Creating New Possibilities

As we prepare our students for the future, we ask ourselves what challenges await them in this fast changing world of the 21st century.  These challenges include: growing income inequality, aging population, escalating healthcare costs, intensifying geopolitical strife, increasing global competition and climate change.  Helping our students rise to these challenges requires us to make changes, building on our existing strengths while affirming our enduring values. Our strengths are many: a strong sense of community, a strong record in sustainability efforts, a unique sense of place, and the innovative use of information technology for learning and teaching.  Furthermore, we believe in the importance of educating our students to become socially responsible citizens in our increasingly diverse, multicultural society.

To this end, an Academic Plan renewal project was initiated in Fall 2013, which was guided by big questions around student success and achievements in this fast changing world. Organized by the Academic Plan Committee, 61 “Possibility Conversations” were convened, engaging more than 600 participants.  From these conversations, six themes have emerged: (1) Student Lifelong Success, (2) Excellence in Teaching and Learning, (3) Building Community, (4) Faculty Renewal, (5) Staff Renewal, and (6) Administrative Process Improvement.  A seventh theme, “Beyond Categorization,” was created to articulate a number of issues not captured by the six themes but significantly related to the renewal of the Academic Plan.

We are now ready to move from the “Possibility Phase” to the “Action Phase” of the academic renewal project.  In Fall 2014, the Academic Plan Committee will convene Action Conversations to develop concrete action plans to realize the possibilities that emerged from our 61 “Possibility Conversations.”

Once again, to make this project real and meaningful, I am inviting your engagement, which is truly critical to our success.  The outcome of this process will be the 2014-2019 Academic Plan, which will guide our efforts in the years ahead.   Encouraged by what David Bohm once said, "Everything starts with you and me," I eagerly look forward to your participation as we create our future together.

Provost Belle W. Y. Wei