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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Strategic Planning groups to focus on immediate future

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: News

Established at the commencement of the 2011-12 academic year, the strategic planning initiative is designed to “position Brandeis for mission success in the future” according to Elaine Kuttner, a consultant from Cambridge Concord Associates who is collaborating with the university on the effort. The committee, led by Provost Steve Goldstein, encourages participation from alumni, student, faculty, staff and trustees.

According to the publicized summaries of input sessions, “all groups found that the institution’s greatest strengths were often simultaneously its greatest weaknesses.” Faculty sessions identified that “most often cited was the desire for an interdisciplinary creative arts building that brings all the creative arts together in one place.”

The sessions focused on central attributes of Brandeis, including the social justice focus, the combination of research facilities within a liberal arts education, Jewish identity and economic challenges. Although it is acknowledged that the university’s connection to the Jewish community was central to its progress and a key aspect of its roots, the report surmised “there is also a deep and profound need, often voiced by faculty, staff and students, for Brandeis to be recognized, and branded, not solely as a Jewish institution but as an open, diverse scholarly institution.”

Kuttner expanded upon the goals of the committee, acknowledging the challenges presented by the current economic situation. She asserts the need “to ensure that the cost of a Brandeis education does not become prohibitive, and that students continue to have access to the highest quality education possible.” Regarding the planning process, she stresses the need to address questions such as: “What can we do to make Brandeis a place where an excellent education is affordable to students and at the same time ensure the institution’s financial health and sustainability?”

Although the focus of the committee is centralized to the next five years, the plan incorporates an extended vision for the future of Brandeis. Proposed initiatives included the creation of a Brandeis law school, the development of stronger links with corporations, global collaboration and an increased emphasis on diversity, among numerous others.

When questioned as to her insider view on the potential of the process, Kuttner said, “From what I can see it has a great chance of succeeding … The information gathering sessions and the quality of input by students, staff, faculty, trustees and alumni has been excellent and has already had a strong impact on the steering committee discussions and thus the direction of the plan.” To her understanding, approximately 600 students have become involved in the initiative so far, and thus “by taking the time to contribute their viewpoints and ideas, they are giving a gift to future generations of Brandeis students.”