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* Speech: President Córdova outlines Purdue's new strategic plan

June 20, 2008

Purdue trustees approve 'New Synergies' strategic plan

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue board of trustees on Friday (June 20) adopted a six-year strategic plan to position the university to meet the challenges facing humanity, grow and create opportunities for Indiana and the global economy, and enhance student learning for success in a changing world.

"Throughout the years, Purdue has improved the quality of life within Indiana, the nation and the world through its high-quality programs," said board chairman J. Timothy McGinley. "This transformative process will continue with the 'New Synergies' strategic plan."

Purdue President France A. Córdova said, "The concept of synergy, or connections, is the hallmark of the 2008-14 strategic plan. Our students, faculty and staff face a present and a future in which the problems they attempt to solve and the subjects they investigate are global in scope and require knowledge, expertise and commitment from all disciplines. The challenges we face require not only technical solutions from the sciences and engineering but also the social awareness and cultural competencies fostered in the liberal arts.

"Through its new strategic plan, Purdue will set the pace for interdisciplinary synergies that serve citizens of Indiana, the nation and the world with profound scientific, technological, social and humanitarian impact on advancing societal prosperity and quality of life."

The development of the strategic plan began in fall 2007. Working groups composed of faculty, staff, students, community members and Purdue retirees focused on eight key areas: student success and the student experience, large-scale research and its infrastructure, economic development, quality of life in the workplace, globalization, campus design, synergies among the disciplines, and attracting students to careers in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Each working group sought input through electronic media, public forums, focus groups and interviews.

"When I envisioned the process to draft Purdue's next strategic plan, I wanted to ensure that its foundation would be constructed with input from all constituents, both within and external to Purdue," said Córdova, who became Purdue's 11th president in July 2007. "I believe that our faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members understand our strengths and can best identify our opportunities for improvement. The 'New Synergies' strategic plan is not the administration's plan. It is the entire university community's plan, made possible by the hard work and input of our many stakeholders."

Three major goals form the plan's foundation:

* Launching tomorrow's leaders by enhancing student success with careers in a dynamic global society, as well as fostering intellectual, professional and personal development for lifelong learning.

* Promoting discovery with delivery by conducting field-defining research with breakthrough outcomes and catalyzing research-based economic development and entrepreneurship.

* Meeting global challenges by enhancing Purdue's presence and impact in addressing grand challenges of humanity.

"Achieving this exciting new vision for Purdue will require setting key priorities that emphasize our commitment to attracting the best talent, increasing diversity and inclusiveness, and enhancing the quality of our academic programs and student services across the entire university community," Provost William R. "Randy" Woodson said.

Key priority areas are student success, faculty/staff development and work-life, research competitiveness, economic development and entrepreneurship, national/global presence, and campus design.

Among the objectives for fulfilling these priorities are:

* Increasing recruitment of excellent students and providing honors and other accelerated learning programs for the best students.

* Developing a plan to ensure increased diversity of the student body.

* Marketing Purdue's advantage for recruiting STEM students.

* Improving student retention and graduation rates.

* Developing universitywide core curriculum.

* Pursuing funding for increased financial aid and scholarships (need and merit).

* Promoting faculty for significant national awards and honors.

* Implementing staff development programs and a campuswide system for staff promotion.

* Achieving competitive compensation for faculty and staff.

* Increasing senior research leadership, especially in identified strategic areas.

* Increasing strategic research alliances and partnerships.

* Aggressively seeking large-scale corporate and federal sponsorship.

* Attracting more faculty onto the "Discovery, Development, Delivery" highway with incentives, support for infrastructure and stronger ties to research parks.

* Promoting more robust infrastructure/cyberinfrastructure and core instrumentation facilities to serve campus research goals and projects.

* Raising the rankings of all Purdue colleges to new levels.

* Establishing signature programs abroad; become national role model for global partnerships with impact.

* Establishing an institute for policy and global affairs.

* Embracing Purdue alumni worldwide in assisting with recruiting, mentoring, sponsoring students, sharing best practices with administrators and faculty, and building and extending partnerships globally.

* Partnering with regional communities on quality of life issues (arts, culture, environment).

* Enhancing facility repair and rehabilitation, aesthetics, and functionality of the campus.

* Incorporating sustainability and environmental/ecological consciousness.

* Implementing a new campus master plan in concert with campus and local communities.

A funding strategy is being developed to implement the "New Synergies" plan. Sources for new or increased funding include state appropriations, student tuition and fees, sponsored programs, private giving funds, and auxiliary enterprise revenues. In addition, reallocation of existing funds will augment these funds.

"Funding requirements for the key priorities will be assessed and refined annually, and specific allocations will be clearly shown in the university's budget plans each year," said Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president and treasurer.

Purdue also will examine the return on these investments through the metrics and benchmarks established by the plan. The metrics will monitor the plan's progress within the university, and the benchmarks will assess progress and competitiveness compared with peer institutions.

Purdue will compare itself with two sets of peer institutions: the public Big Ten institutions and a group of public aspirational peers. Thirteen institutions are included: Indiana University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University-University Park, University of Illinois-Urbana, University of Iowa, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis/St. Paul, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University-College Station, University of California-Berkeley and University of Texas-Austin.

"A comprehensive assessment of progress on the strategic plan, its metrics and benchmarks, and funding allocations will be conducted every year," said Rab Mukerjea, director of strategic planning and assessment. "These assessments are critical to the success of the strategic plan and demonstrate Purdue's commitment to accountability."

Purdue will use input and output benchmark measures as part of its annual strategic plan assessment.

Input measures include: 

* Entering students' test scores, high school GPA and rank.

* Student admission/yield for enrollment.

* Student-to-faculty ratio.

* Undergraduate class/section size.

* Student financial aid.

* Revenues and expenditures per student.

Examples of output measures are:

* National and international rankings.

* Undergraduate retention and graduation rates.

* Undergraduate indebtedness upon graduation.

* Sponsored program awards and expenditures.

* Demography of underrepresented populations.

* Licenses and patents for technology commercialization and startup companies per year.

Annual progress reports will be presented to the trustees and will be made available to campus constituencies, state, national and international audiences, and the public.

Implementation of "New Synergies" will begin immediately. Annual action plans will be crafted to carry out specific initiatives, and the implementation will engage faculty, staff, students and other constituents.

"Purdue's overall aspiration is to be among the top-ranked research universities in the world," Córdova said. "This means that all units, both academic and administrative, will be aggressively engaged in quality improvements to rise to a significantly higher level."

Each college and school, as well as other academic and non-academic units, will develop a strategic plan using "New Synergies" as an overall framework. The plans will delineate strategies to improve national and international competitiveness.

Purdue's regional campuses are drafting strategic plans to present to the board for action at its September meeting.

"Purdue made great strides with its last strategic plan," Córdova said. "The research enterprise expanded, engagement activities were elevated increasing Purdue's visibility and reputation, and student quality improved.

"Now, we will build upon this foundation to achieve a leadership position in the world. Together with the board of trustees and the breadth of Purdue's constituents, the entire Purdue community will strive to achieve its energizing vision of new synergies."

The 2008-14 strategic plan is available online at

Writer: Valerie O’Brien, (765) 494-9573,

Sources: France A. Córdova, (765) 494-9708,

William R. "Randy" Woodson, (765) 494-9709,

Rab Mukerjea, (765) 494-9708,

Morgan R. Olsen, (765) 494-9705,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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