In 2002, the George Washington University adopted a strategic plan that envisioned two key pillars for GW’s development.
The plan placed particular departments at the core of the University’s priorities and called for investments in its infrastructure. It was an important milestone in the development of the University.
But strategic planning is a dynamic process, and now, as the University approaches its bicentennial birthday in 2021, it is time to assess its needs and potential opportunities.
It is now time for to provide GW with a signature identity. Surely, university excellence requires individual units, faculty and students who achieve national recognition but top universities also need a common thread that unifies the strengths of the institution.
The University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University did not achieve their international accolades because of a few top-ranked departments. Rather, the University of Chicago’s focus on critical thought, MIT’s reputation for providing a first-class education in science and engineering and Stanford’s focus on entrepreneurship resulted in these schools' success and worldwide prominence.
As members of the strategic planning steering committee, we reviewed discussions that have occurred, and identified four themes to orient the strategic plan: globalization, policy and governance, innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration and citizenship and leadership.
We believe the development of a strong strategic plan requires several central elements.
Good planning requires us to make bold choices. Timid plans based on short-term goals, protection of the status quo or political expediency rarely accomplish much. A strategic plan cannot be a laundry list of everything we can or should be doing.
The development of a sound plan depends on recognizing what the future holds. We need to think prospectively about the nature of demographic changes underway, the evolving nature of career options for our graduates and the ever-changing educational and technological demands that must be met in order to compete in a global economy.
Strategic planning requires a commitment to improving our strengths. As the planning process moves forward, we will want to capitalize on our most highly respected programs, our connections within the D.C. community, the University’s commitment to service, our global reputation and our world-class research facilities.
Most importantly, strategic planning requires the involvement of the community. Toward this end, we have hosted a number of public events and developed a website to reach out to members of the community interested in the strategic planning process.
Within each of the four themes identified for the strategic plan, we seek to increase GW faculty’s research contributions, improve the educational experience for GW students and enhance the University’s reputation. We welcome your ideas.
The writers are: the Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment Cheryl Beil, the GW School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie, the University Provost Steve Lerman, the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman, the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed, and Professor Scheherazade Rehman in the Elliott School of International Affairs, the Department of Anthropology Chair Brian Richmond and the Department of Health Policy Chair Sara Rosenbaum, respectively.