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W&M strategic planning effort moves forward

  • Moving forward
    Moving forward  The William & Mary Board of Visitors today approved first phase of the College's ongoing strategic planning process.  Photo by Scott Elmquist
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The William & Mary Board of Visitors today approved first phase of the College's ongoing strategic planning process.

"At the heart of the plan is William & Mary's leadership as a liberal arts university with a powerful commitment to both teaching and research, amid a pervasive sense of community and service," said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. "This plan also recognizes that we must build a new financial foundation adequate to making William & Mary exceptional in the 21st century."

The next step of the planning process will be to develop an implementation plan, including specific actions, timelines, and metrics. The implementation plan for the next five years will be ready in September.

Initial steps of the plan include a comprehensive review of the undergraduate curriculum; expanding annual giving at the College; incorporating and improving technology options and collaborations; increasing housing options to highlight William & Mary as a close-knit, diverse and residential campus community; underscoring the importance of a lifelong William & Mary experience through finding new ways to connect with alumni and friends of the College; significantly increasing research funding over the next decade; looking for entrepreneurial opportunities and more efficient ways to operate to increase revenue and reduce costs; and completing a systematic review of communications and marketing at William & Mary to effectively tell the College story to the world.

Michael K. Powell, Rector of the College, said this ongoing planning process comes at a critical point in William & Mary's history.
 "Given the current state of the economy and shrinking financial resources, it is essential for this plan to provide a basis for setting the College's priorities and guiding our budget discussions," Powell said. "It will guide everything we do and provide an important roadmap for the future. We are in debt to board members Janet Brashear and Jeff Trammell for their leadership in coordinating the board's active engagement in the entire process."

The College's last comprehensive strategic plan was produced in 1994, and it has been updated by various plans for different programs since then. This new, ongoing process will be updated and enhanced regularly.

Early last fall, Reveley established the Planning Steering Committee to research and then recommend a planning framework that would initiate an annual process. Provost P. Geoffrey Feiss and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Jim Golden co-chair the committee. The ongoing process included input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and friends of the College. Members of Board of Visitors devoted the better part of the past three Board meetings evaluating and discussing the plan's progress, and several members served on committees addressing each challenge.

Since September, the steering committee has coordinated numerous discussions with the College community and beyond to gather feedback on William & Mary's priorities, vision and challenges. In December, six grand challenges emerged from the process, the first being that William & Mary should take a leading role in higher education as a model liberal arts university. Other challenges include building and supporting a more fully diverse community; building an ever engaging educational environment that fosters personal development and a lifelong commitment to William & Mary; developing and implementing a financial model that maximizes revenue sources; providing the necessary infrastructure to sustain a 21st century liberal arts university; and implementing a more effective model for internal and external communications. Subcommittees were established to identify major goals and objectives for each challenge area. The steering committee then recommended a series of goals and objectives to the president in March.

"A tremendous amount of work went into this and many members of this college community participated," said William & Mary Provost P. Geoffrey Feiss. "This is a crucial step in this process but we understand this is the first step and now comes the hard work - putting this plan in action."

Added Golden, "Our financial challenges make this process even more important. We must address our major challenges, goals and objectives in a way that allows us to measure our progress and continuously review and refine our plan."