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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a strategic plan?

As stewards of the University of Richmond at this moment in our institutional history, we have a weighty obligation to future generations of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The University provides an extraordinary education, and we inherit from The Richmond Promise a strong foundation upon which to build. The development of a new strategic plan at this time offers an opportunity to build on the University’s momentum as we imagine, articulate, and realize our shared vision for the future of the University.

How will the new strategic plan be developed?

The plan will be developed through a highly participatory process that invites all University of Richmond stakeholders to contribute to the development of a shared vision for the future. Schools and divisions of the University will also write plans for their areas that are aligned with the shared University values and goals articulated in the University strategic plan.

Will all University constituents have input to the plan?

University faculty, staff, students, and alumni will all have opportunities to provide input throughout the process, including through the strategic planning website, in community discussions led by President Crutcher and Steering Committee Co-Chair Jan French, and in meetings focused on the strategic plan within schools, divisions, and academic departments.

What is the organization for development of the strategic plan?

President Crutcher has established a Steering Committee to initiate the strategic planning process and draft initial documents for active consideration by the University community. The Steering Committee includes representatives from the faculty, staff, student body, and alumni. Working Groups will develop goals and initiatives for each of the themes identified in the strategic plan.

What is the Steering Committee's role?

Steering Committee members are responsible for seeking input from the University community to inform development of the plan in the initial stages and ensuring that feedback is appropriately reflected in the plan as it develops. The Steering Committee produced the first draft of the mission, vision, and values statements, based on feedback gathered to date. Those drafts will be circulated for community feedback and will also propose the themes around which the plan will be organized.

What will the Working Groups do?

Working Groups have been established for each theme in the plan. The Working Groups were asked — charged — to develop a small number of goals and initiatives that the University should consider pursuing over the next five years to advance the University’s work in that thematic area. Nominations for working groups were sought from all sectors of the University community, and the Steering Committee Co-Chairs appreciate the many dozens of nominations they received.

What is the timeline for development of the strategic plan?

The strategic plan will be completed at the end of the spring term 2017, after more than a year of discussion, deliberation, and opportunity for input.

Key steps in the process with approximate times for completion are:

December 2015–March 2016: Community members were asked to share their views on the institutional values and the most important challenges and opportunities for the University in the coming years.

April–May 2016: Draft mission, vision, and values statements were shared with community members for their review. Community members were also asked to provide feedback on the draft themes for the new plan and nominate individuals to serve on the strategic plan Working Groups.

May–October 2016: Once the Working Groups are named, University community members will be asked to provide suggestions to the Working Groups about potential goals for the plan and initiatives that might support the University’s aspirations in each area.

October–December 2016: Working Groups will share first drafts of their goals and initiatives for consideration by the University community.

January–February 2017: A full draft plan, incorporating the feedback on the Working Group drafts, will be shared with the University community for feedback.

Spring 2017: A full strategic plan, which reflects the feedback from earlier in the semester, will be presented to the University community for review and endorsement.

More information about the timeline is available on the Process page.

Who will write the plan?

The Steering Committee produced the first draft of the mission, vision, and values statements, based on feedback gathered to date. The Steering Committee circulated those drafts for community feedback and also proposed the themes around which the plan will be organized. Working Groups developed draft goals and initiatives based on the four themes: Academic Excellence, Intellectual Community, Access and Affordability, and Thriving and Inclusive Community. Those goals and initiatives have been consolidated and shared with the University community for their feedback. A writing committee, led by Steering Committee Co-Chair Jan French, and including Co-Chairs from each of the four working groups will use the community feedback to develop a first draft of the Plan, which will be shared with the University community in February 2017. At each significant juncture in the strategic planning process, the University community will be asked to provide substantive as well as editorial input. 

How will the Working Group members be chosen?

Members of the University community were asked to offer nominations to the Working Groups. Key groups including the Faculty Senate and USAC were consulted. President Crutcher and Faculty Senate President Jan French, Steering Committee Co-Chairs, developed the Working Group membership based on that feedback, ensuring that the Working Groups are representative of the University community and include the expertise necessary for the area assigned to each Working Group.

What do you mean by a "charge" for the Working Groups? What will be shared with the Working Groups?

The charge is the guidance that will be provided to each Working Group by the Steering Committee.

It will include clear timeline and guidance about when drafts will be due. That schedule will ensure that members of the campus community have a chance to provide feedback on the emerging drafts from the Working Groups along the way. Working Groups will be responsible for incorporating that feedback into revised drafts.

The charge will also include important questions for consideration and relevant feedback that has been provided by campus constituents, including feedback provided through the strategic planning website.

Finally, the charges will include guidance about resources and resource constraints, as well as expectations about metrics for assessing the success of proposed plan elements.

Will the Working Groups meet during the summer?

The Working Groups will organize themselves and may choose to meet in the summer. First drafts of recommended goals and initiatives will be due in October, and each Working Group can determine how best to meet that deadline.

How detailed will the plan be?

This is a high level plan for the University’s future. Goals will be broad, rather than prescriptive, allowing room for specific areas within the campus community to develop specific implementation plans. Initiatives are likely to be at the program or policy level, but they will not provide specific recommendations for actions. An initiative might be, for example, to expand an existing program, consider the feasibility and potential effectiveness of a change in existing policy, or to review some aspect of academic life.

Who will implement the plan? Who will decide which initiatives make sense?

Implementation of plan elements will be the responsibility of the appropriate unit of the University. For example, any elements having to do with the curriculum would be recommended to the faculty for consideration as part of regular faculty processes. Likewise, a recommendation about financial aid would be the responsibility of the Vice President for Enrollment Management and the financial aid team to consider, refine, and implement as appropriate.

We should be ambitious in our goals, but the plan won’t change who is responsible for any aspect of University’s life or bypass our processes for policy approvals or allocations of funds.

How will the Provost-sponsored faculty conversations and faculty retreat contribute to the plan?

The faculty conversations and May 2016 working luncheon will support the plan in two ways:

  1. Notes will be taken in those conversations, and that feedback, provided to the Steering Committee, will be used to make revisions to the vision and values statements as well as to develop the Working Groups charges;
  2. Ideas generated in those conversations will also be shared with the relevant Working Groups, to help seed their thinking about goals and initiatives that should be considered as part of the plan development.
If my unit or school wants to pursue a new program or activity in the future, does it have to be reflected in the strategic plan?

Not necessarily. A strategic plan has to be dynamic, and the University’s plan will articulate our shared objectives at a high level. Schools and units should pursue initiatives that are in alignment with the shared values and goals articulated in the plan, but every initiative that the University will pursue in the coming years will not be listed in the University strategic plan. As part of the implementation process, more good ideas will emerge, and initiatives that were not originally identified as part of the plan will be pursued to advance the plan’s goals.

What will be the connection between the strategic plan and future budget allocations?

Given that higher education is facing an increasingly resource-constrained environment and that the University of Richmond is not immune to such challenges, any meaningful strategic plan has to be linked to resource allocations. Guidance about resource expectations will be part of the charge to each Working Group, and consideration of tradeoffs and the resource allocations necessary to support the plan will be part of the budget deliberation process, including consultation with the Planning and Priorities Committee. The plan will also inform, but not dictate, the priorities for the University’s next capital campaign.