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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Strategic plan draft announced

Published: March 8, 2013
Section: Front Page

After months of community feedback on its preliminary framework and workshops with student, faculty, staff and alumni, university officials released a draft of the strategic plan on Tuesday, highlighting their commitments to academic excellence, faculty investment, research opportunities and responsible stewardship.

In addition to outlining principles and values, the plan calls for investing in campus infrastructure by quadrupling the $2.5 million currently spent on renovating and renewing campus buildings. Lawrence said the new funds would be outlined in the FY 2014 budget, presented to the Board of Trustees, along with the draft of the plan at their March meeting.
“Our facilities have a practical influence on the work we do at Brandeis and are also the most tangible expression of our values and commitments,” the draft stated. “We should also seize opportunities to re-fashion outdoor spaces, a cost-effective way to enhance the campus appearance and experience. In light of the goals and priorities emerging from this strategic plan, we must develop an updated master campus plan.”

At the faculty meeting Thursday afternoon, Lawrence explained that with pending federal research cuts from sequestration and an uncertain economy, long-term budget planning at a research institution like Brandeis becomes increasingly difficult.

“There’s a level of insecurity that plays into our planning,” Lawrence said.

The strategic plan process, which Provost Steve Goldstein has organized as chair of the strategic planning committee solicited feedback during the summer and last semester at campus workshops and town hall style meetings. Members of the planning committee also wrote task force reports last semester.

After community members and the Board of Trustees shares its feedback later this month, Lawrence will then present the Board with a final version of the plan to approve at its May meeting. If approved, the final plan will be released to the public and officials will begin to implement it.

The bulk of the plan is centered around six strategic goals: transformative learning experiences; opportunities for creation and innovation; invest in faculty and staff; fostering a lifelong community; advancing responsible stewardship; and focusing on academic strengths as priorities. It also includes six core initiatives: the sciences; creatives arts; increasing digital capacities; educating in business, politics and culture; investments in scholarships and faculty chairs; and renewed attention to campus infrastructure and design.
A core theme of the strategic plan draft was its intent to balance values with practical restraints on limited resources.

“This strategic plan is rooted in a clear sense of Brandeis’ heritage and a strongconviction that this university continues to offer something singular and valuable inAmerican higher education,” the draft stated. “It is also informed by recognition of current realities, both in higher education generally and at Brandeis in particular. We seek to strike abalance between realism and ambition.”

The plan also pointed out that recruitment must continue to reach out to other regions of the country besides New England.

“The college age population is beginning to shrink in the Northeast, while growing in the South and the West; and a growing percentage of the college age population are Asian and Latino/Hispanic. We must intensify our recruitment efforts, drawing upon faculty, alumni and parents, as well as admissions staff. This challenge is also a welcome opportunity to increase the diversity of our student body, while at the same time increasing selectivity.”