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Mapping the Future

The University is using an innovative planning approach grounded in design thinking to look to the future. (Photo by Gary Gold)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 10, 2017) – The Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC), a central coordinating group of faculty and staff convened in August to develop the University’s strategic plan, was hard at work over winter break and continues to drive the University’s inclusive planning effort throughout the Spring Semester.

The University is using an innovative planning approach grounded in design thinking – a strategy that first generates many possibilities and then thoughtfully narrows them down to ultimately create a guiding strategic framework and roadmap for action.

Following December’s Concert of Ideas and work session to brainstorm “Big Ideas” for the future of the University, the SPSC brought in Interim President Stellar, the Executive Committee and University deans in another work session on Jan. 20 to begin to explore ideas identified in December and to make early choices about the most promising ideas to pursue. This stage of the process yielded 10 topics for further consideration and strategic development.

While the list may change and develop as the process continues, the initial topics being explored are:

  • Optimize the Experience for 21st Century Learners
  • Faculty Development
  • Program Innovation
  • Research that Matters
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Engaging Locally and Globally
  • Brand, Identity and Image
  • Infrastructure and Culture
  • Infrastructure and Resources
  • Internationalization

The SPSC is committed to implementing a highly collaborative planning process, so members were intrigued when planning consultant Robert Brodnick introduced the “expedition mapping” methodology, which he described as “a collaborative planning activity that helps organizations emerge through turbulent environments with motivated people and positive outcomes.”

Today, Brodnick returns to campus to assist groups working on the 10 topics that begin the expedition mapping process. This initial exploration will look at ways to turn ideas into action through strategic planning, keeping in mind resources and budgets, capacities for growth, and changing conditions.

Ninety-nine faculty and staff from across the University have confirmed their participation in today’s strategy session so far.

For further details on the University’s 2016-17 comprehensive strategic planning process, visit the planning website.

The SPSC is comprised of 14 members of the faculty, Executive Committee and staff under the direction of co-chairs Leanne Wirkkula, Vice President for Planning, Policy and Compliance, and Darrell Wheeler, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.