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Baylor University

Pro Futuris

A Strategic Vision for Baylor University

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The Planning Process

The selection of Kenneth Winston Starr as Baylor’s 14th president coincided with the latter days of Baylor 2012. Shortly after he took office in July 2010, the regents and senior administration reviewed the University’s foundational assumptions, core convictions, unifying academic themes, and mission statement and determined that these commitments should continue to guide the institution through its next strategic vision. In addition, Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Davis was charged with leading a deliberately open and participatory planning process that would actively engage the University’s multiple constituencies, and result in the production of a new strategic vision to take effect June 1, 2012.

In November 2010 the University issued “Envisioning our Future,” a document to prompt reflection as well as to set the stage for community input to inform the development of the new strategic vision. The period for community input extended from December 2010 through April 2011. Three primary forms of input resulted:

  • 165 Group Input reports were submitted following on-campus discussions within existing organizational structures (e.g., academic departments, schools, administrative units, and student organizations) as well as in multi-disciplinary groups.
  • A total of 17 Community Input Sessions were held across the country. Eleven of the sessions were held in Texas, with others in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Nashville, and Marietta, GA. In total, more than 700 individuals participated in these sessions, the vast majority Baylor alumni, but also parents of currently enrolled students and other interested parties.
  • Individual input submissions were provided electronically by approximately 300 unique respondents. Many were members of more than one constituent group, but more than half identified themselves as Baylor alumni.

Provost Davis appointed a Strategic Themes Committee (STC) to study, analyze, and synthesize all of the input received during the Community Input period of the strategic planning process. This 23-member committee, drawn from the University’s faculty, staff, and students, was chaired by Mitchell J. Neubert, the Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business in the Hankamer School of Business. The STC commenced its work in January 2011. The committee inductively developed criteria for sorting and grouping the information and eventually adopted a framework of 12 themes by which to code/categorize the input data. Each piece of input was read more than once by more than one person. The culmination of these efforts led to the production in June 2011 of the Strategic Input Report (SIR) that distilled thousands of pages of data, capturing both the areas about which there was significant consensus (which were many) as well as fairly recording differing viewpoints, telling both sides of the story.

The SIR highlighted multiple areas of convergence, including:

  • The conviction that steadfastly holding on to Baylor’s Christian identity was both foundational and a critical differentiator;
  • A broad-based commitment to the importance of teaching excellence; and
  • The importance of strengthening connections within the Baylor family and between the Baylor family and the community.

The areas of divergence included:

  • The ideal emphasis to be placed on research in light of institutional commitments to teaching and faith;
  • The specific areas of focus or programs that would offer the greatest potential for success and impact; and
  • How best to balance inclusiveness with intentionality in affirming Baylor’s uniqueness.

Beginning in July 2011, the Regents and the Executive Council, with assistance from the Academic Deans and Vice Provosts, deliberated the findings from the SIR and began crafting a draft of Pro Futuris. The SIR was invaluable in confirming that Baylor’s new strategic vision should not seek to alter the trajectory set by Baylor 2012, but should reinforce the commitments already established, while also articulating a renewed set of strategic aspirational statements to guide ongoing institutional decision-making during the decade ahead. The intent was to craft aspirational statements of ends rather than means in order that Pro Futuris would provide ample guidance for future decision-making without attempting to dictate a decade’s worth of specific actions.

The draft of Pro Futuris was released in December 2011. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others interested in Baylor’s future were invited to continue their active participation in the vision’s development by responding to a series of questions designed to provide targeted feedback on how the draft vision could be improved. Feedback on the draft of Pro Futuris was accepted through March 2012. Drawing primarily from members of the STC, Provost Davis charged a Feedback Review Working Group to examine all feedback submitted and share their findings with her for consideration by the Executive Council and Regents.

Final revisions to Pro Futuris were incorporated during April 2012, and the vision was adopted by the Board of Regents on May 11, 2012.