Knapp prepares for strategic plan

University President Steven Knapp emphasized the year-long development of a strategic plan as an outline for GW’s academic and financial future in an annual gathering of faculty Tuesday.

Knapp, who is in his fifth year as president, looked toward two upcoming milestones – the 100th anniversary of GW’s presence on Foggy Bottom in 2012 and the bicentennial of the University in 2021 – as markers of a “decade of transformation” for the University.

In this “pivotal year,” Knapp said the leadership of the University will step back and engage in a serious strategic planning exercise to create a new academic blueprint for the University – a process that will occur in tandem with the development of a broad fundraising strategy and a rebranding campaign.

Since the current strategic plan was written in 2002, all 10 deans of the University and all but two of the seven vice presidents have turned over.

“We’re building across the University. We have an opportunity to do that because we are bringing in resources in a way that we never have before in the history of the University,” Knapp said, citing the collection of a record-breaking $113.5 million in fiscal year 2011.

The fundraising plan headed by Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Michael Morsberger will aim to match academic priorities that emerge from the strategic planning process with the appropriate resources, while the communications plan spearheaded by Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles will streamline the University’s visual message.

Knapp also highlighted recent developments stemming from last year’s task forces on diversity and inclusion, career services and the athletics department.

In restructuring the Office of the Provost this past summer, Provost Steven Lerman sought to foster a more efficient structure for faculty and student support.

Lerman will devote his second year at the University to leading the development of a new strategic plan defining broad institutional goals for the next decade. The current strategic plan pinpointed enhancing academic excellence, raising the University’s ranking and strengthening GW’s infrastructure as three overarching goals for the institution.

“We’re trying to strive for the type of strategic plan that speaks to the specifics of our University, that reflects its unique location, history, identity, what it’s good at,” Lerman said. “We’re also of course trying to build a strategic plan that helps guide action, that helps tell us where we want to make investments.”

The process of writing the plan will include input from faculty working groups that report back to a central steering committee, which will ultimately draft the plan along with the Office of External Affairs under the provost’s direction.

“I don’t want to put a stake in the ground and say ‘these are my priorities, now let’s build a plan around them.’ I want to participate in a process that helps create those priorities,” he said.

At the meeting, Lerman also recognized the six recipients of this year’s Bender Teaching Award, including assistant professor of chemistry Cynthia Dowd, professor of chemistry Houston Miller, assistant professor of nursing Kimberly Acquaviva, assistant professor of English Holly Dugan, adjunct international affairs professor Michele Clark and professor of clinical management and leadership Ozgur Ekmekci. The award honors educators for high-quality teaching and for their work toward faculty development.

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