Developing Our Strengths: The Fruits of Baylor's Strategic Planning

November 6, 2007
By Randy Fiedler

The ambitious strategic planning process set into motion last year by Baylor President John M. Lilley is bearing its first fruit.

Of the 59 proposals submitted earlier this year as part of Baylor's strategic planning process, nine have been selected for immediate funding and the other 50 are scheduled either for future fundraising initiatives or further study. These initiatives will enhance academic offerings, expand campus facilities and move the University closer to full achievement of the goals of Baylor 2012.

Baylor's current strategic planning model has its roots in Dr. Lilley's desire for the University to make its long-range planning more intentional by sharpening the focus.
"Long-range planning provides us with a working blueprint for the kind of university we want to pass on to future generations," he said. "We should leave this place better than we found it, by making sure we spend our resources on achievements that will advance the Baylor mission long after we're gone."
Dr. Lilley said a comprehensive strategic planning process offers at least two significant advantages, the first being the ability to attract a wealth of good ideas.
"I've often said that no one person or group has a monopoly on wisdom," he said. "Strategic planning allows everyone -- faculty, administrators, staff and students -- to have a place at the table where new ideas that can strengthen Baylor are discussed. It's a good way to make sure that the best ideas from the broadest base of the Baylor family are heard."
A second advantage strategic planning offers is encouraging what Dr. Lilley calls a "thinking big" approach to imagining Baylor's future.
"Fully achieving the goals of Baylor 2012, especially increasing our endowment to $2 billion, is not going to happen by thinking small," Dr. Lilley said. "Big donations are inspired by big dreams."

Methodical study

Dr. Lilley first outlined the strategic planning process during the fall faculty-staff meeting in September 2006. Faculty and staff had three months to create and submit proposals to deans and vice presidents for review by the Dec. 15 deadline.
Following review by deans and vice presidents, the 59 submitted proposals went through a budget review to make sure all funding estimates were sound.
Facilitating strategic planning falls under the direction of Dr. Larry Lyon, vice provost of institutional effectiveness and dean of the Graduate School. Beginning in March 2007, the proposals were reviewed by the University Strategic Planning Council (USPC), consisting of Baylor faculty, staff and students and chaired by Dr. J. Randall O'Brien, executive vice president and provost. The USPC evaluated each proposal using 11 criteria (see chart at end of story) and gave the authors an opportunity to answer questions about specific details.
In May 2007, the USPC presented recommendations and ratings on the proposals to the President's Executive Council. The proposals were diverse, and a few had overlapping areas of focus.
"Three of the proposals addressed broad-based University issues such as scholarships. The establishing of two new schools was proposed, and additional proposals suggested new doctoral or masters degree programs," Dr. Lilley said. "Eleven proposals described new centers or institutes for everything from the philosophy of religion to student involvement in the community. Nineteen departments proposed major enhancements in academic programs, and some 17 proposals addressed opportunities related to our physical plant."

Immediate proposals

Of the 59 proposals submitted, nine were selected for immediate implementation. The first group of proposals is diverse in nature, dealing with instruction, research and faculty training. They will be paid for out of the operating budget.
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