Developing a New Model for the Professional University of the 21st Century Goal of Strategic Planning Process

“The Mission Statement is the cornerstone of Philadelphia University’s future,” states Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D., president.  “For us, it is more than a statement; it is a promise that we must live every day and diligently fulfill at the highest level.” 

121707story_stratplan.jpgKeeping that promise is the impetus behind the Strategic Planning Process, which kicked off in October.  “The overarching goal is to create a plan that will help us become a model for the professional university in the 21st century—one that is connected and made more effective by the liberal arts,” stated Dr. Spinelli in the President’s Message on the Strategic Planning Process web site, www.PhilaU.edu/StrategicPlanning.  “It is an ambitious, almost audacious goal; and I am excited by the possibilities.”  Our Mission Statement clearly defines the charge to the University community:

Philadelphia University is a student-centered institution that prepares graduates for successful careers in an evolving global marketplace.  By blending the liberal arts and sciences, professional studies, interdisciplinary learning, and collaborations in and out of the classroom, students learn to thrive in diverse and challenging environments.  Our students are encouraged to form supportive relationships with each other as well as faculty, staff, and alumni in an academically rigorous setting that is focused on intellectual and personal growth.  Philadelphia University is an experiential learning community where integrity, creativity, curiosity, ethics, responsibility and the free exchange of ideas are valued.

Meeting the charge is what drove the process for planning that would be welcoming and accessible to all members of the University community.  “We are taking a holistic approach to bringing together interested parties with a stake in our success,” continued President Spinelli.  “We must think in bigger, more aspirational terms.”  The core of the process engages the community, both internal and external.  The three primary planning committees are Academic Excellence, Excellence in Student Life, and Alumni and Community Engagement.  Special subcommittees of the planning committees have been formed.  These subcommittees will explore the themes and initiatives that will enhance the impact of the university.  It is through the committees and subcommittees that the most important work of planning will take place.  “The members of the University community have a real opportunity to help set the agenda and to influence the future direction of Philadelphia University,” said Dr. Spinelli.

The chairs of the three planning committees will report to an Executive Committee.  The role of the Executive Committee is to coordinate efforts among committees and bring together the individual committee work into one strategic document.  All information will be reviewed by the President’s Council, and, finally presented to the Board of Trustees.  Officially, the process got underway Oct. 12, 2007, and will culminate by Aug. 29, 2008.

“Developing the model for the professional university of the 21st century is our overarching goal,” notes President Spinelli.  “At this early stage, committee members are truly ‘blueskying’ it.  That is, they are looking at all options. They have complete license to explore ideas that are out-of-the-box.  That’s where innovation comes from.”

According to Dr. Spinelli, designing a successful plan, one that is purposeful and innovative, is imperative.  He encourages everyone to visit the Strategic Planning web site to receive information and interact with the process online.  “Use the web site and, most important, add your voice to the plan.  Reach out to the committee members or send your comments and thoughts to strategicplanning@PhilaU.edu.  Use the ‘Get Involved’ link on the web site to submit an idea or question,” he stresses.  “Our Strategic Plan will be the litmus test by which decisions are made.  Moreover, it is through full participation both in the planning and implementation phases that will move us to the next level.” 

Photo: President Spinelli discusses Philadelphia University’s Strategic Planning Process at a meeting with faculty and staff members Oct. 12.

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