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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: When planning becomes excessive

Published: November 30, 2012
Section: Editorials

There comes a point when planning becomes excessive and we believe that the officials organizing the Brandeis strategic plan have reached it. When explanation for how you are going to write the draft of a plan, which in itself is a rough framework of principles, takes an entire semester, the process becomes so complicated and confusing that it loses sight of its original purpose.

We applaud administrators for their sincere efforts to include feedback from all members of the university, including students, faculty, trustees, alumni and staff. Faculty voiced their disappointment over the October framework’s generalities and vague language at a meeting earlier this fall. They demanded that President Fred Lawrence release task force reports. Yet their appropriate request for specifics will likely be disappointed when the actual rough draft of the plan is released in the coming weeks.

The reason is that strategic plans are not governing constitutions. They establish guidelines, priorities and reaffirm principles. Yet, what the new administration need remember is that a plan does not need to significantly change guidelines in place for the last 20 years. Soliciting feedback is beneficial to any university, company or organization, but the process of developing a draft of the plan should not take more than a year.

In an email to the community on Monday, Provost Steve Goldstein wrote, “The process will continue to be a collaborative one. The writing groups for the draft plan, consisting of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee faculty and deans, are now reaching out to members of the community for advice and input. There will be opportunities for review of the draft plan by formal governance bodies. Following that, the draft plan will be released to the entire community for review and comment.”

In short, we are ready to see the long awaited draft and we urge officials to consider expediting the process. A senior university official present, or briefed, on the many meetings this semester could take ownership and write the draft.