Strategic planning is generally a more complex matter for universities than it is for businesses. While companies have a weighty responsibility to do well for their shareholders, universities must engage a wide range of men and women who yearn for far more than an impressive year-end balance sheet.
For those individuals—students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, donors, and trustees—a university is a community, a place to which they belong as surely as they do to their families and to their cities or towns. And as is the case with those forms of community, not only is the future a matter of interest to university “citizens,” but so are values, mission, and a sense of common purpose.
In planning the future outlined in our recently completed strategic plan, Boston College attended to diverse voices: from members of the Board of Trustees to freshman students; from faculty chair-holders to alumni who know Boston College less for its current national eminence and more for the trolleys they rode to the Heights each day, carrying their lunches in brown paper bags.
The academic plans outlined in this strategic plan draw upon the wisdom,
experience, imagination, passion, and hopes of hundreds of devoted
individuals who help to form our community. These men and women
considered Boston College’s heritage, current status, and the ways in
which it can best engage and fulfill its mission in this new century.
Out of those deliberations and reports, the leadership of the University fashioned a vision for the future, one that draws its inspiration and its goals from Boston College’s mission and potential, as well as the world’s needs and possibilities.
That vision led to the seven principal "strategic directions." Each emerges from an existing strength; each flows from our mission as a Jesuit Catholic institution; each offers the possibility of distinguishing Boston College from its peers in a critical area; and each speaks to a core dimension of the University’s life and of the lives of men and women.
Taken together, the directions are a guide to the University’s development in the next decade, certainly, but a reminder, as well, of our past, of the centuries-old tradition of learning and teaching of which we are part. For example, when we speak in this strategic plan of building a future in which the liberal arts are renewed and again made significant for all our students, we stand with feet firmly on the creative ground of Jesuit and Catholic higher education.
Likewise, when we write in these pages of a special commitment to research in fields ranging from elementary education to aging, we do so because the goal draws from Boston College’s long-standing tradition of social concern and of working for what St. Ignatius Loyola called “the greater good.”
The academic aims outlined in this strategic plan reflect not simply the conclusions drawn from a planning report but also a community’s conviction that Boston College must strive to meet the crucial challenges of our time, just as it met the complex challenges of the past.
William P. Leahy, S.J.