word of thanks. The campus demonstrated an extraordinary amount of energy and creativity in developing more than 130 action initiatives last year. I appreciate everyone’s input to date.

Under the leadership of Pamela Gunter-Smith, Carlos Yordán and Dorothy Meaney, the Strategic Plan Working Group met over the summer to review, refine and begin to prioritize those initiatives.

The updated draft is here.

Presentation from 10/4/2011 Information Session

I am charging the University Senate, led by Professor of Psychology C. Robin Timmons, with organizing a campuswide review and discussion of the plan. The trustees will also be providing feedback at a retreat scheduled for Friday, September 16.

Discussion of the plan should conclude by November 1. At that time, in concert with the cabinet and Strategic Plan Working Group, I will consider all feedback and we will develop a final draft of the plan. It will be presented to the trustees for approval at their February meeting.

To fulfill the strategic plan’s third goal, which was to strengthen our identity and better position the university, another group of faculty, staff and students, aka the Identity Team, concentrated this summer on defining our institutional identity. With the help of Greg Parsons, a consultant who is assisting with this project, the group focused on four key areas: our liberal arts mission, learning (how we teach), outcomes (both in terms of the success of our graduates and the impact they have on the world), and our university character.

We believe that significant opportunities exist within this framework to effectively distinguish Drew as an institution. The Identity Team will take the lead on developing specific ideas to do this in each of the four areas, involving the community as its work progresses. It will focus its work on those approaches that align with objectives and strategies outlined in the strategic plan.

Ultimately, the two efforts — finalizing the plan as a whole and distilling Drew’s identity — will need to dovetail. Better defining our institutional identity gives the strategic plan a deeper purpose, while the plan lends ballast to the promise of our identity.

I know we all care deeply about this institution and its future. While there is more work to be done, I am encouraged by where the strategic plan will take us: To a better, stronger, more well-defined Drew.

President’s Message – December 15, 2010

The task force responsible for the creation of our strategic plan met in November and reviewed the many suggestions from our community meetings and blogs and the Board retreat. While some of these suggestions have been incorporated into the plan, many will also be carried forward to the next phase of the process. It is now time for us to work together to create the concrete ideas that will fuel the plan. Personally, I hope these action plans are full of high octane when complete.

I look forward to the many conversations we will have over the next months and to providing the Board with an update on our progress in February and a full and exciting plan for their approval in May. True thanks for your participation in this important process.

The revised plan can be found here.

President’s Message – September 29, 2010

In spring term 2009, I convened a Presidential Task Force on Strategic Planning to think with me about the future of the University. The group examined Drew’s mission and values and, given the challenges and opportunities facing us, recommended that we immediately engage in a university-wide strategic planning process. Over the summer, a small group of faculty and staff (some from the PTF) worked with cabinet members and an external facilitator to develop a broad outline of a strategic plan as a working document. Using the PTF report as a guide, this Strategic Planning Working Group developed four major goals, each with supporting objectives and strategies. The group also provided examples to illustrate how we might translate these objectives into actionable items. It is important to emphasize that these are only examples. I have every expectation that you, along with our trustees, will offer additional ideas to be considered.

The draft plan can be found here.

My goal has been to ensure that the planning process will be a university-wide effort with many opportunities for community involvement. To this end, I invite you to review and comment on the draft outline of the plan. You may do so electronically or in person by attending one of several scheduled community forums. … Your feedback will be important as we prepare for the board retreat in late October where our trustees will have their first opportunity to review and comment on the draft. The Strategic Planning Working Group will reconvene in early November to incorporate any additional feedback and finalize the strategic plan outline. The document will then be returned to the community where our various schools and units will develop concrete and actionable strategies that will bring the plan to life. It is at that stage that the plan will take on an active reality. My goal is to present a final strategic plan to the board for approval in May 2011.

Our strategic plan will be only a plan should we fail to act upon its recommendations. I am committed to its implementation and the continuing assessment of its results. It must be a living document that brings into focus all that we do as we chart the course for Drew’s future.

With appreciation for your commitment to Drew,
Bob Weisbuch