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Results of the Strategic Visioning Summit: Report from President Michael Driscoll

Since the October 28, 2013, summit, we have carefully reviewed the comments recorded at the breakout sessions and other input I have received. From this review, we have identified key themes and ideas.

The summit produced a wealth of good information. As might be expected, some of the information has resulted in changes to the vision statement. Some information will help guide the strategic planning process that is just beginning; some will feed the self-study process for reaffirming our institutional accreditation. And finally, some of the information provides suggestions to be considered for immediate action. We can’t hope to find the full benefits of the information right away, and as a result, we will make that information available to the IUP community for future use.  

At this time, we are providing the following documents:  

  1. This document, which summarizes some of the key themes identified from the summit
  2. A final version of the vision statement. This statement will be taken to the University Senate’s December 3 meeting and the Council of Trustees’ December 5 meeting, with a request that the two bodies endorse the vision.
  3. A marked-up copy of the final version of the vision statement, showing substantive changes from the draft used at the summit and including explanations for each of the changes.
  4. The verbatim notes taken during the summit breakout sessions. These have been put in a consistent format but are otherwise unchanged from what was submitted from each group.  

As you review the material, it is important to note that the language of the vision is intentionally broad, abstract, and occasionally ambiguous. (For example, the Keeping Excellent Education Affordable breakout group asked, “Affordable to who [sic]?” and mentioned various interpretations of “return on education investment.”) This is to make sure that the vision is applicable to the broad range of units, programs, and locations that make up our university. The university strategic plan and unit-level plans will provide detail and identify specific initiatives to help us move toward the vision and to demonstrate our progress. One example is the phrase in the vision, “IUP assesses society’s needs and opportunities. …” The vision intentionally does not specifically identify today’s needs, but I have asked Provost Tim Moerland to consider including a needs assessment as part of the development of the university strategic plan.    

Some Key Ideas from the Summit

The vision is strongly grounded in who we think we are today but will also cause us to stretch to become what we want to be for the future. Some comments suggest that we have already achieved at least some parts of the vision. (For example, some from the Transforming Students breakout group said that we are already very diverse.) Others suggest that we have a lot of work left to do. (For example, also from the Transforming Students breakout group: “I don’t think its [sic] true.”)  

There is a need to identify specific measures and targets for those measures to define and operationalize the vision. The need to define our goals for the student body (“hardworking,” “ready to learn,” “diverse”) and what we mean by the success of our alumni were mentioned by several breakout groups. There are many examples throughout the summit notes. It is my hope that both strategic planning and the work to reaffirm our institutional accreditation will help move this work forward.  

The connection to Indiana and western Pennsylvania is an important part of IUP’s identity and strength, but we should aspire to connect more broadly with and better the world. Almost every breakout group mentioned that we are already serving students and communities beyond western Pennsylvania or commented on the lack of globalization or internationalization in the draft vision. It is clear that we want to go beyond our roots as a regional institution while not forgetting our region.  

We need to connect more intentionally and visibly the broad range of student experiences, faculty/staff work, and the work of each of IUP’s campuses. Several groups pointed out the many good things we are already doing. Many also made the point that we can be much more effective in educating the whole student by connecting curriculum and activities. (For example: Curriculum is more than a collection of courses; we need a holistic approach; we need to be multi- and interdisciplinary.)  

Some processes need to be streamlined and improved to ensure IUP is responsive (in multiple senses and to multiple audiences). Perhaps the key example is provided by the comments on the curriculum process made by the Responsive Curriculum for the Future breakout group. This is the sort of work that can start now.  

There is a range of opinions about the characteristics of IUP’s desired student body. Some comments suggest that we must not abandon students who are underprepared. Others suggest we should focus on well-prepared students.  

We need to continue to improve how we make people inside and outside the university aware of IUP’s many opportunities and positive impact. Each breakout group provided some excellent suggestions for better promoting all of the good things IUP does. I am asking that my cabinet review these suggestions for ways to further improve our marketing of IUP.  

The draft vision needed several improvements to make language consistent, positive, and inclusive. There are many examples, including comments that “shaping” may not be a good way to describe the positive impact IUP has on its students.

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