Virginia Tech is leveraging its greatest strength to develop its next strategic plan to advance the university Beyond Boundaries: its people.

The Office for Strategic Affairs has spent the better part of the past year actively engaging and collaborating with faculty, staff and students across Virginia Tech campus locations on priorities for Virginia Tech’s next strategic plan. These priorities, identified and developed through feedback from the university community, alumni and additional stakeholders, seek to guide Virginia Tech in its next steps toward achieving its long-term Beyond Boundaries vision.

“The strategic planning process has engaged the university and campus community extensively, seeking ideas and feedback throughout the process to help inform goals for a sustainable Virginia Tech committed to Ut Prosim,” said Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for diversity, inclusion, and strategic affairs.

Pratt-Clarke and her team say a cohesive strategic planning process can provide the necessary framework and methodology for effective change management. The framework is intended to provide a university-level guide for effective leadership and a continuous strategic planning process that enables colleges, institutes, offices, departments, and programs to ensure that their priorities are aligned with the institution’s priorities and goals.

Since spring of 2018, the Office for Strategic Affairs has engaged with dozens of campus units, commissions, committees, associations, and alumni groups to share drafts of revised vision and mission statements, core university values, and strategic objectives in order to gather and incorporate feedback from the campus community. The office also solicited detailed feedback focused on each strategic objective and led numerous round table sessions throughout the late spring and early summer of last year.

“Through this process, we facilitated round-table sessions and engagement discussions with over 250 experts who offered valuable input and feedback on key areas of importance for strategic priorities,” said Erin McCann, director for strategic planning.

“Based on their feedback and that of President (Tim) Sands and Provost (Cyril) Clarke, the strategic planning leadership team and strategic planning committee members reconnected with the broader campus community in late summer and early fall to share updates on the strategic planning process to date and hear feedback on key priorities, opportunities for differentiation, and the Ut Prosim difference – a unique differentiator for Virginia Tech that recognizes the integral connection between service to humanity, diversity, and the land-grant mission,” said Pratt-Clarke.

Following these highly productive and engaging discussions, the Office for Strategic Affairs organized a second tier of discussions composed of several open campus conversations with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. In addition, the office organized dozens of focused discussion sessions with institute directors, research faculty, and other campus staff.

Nearly 40 different units and departments within the institutes and academic colleges and hundreds of stakeholders have met with the strategic planning leadership team throughout this process.

Discussions on the strategic planning process were not limited to the Blacksburg campus. Sessions took place across several campus locations, including colleges, institutes, and offices in Roanoke, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church, and involved faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external advisory boards across the commonwealth.

“As the strategic planning leadership team met throughout the summer and fall with colleges, institutes, and units across campus and at our distributed sites throughout the commonwealth, common themes emerged, which were documented and shared as part of ongoing feedback sessions,” Pratt-Clarke said. “As a result, these documents were quite iterative and were representative of our comprehensive campus community and were updated on a continual basis to reflect feedback from all our stakeholders.”

Through the data gathered from discussions with the Virginia Tech community, white papers were developed to inform stakeholders on such issues as the design and use of metrics, including factors for good metrics and key characteristics of quality data, measures for inclusion and diversity, and the challenges and barriers to obtaining sensitive and meaningful data, and metrics related to global rankings.

Pratt-Clarke and her team have continued to share updates and the overall progress of the strategic planning process with the campus community as well as Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors and off-campus constituents.

Building upon the feedback received, Pratt-Clarke said the strategic planning committees are continuing to move the process forward and have made significant progress in developing a methodology for good metrics, refining the vision and mission, and developing draft goals based on key areas of focus from campus conversations. The strategic planning framework is intended to be approved by the Board of Visitors in June 2019.

“Once approved, the strategic planning leadership team will collaborate further with colleges, institutes, offices, and groups across campus through the continuous planning process,” said McCann. “This will include the implementation of the strategic planning framework, partnership in the development of college and unit-level strategic plans, and facilitation of a process to identify and explore new and ongoing opportunities.”

Members of the Virginia Tech community are encouraged to continue their participation in the strategic planning process and offer their ongoing feedback. Progress and updates can be viewed on the Office of Strategic Affairs website.