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Seattle University


Excellence, Purpose, Impact

Written by Mike Thee
June 19, 2013

If you're looking for a concise road map for where the university is intended to go in the next five years, be sure to check out Excellence, Purpose, Impact, a recently produced brochure that summarizes the university's Strategic Plan for 2013-2018. (A link to the full text version of the plan is also available at the site for those who favor the longer form.)

Officially titled "Strategic Plan 2013-2018: Fulfilling Our Mission in a Changing World," the plan was developed by the Strategic Planning Council with significant stakeholder feedback and approved by the Board of Trustees in February.

"I would encourage everyone to read the plan," says Jackie Helfgott, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and co-chair of the Strategic Planning Council. "A lot of things go out and people say, 'Oh, it's just on paper; it doesn't mean anything,' but being involved in this process and knowing how much people really put into this and care about these goals and initiatives. This plan allows us to be really clear about where we're going."

What's in the plan?

The plan has four goals, including (1) strengthening our capacity to provide a high-quality and transformational education rooted in the Jesuit tradition; (2) preparing our graduates to lead meaningful and successful lives; (3) meeting the challenges and opportunities of the changing educational and economic environment; and (4) realizing an infrastructure that supports excellence and innovation in all facets of our education.

Each goal is supported by a number of initiatives that call for new or increased investments in a number of areas such as teaching and research; the Seattle University Youth Initiative; the university's Jesuit, Catholic character; professional and career development for students; educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as health sciences; technology, including online and hybrid learning; financial aid for students; and facilities and infrastructure.

What's next?

Some of the initiatives called out in the Strategic Plan are already underway with investments being made in areas such as technology, both in infrastructure and online/hybrid learning. The significantly increased support for student financial aid in the FY14 is another example of alignment between budgeting and the strategic plan.

Other initiatives will be supported as resources are available. "The university over the next five years will endeavor to accomplish as much of this plan as is possible," says Bob Dullea, vice president for university planning, vice provost and co-chair of the Strategic Planning Council. "That doesn't mean that everything will be done to the fullest extent of what was envisioned in the plan. On the other hand there ought not to be any initiative that doesn't get some response, attention or implementation work done."

How will we pay for it?

Chief Financial Officer Connie Kanter has taken the lead in developing a plan for how these initiatives will be funded. This financial plan focuses on those strategic planning initiatives that are most challenging to fund, says Bob Dullea, vice president for university planning, vice provost and co-chair of the Strategic Planning Council.

"There are elements of the plan that are either potentially very expensive, financially complex or both, so in order to effectively implement those parts of the plan there needs to be some careful thinking done about how the funding can be identified," says Dullea. "That's a combination of looking at our operating budgets, considering the capital funding that's available and looking toward the upcoming campaign.

"The work that's gone particularly into financial planning is really important for the successful implementation of the initiatives that have been outlined in the strategic plan. Connie has done a great job taking the lead in that."

Anything else?

"I'm really appreciative of how different parts of the university have been reaching out and figuring out how they can help make the plan be effectively implemented," says Dullea.

Helfgott says: "I hope the strategic plan will guide everyone in their decision-making and allow us all to get on the same page as we launch forward."