The University Strategic Planning Initiative (USPI), Boston College’s 18-month effort to set institutional priorities for the future of the University, will continue this semester through a series of meetings, including town hall-style conversations for faculty and staff on Oct. 5.
Last December, the USPI, led by a Steering Committee of faculty, began a period of assessment across the University. Between February and May, 24 teams made up of more than 200 faculty, staff, and students from across the University undertook self-assessments to understand the strengths and weaknesses of BC.
The teams represented each of BC’s eight schools and other academic areas, as well as most vice-presidential administrative divisions, including Student Affairs, Facilities Management, Human Resources, Finance, and Information Technology.
Self-assessment teams also looked at initiatives involving multiple schools, departments, or divisions, including international programs.
The findings so far support the enduring core values expressed in major University documents and initiatives, including a commitment to undergraduate education and the liberal arts, student formation, and integrated research and scholarship.
Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley and Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead, co-chairs of the USPI, said to the office of BC News and Public Affairs that the USPI reaffirmed institutional tenets while adapting to changes in academia and the greater society.
For example, Quigley said BC has long valued research and scholarship, but he sees that integration and collaboration are becoming important across fields and across schools. This can be seen in the pilot courses for the renewed undergraduate core curriculum and the possibility of creating an Institute for Integrated Science and Society.
“Our Jesuit heritage encourages us to engage with the world in a reflective way, but one that leads to wise action for the common good,” Lochhead and Quigley said in an email. “The Institute will be a powerfully tangible statement of our commitment to working across traditional boundaries to respond to these challenges.”
International initiatives are another emerging theme, Lochhead said. While BC has become more globally focused over the past few years, the Steering Committee is exploring ways in which BC can improve these initiatives.
In order to gain additional insight, the Steering Committee also welcomed comments and perspectives from University faculty, staff, and students.
“It was very impressive to see the thoughtful conversations that took place, and the obvious care and interest within the University community for BC’s future direction,” Lochhead said to BC News and Public Affairs.
The Steering Committee looked through the teams’ findings and identified key themes that the University must address in the coming decade.
Once the UPSI ends in March, the Steering Committee will send a strategic plan to the Board of Trustees, outlining a course of action to improve the University and maintain the elements that work in the upcoming decade.
Self-assessment initiatives such as the USPI have been in use for several decades. Each decade, the University begins a new self-assessment period after which it establishes goals for the upcoming 10 years and begins a fundraising campaign. From 2003 to 2007, the University Assessment and Programming Initiative (UAPI) conducted research at BC. Based on those findings, the University launched the Light the World campaign, which raised $1.5 billion.
In addition to the town hall meetings, the Steering Committee will conduct electronic communication and conversations with alumni leadership groups. Beginning in October, students, alumni, parents, and friends will be able to submit feedback on the USPI website. This will ensure that all voices are heard, Lochhead and Quigley said in an email.
At the town hall meeting, the Steering Committee, Lochhead, and Quigley will discuss the progress of the initiative to date and engage in a question-and-answer session with the attendees.
“We know there is great support throughout the campus community for BC’s mission as a world-class university shaped by its Jesuit, Catholic commitments,” Quigley said. “It is our sincere hope that this strategic-planning effort, informed by input and ideas from important stakeholders from across the community, will bear fruit in the form of a plan that enables BC to advance its distinctive mission for the coming decade.”
Featured Image by Margaux Eckert / Senior Heights Staff