Boston College has initiated a new strategic planning effort that will identify institutional priorities for the next decade.
The University Strategic Planning Initiative (USPI) comes on the heels of the successful $1.5 billion “Light the World” capital campaign, which was launched to support the Seven Strategic Directions identified in the University’s 2006 Strategic Plan.
University President William P. Leahy, S.J., has named Executive Vice President Michael J. Lochhead and Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley to serve as USPI co-chairs.
They will work with a steering committee composed of deans, faculty, senior administrators and students to assess progress made on the Seven Strategic Directions, and identify new strategic priorities.
The Steering Committee will conduct internal analyses, gather recommendations and ideas from the University community and identify priority areas of focus before creating a strategic plan draft document for review by the Boston College Board of Trustees.
The time frame for the planning effort will be roughly 18-24 months.
“Embarking on a new strategic planning effort at Boston College requires attention to vision, mission and decisions,” said Fr. Leahy. "It calls us to devote time and energy to a candid assessment of our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities as a major university with a distinctive heritage, to dialogue, analysis and reflection, especially in the context of our history and tradition, and to the creative process, based on the conviction that people committed to strengthening our institution can develop plans that are aspirational and inspirational.”
Added Lochhead, “Any successful strategic planning effort needs to ensure that the University takes stock of where it is — what its strengths are, what its weaknesses are and that it understands how these will inform positioning for a future full of new opportunities and challenges. With the Light the World campaign having met its goal and the new senior leadership team in place, launching a strategic planning effort at this point in time allows for new voices and perspectives to emerge and help prepare the University for the future. Ideally, a successful strategic planning effort will set the stage for the development of the next phase of the campus master plan and ultimately serve as the foundation for the University’s next capital campaign.”
“Boston College’s modern history has been marked by regular processes of strategic planning, and we’ve all benefited from this thoughtful approach to building the future of the University,” said Quigley. “I look forward to working with colleagues from across campus as we grapple with the many challenges facing higher education while we imagine how to build an even stronger Boston College.”
Members of the Steering Committee, which include four faculty members, two deans, and two students, say that a key element of the strategic planning process will be a focus on academic initiatives.
“As a faculty member on the strategic planning committee, I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the strengths and potential of the various academic programs at Boston College, and the way the University can position itself to make a distinctive mark in the areas of research and teaching and in service to society at large,” said Theology Department Chair Catherine Cornille, who is the Newton College Alumnae Professor. “The effort will require broad consultation, and I hope to hear from colleagues from across the University about their vision for the future of Boston College.”
Added Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau, “Boston College has made extraordinary progress over the last decade, but this is not the time for us to rest on our laurels. There are many significant challenges that confront higher education today, and we will need a clear vision for the future if the University is to continue to move forward. The strategic planning process offers us an opportunity to think about how we will build and maintain excellence for Boston College in the decades ahead.
“I think it is fair to say that we must be prepared to make some meaningful changes that are both consistent with our mission, and our desire to offer a compelling vision of higher education that speaks to the world in a time of rapid social, economic, and political change.”
The Steering Committee will kick off an assessment process in February, with self-study teams at each of the eight schools and colleges and all vice presidential administrative areas, to evaluate progress made during the past 10 years, identify trends and changes in higher education that may affect Boston College, and explore strategic opportunities. Additionally, there will be several study teams that will assess those University-wide initiatives that span multiple schools, departments or divisions.
The self-studies, which are slated to be completed by the end of the spring semester, will then be reviewed by the Steering Committee and the Executive Committee, which includes Fr. Leahy, Quigley, Lochhead, Vice President for University Mission and Ministry John Butler, S.J., Senior Vice President for University Advancement James J. Husson, and Financial Vice President and Treasurer John D. Burke, to examine proposals within the context of the University’s mission, ongoing institutional goals and available resources.
“Given the pressures and challenges facing higher education, now is an especially appropriate time to assess our progress over the past decade and develop a new strategic plan to carry us for the next 10 years,” said Fr. Leahy. “Doing all of that will involve much discussion and analysis and sometimes difficult choices.”
The strategic planning process is a central component of the culture of planning and assessment that has permeated Boston College for decades and been a defining feature of the Leahy presidency.
Boston College’s previous strategic planning effort, titled the University Assessment and Planning Initiative (UAPI), featured input from more than 200 members of the BC community, including faculty, students, alumni, and administrators. Its completion in 2006 led to the creation of BC’s Seven Strategic Directions, which set a clear institutional path for Boston College in anticipation of its 150th anniversary in 2013. UAPI also led to an accompanying 10-year Institutional Master Plan to provide the infrastructure to support the Strategic Plan, and inspired the Light the World campaign to fund selected programs and projects.
Steering Committee members say they have a successful blueprint to follow as a result of the UAPI effort, and the freedom to rely on new tools and insights to guide the current strategic planning process.
“There is great enthusiasm and a wide range of views on this committee, and [Vice President for Planning and Assessment] Kelli Armstrong and her team in Institutional Planning and Assessment give us access to data that we did not have in the last planning process,” says Adam Krueckeberg, former associate dean of finance and administration at the School of Theology and Ministry, who was tapped by Fr. Leahy to serve as program director for USPI.
“This data has made and will continue to make all the difference in helping committee members to make informed decisions on behalf of the University.”
Armstrong agrees that reviewing data, listening to and examining ideas and scanning the environment for opportunities among peer institutions is crucial to a successful strategic planning effort.
“Data-driven decisions and thoughtful research on our strengths and weaknesses will have a large role in this strategic planning effort,” said Armstrong.
“Our assessment work will give us a close view of today’s higher education setting, and will help us to leverage BC’s strengths toward an exciting vision for the future.”
A website has been established to post updates on the strategic planning process, and for members of the BC community to provide input in the coming months. It is available at www.bc.edu/strategicplanning.
Assoc. Prof. Brian J. Gareau (Sociology)
Newton College Alumnae Professor of Theology Catherine M. Cornille
Prof. Welkin E. Johnson (Biology)
Assoc. Prof. Billy Soo (Accounting)
Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Dean Gregory Kalscheur, S.J.
Boston College Law School Dean Vincent D. Rougeau
Hagop Toghramadjian ’17
Vice President for Planning and Assessment Kelli J. Armstrong
Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Jones
Associate Vice President for Development Beth E. McDermott
Vice President for Human Resources David Trainor
Chief Investment Officer and Associate Treasurer John J. Zona