25, No. 5, Sept. 1, 2005
Campus does homework preparing for
new strategic plan
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
“If The New
York Times published an article about our campus 10 years from now,
what would you want it to say?”
That’s the kind of question that UI officials hope will guide
them in formulating a strategic plan for the campus and its colleges,
departments and other units and be a guiding force in the years to come.
Faced with increasing competition for the best students, faculty and
staff members and other resources, campus officials are looking for
innovative strategies that will enable the campus to flourish in a changing
environment. These challenges are facing university administrators as
well, and they, too, are building strategies to respond.
After Richard Herman was named chancellor of the Urbana campus on April
19, he began articulating his vision of national pre-eminence and creating
a strategic plan to achieve it, and at a Summit on Strategic Leadership
for key administrators in March, President Joe White kicked off a strategic
planning process that is intended to create a vision for the university’s
future, enabling it to capitalize on its strengths and to position itself
to surpass its competitors.
White said that
creating a universitywide strategic plan is a three-stage process: development
of an overall planning framework, development of strategic plans for
each of the three campuses and related organizations, and development
of strategic plans for schools, colleges and major administrative units.
goals and thrusts for the University of Illinois
The UI will achieve and be recognized for both academic
excellence and extraordinary education and development
of its students.
2. The UI will be the recognized higher education
leader in innovation, quality and service.
3. The priorities of the UI will reflect the most
urgent needs of the state, its communities and the
4. The UI will have the resources (people, money
and facilities) required for excellence.
introduced four strategic goals and thrusts that will provide the basis
of the strategic planning process for the university and its units.
A key component of the university and campus strategy development is
analyzing the “marketplace,” – the academic and research
arenas in which the university and campus compete; analyzing their strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and analyzing their competitors
and the campus’s position relative to the competition.
As part of the market research, UI officials are finding out exactly
how different stakeholders – including legislators, alumni and
prospective students – perceive the UI and what people believe
its strengths to be. Herman explained the importance of having a research-based
plan: “Our campus must listen to internal and external stakeholders
as we define who we are and what we do best. This information will be
used to support our strategic goals and as we share our excellence with
Over the next few months, staff members will be working with the Survey
Research Lab and outside consultants, using phone and face-to-face interviews
and online surveys to gather that information.
“People may receive multiple requests – such as a telephone
interview and an online survey – to provide their input because
they belong to more than one of the stakeholder groups,” said
Robin Kaler, interim associate chancellor of public affairs. “But
it’s critical that they respond each time because this is their
opportunity to help shape the university’s future.”
The goal is to develop a “brand” for the campus, a unique
identity that resonates with people and creates recognition of the university
as a leader in critical areas such as research and education. This recognition
will help the many audiences of the campus better understand the valuable
resources and services the university has to offer, as well as the vital
link between the campus and society.
One area in which the Urbana campus is lagging behind its competitors
is in the amount of corporate-sponsored research. According to a study
by the National Science Foundation, the top 20 research universities
in the United States receive an average of 6.7 percent of their research
funding from industry. At the UI’s Urbana campus, only 2.8 percent
of research funding comes from companies; the majority, nearly 63 percent,
is derived from government sources. Herman announced earlier this year
that he intends to increase to 10 percent the share of industry-sponsored
research funding at the Urbana campus over the next three to five years.
Tony Delio, director for business development in the Office of the Vice
Chancellor for Research, is working with the Chicago-based consulting
firm Hill & Knowlton to identify the university’s key research
strengths and will be developing a plan for conveying those strengths
to industry leaders in hopes of attracting more corporate-sponsored
White and the UI Foundation also are working with the Chicago-based
marketing firm Lipman Hearne, which specializes in helping universities
and other nonprofit organizations craft brand identities and communication
plans so they can better position themselves in the marketplace and
compete for students, resources and reputation.
Herman plans to have an initial draft of the campus strategic plan developed
by Oct. 31 and to launch the marketing plan that will help the university
reach those goals by January 2006. White plans to have the university
plan developed by Dec. 31 and to launch the marketing plan associated
with it by spring 2006.