The Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Council set the stage at its April meeting for an early summer rollout of UC San Diego’s first-ever blueprint for future growth. Members conveyed feedback from campus units on a Statement of Mission and Values, and they appraised initiatives to foster educational quality, faculty excellence, research-fueled innovation in emerging fields, equity and diversity, and public engagement.
Feedback from Campus Units: The success of the strategic plan will hinge on its implementation by departments, programs, and other units. Many, if not most, are developing their own strategic plans, and some of those plans involve coordination across divisions. Council members reported unit responses to the Mission and Values framework that included:
- The campus-wide planning effort is generally hailed as highly valuable and long overdue. Unit discussions have included development of specific actions with tangible outcomes that reflect campus mission and values .
- The emphasis on improving undergraduate education and the student experience is generating excitement, in large part because it aligns with the priorities of many units.
During the meeting, Council members worked in teams to generate insights and recommendations for key components of the strategic plan, which will be drafted by early May:
- Freshman and transfer students need more guidance in exploring co-curricular opportunities for leadership and skills development. This could include extending orientation activities and profiling 3rd- and 4th-year students who have benefited from co-curricular achievement.
- Students who participate in faculty-led research and intellectual ventures are better equipped to discover the passions and aptitudes that will direct their post-graduation career paths.
- A gap exists between print-based learning favored by faculty and digital learning preferred by students. Our efforts in the coming years must accommodate ever-changing teaching and learning technologies.
- A similar mismatch occurs when information gathering takes precedence over information application and when individual attainment is prized over team success.
- Streamlined faculty hiring will boost recruitment outcomes, and greater salary equity between new and current faculty will improve retention rates. These have become increasingly costly issues as private and overseas universities more aggressively court stellar faculty.
- Faculty who are early adopters of best practices in pedagogy and mentoring should be identified and rewarded.
- As faculty are asked to devote more time to mentoring students and building diversity, they will face difficult choices about time spent on departmental responsibilities, committee service, and other administrative functions.
- Online instruction could reduce teaching loads, especially in introductory courses. But such instruction, if done right, can be expensive to design and implement.
Innovation in Emerging Fields:
- UC San Diego has historically been an “innovation ecosystem” that exerts global leadership and transformative regional impact. To build on that tradition, the campus should launch interdisciplinary ventures in two emerging fields where it already enjoys a competitive advantage: health and wellness, with a particular focus on brain mapping, and “big data” analysis and management.
- Future enterprise “thrusts” should be plotted using a well-defined matrix that covers motivation and purpose, required investment, stakeholder vetting, projected impact, timelines and milestones, and metrics of success.
- While interdisciplinary prowess is a UC San Diego mark of distinction that will drive future advancement, we must equally value excellence and collaboration within disciplines.
Equity and Diversity:
- The new administration’s public and pronounced commitment to diversity represents a sea change for UC San Diego, both in terms of strengthening the campus community and improving relations with external constituents.
- Diversity must be recognized as an opportunity that adds value to educational and scholarly enterprises and not just as an obligation that must be met.
- Some campus units have achieved diversity through bold and concerted effort. Those efforts should be studied and replicated.
- Patient care plays a dominant role in the university’s fulfillment of its public service mission. Free medical clinics for underserved populations should be widely promoted. The quality of the patient experience should be an institutional priority. And campus employees should be incentivized to enroll in their own university’s health care system.
- Launching new master’s degree programs tailored for the region’s innovation-based workforce can enhance community engagement and boost campus revenues.
While collaboration with La Jolla-based institutes will always be fruitful, the campus should extend its geographic reach by forging new partnerships with peer institutions and government agencies throughout the nation and around the globe.