Since we began Academic Futures: Rethinking the university—the futures of learning and discovery, I have been struck by a constant question from our campus community: “Is this for real?” Some variations of the question are, “Will anything come of this?” and “Will this inform real priorities?”
It’s a natural question in any form, and the answer to all its variations is “yes.” The process we are involved in, the visioning we are asking people to engage in, and the input we are receiving from these efforts are all as “real” as it gets. What they will lead to, I hope, will be a more dynamic and exciting reality for our university in the years to come.
I am acting on another piece of important feedback I have received as a part of this process: the need to give our community the maximum amount of time possible to provide vision and input into the Academic Futures process. I recognize the volume of work that accompanies the onset of the fall semester, so with this in mind, here is our process to facilitate more campus input over a longer time horizon:
- We will continue our schedule of faculty forums and themed campus conversations, as well as departmental input meetings through November into early December. We will post summaries of what each topic yielded in the campus conversations following their conclusion in early December, and these will go to the Academic Futures Committee.
- The Academic Futures Committee will then discuss and review these summaries and the rest of the combined input from the campus (including white papers, emails, notes from town halls, themed discussions, faculty forums and departmental discussions). Throughout the spring, the committee will regularly preview themes likely to appear in the final report with the campus community, seeking further feedback.
- Rather than posting a draft of the report to the campus for review and reaction on March 1, as originally envisioned, we will move that deadline to next fall, Sept. 1, allowing ample time for the committee to digest the volume of input received and to engage in further targeted discussions with the campus.
- During September, the committee will receive responses to the report from the campus and adjust their recommendations if needed.
- On Oct. 1, the report will be delivered to me and to Senior Vice Chancellor and CFO Kelly Fox for our combined consideration.
- The report’s identified priorities will mean that, next year, the collaborative work of finding ways to implement them will begin, with full engagement of faculty, staff and students.
As this process continues, I want to thank all of you who have participated in every aspect of Academic Futures—from the comments and emails to me and via the Academic Futures website, to those of you who have volunteered to serve as listeners and Academic Futures Committee members, to those who have authored white papers.
Your vision and imagination are, in the realest sense imaginable, shaping our future.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs