Strategic Planning Council Consensus: “We’re 90% There”

Blog Preview Image

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla addresses a Strategic Plan town hall meeting.

The March 2013 Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Council meeting focused on UC San Diego’s Statement of Mission and Values, a planning framework that incorporates a wide range of stakeholder input. The campus leaders expressed support for the statement’s clarity and precision in setting future priorities for UC San Diego, and concurred with the importance of “measures of success” as a key component of the blueprint for the future. They agreed with Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla that it represents “a 90-percent convergence” of the planning process to date, and they said they will begin integrating its precepts in charting the future of their units.

The Council advised the Chancellor that UC San Diego should adopt institution-wide strategies going forward which focus more intently on:

  • Developing and rewarding teaching excellence, with an emphasis on research-centered pedagogy that would capitalize on the intellectual distinction of the campus.
  • Ensuring student success through mentoring that is more tailored, course loads that are more manageable, and career counseling that is more pro-active and pragmatic.
  • Raising incentives for and lower barriers to interdisciplinary ventures that unite top innovators from across campus to pursue high-impact issues and emerging fields.
  • Improving the quality of administrative services by “getting past ‘No’ ” with a new campus culture that encourages risk-taking and entrepreneurial thinking and is “enabling” to complete tasks and launch new initiatives.

More specifically, the Council offered recommendations for the university’s education and research mission areas:

Preserving and Strengthening Academic Excellence:

  • Strengthen procedures for recruiting and retaining faculty and graduate students, even in an era of shrinking resources, by expediting offers.
  • Recruitment and retention packages could be augmented with “in kind” incentives offered by private universities, e.g., tuition support for the children of faculty.
  • “Sunset reviews” of organized research units should be timely and vigorous, and their findings should be implemented definitively.
  • Joint appointments should be packaged with greater skill and efficiency; evaluations of faculty in those posts should primarily assess their cross-disciplinary work.
  • Endowed professorships could be funded with a mix of public and private money.  As federal and state budgets decline, donations from corporations and foundations should be pursued more aggressively.
  • UC campuses differ widely in their interpretations of Committee on Academic Personnel (CAP) policies. UC San Diego should study how our peer campuses approach CAP issues with an eye toward adopting best practices.

Delivering a Distinctive Student-Centered Educational Experience:

  • Shortening the time-to-graduation rates of both undergraduate and graduate students must be a top institutional priority; this could be achieved by offering more flexible course work during summers and holiday breaks.
  • Departments should take greater responsibility for anticipating and preventing student drop-outs.
  • Non-FTE instructors who are outstanding teachers could help raise the quality of the educational experience, but the campus must be attentive to compensation and quality of life issues.
  • The exploration of online learning tools should be part of a more comprehensive overhaul of curricular practices and a re-examination of course content and delivery.  That effort should focus on using pedagogical technology for basic instruction and giving faculty more time for “problem-solving” interactive education.
  • Lengthen and augment orientation of new students; ask upper-division students to identify hurdles in their early years and “secrets to success” learned experientially.
  • Special courses for upper-division students taught by top faculty researchers would help immerse students in UC San Diego’s high-caliber research environment. Those alumni would likely become high achievers and persuasive campus ambassadors.

As a next step in the strategic planning process, the Council will discuss the formation of overarching initiatives and corresponding working groups.

At the conclusion of the session, Chancellor Khosla thanked the Council for its diligence and dedication, and he reiterated the planning initiative’s core value of achieving diversity.  “We are all responsible for the climate of this campus,” he said, “and we want to make sure people understand that we care about equity and inclusion. It’s a long journey, but we have reaffirmed our commitment to get on the right track.”