Road map strategic planning kicks off
By Katie EllisMore than 400 people came together in the Mandela Room on Sept. 10, to kick off the University's Road Map initiative. The strategic planning process began taking shape a week or two after President Harvey Stenger arrived on campus, he told the crowd.
"We've done a lot of planning to plan for this plan, and we're here today to really get started building a road map for Binghamton University's future," he said.
"The concept of using a road map is that we have a plan that we know has to be modified along the way, but will get us where we want to go," he said. "This session is to give context to the work we're asking you to do."
Providing that context included a review of the University's mission and vision adopted in 2010. They remain unchanged, Stenger said, but the vision seemed a little long. "We needed a shorter sentence for it to be remembered," Stenger said, "so I thought, 'Let's just make becoming the premier public of the 21st century our goal.' Of course, the first time I said it, it seemed a little awkward, but we're the ones who get to define premier. We get to create where we're headed."
Stenger spoke of the benefits of NYSUNY 2020, which gives Binghamton University and SUNY a stable budget for five years, rational tuition increases that support campuses while also holding harmless those students who don't have the financial ability to pay the increases, and a capital investment of $35 million for a new building at the Innovative Technologies Complex to house research in areas of smart energy. "Smart energy isn't just about technology and science," he said. "It's about policy and behavior and many other elements that the entire campus can get behind.
Justifying the plan for growth isn't difficult, said Stenger, who listed nine reasons it makes sense, including the volume of undergraduate applications we receive, the quality of students we enroll, the local and state economies that depend on us and the opportunity to expand the diversity of campus. "We also need more things Binghamton in Texas and Singapore and Malaysia — spreading across the globe is good for us. We're still a secret and we need to unveil it to more people."
As for the Road Map process, "the more people, the more brains. There are a lot of things you can bring to this process that we would never come up with on our own," Stenger told the Road Map team members. His goal? To reduce the degrees of separation from six to two. "Anything that happens over the next four months will have only two degrees of separation.
"It's very important in adopting the plan. The more people involved, the easier it will be for us to own this plan," he added.
Turning to academic excellence, Stenger reviewed the University's hiring plan. The first year of its five-year plan to hire 150 net new faculty is complete, and the provost is forming an overarching faculty committee to define where we will be hiring our next 120 faculty, Stenger said. The criteria are to hire in disciplines where we can easily increase our international reputation in research, improve educational experiences for our students and enhance our financial position with respect to revenue. The committee will also focus on interdisciplinary connections and the ability to cluster hires in areas of strength. In parallel to the faculty hiring plan, Binghamton will hire 175 staff — 35 each year of the NYSUNY 2020 plan.
The Road Map Process will also heavily impact the University's budget process, Stenger said. "There was a very good process in place when I arrived, but I know it was missing the input we needed from cross-discipline conversations, so the current process will be replaced."
Moving forward, budget decisions will be made from proposals brought forward by the nine Road Map teams, with a focus on academic and operational excellence. "For 2013-2014 and forward, we will use proposals you will bring forward," Stenger said. "Then for 2014-2015, we will have some ideas to carry forward that couldn't be funded, so we will have a modified process next fall bringing back the team co-chairs to see how we're doing, and we will do that each fall with conversations across boundaries."
The proposals will take one of three forms, which Stenger calls the 3-Is:
• Initiatives – activities that will become ongoing concerns and that require base funding from our new revenues and/or require reallocation of existing budgets
• Innovations – require only one-time funding from new revenues and/or existing budgets and must have the potential to rapidly move us along our Road Map to being the premier public university
• Ideas – thoughts that need further study, most likely using one-time funding from new revenues and existing budgets, to determine if the idea should become an initiative
The timeline for the work of the nine Road Map teams is an aggressive one. Each team must complete its vision of aspirational goals by mid-October, with draft 3-I proposals scheduled for submission in mid-November and final proposals due in mid-December. Decisions on what proposals will be funded will be made by Stenger and the provost.
Stenger wrapped up his remarks by reminding team members that they will not be alone in their work. "I'll be there and so will your sponsors and co-chairs," he said. "I'm really right now putting the future of this University into your hands, so go get 'em. Knock 'em dead!"
For additional information on the Road Map Process, including the list of teams and their members, visit the Road Map website.