We are currently in year four of our ten-year strategic plan.
Attached is a report I delivered to our Board of Trustees on September 20 outlining the progress we’ve made in the third year of the plan and expect to make in the fourth. We now must turn our attention to the next two years.
As has been our practice since the strategic plan was put in place, we will allocate available resources to achieve its goals and objectives. This is not a budget call; that will come in due course. This is a call for ideas on how best to advance the strategic plan over the next two years. These new strategic plan objectives will be developed in two stages.
I have asked the provost, vice presidents, and other senior managers to engage their divisions and constituencies in an initial round of discussions on the broad areas of the strategic plan that should get special attention during the two academic years that begin May 1, 2103, and May 1, 2014. I ask that the same types of discussions be held by student organizations and the Staff Council. The results from these discussions will be summarized by the division executive or organization leader and communicated to help develop the budget formulation criteria. I urge every member of the community to participate in this initial round; especially helpful would be input on which strategic plan goals need special attention during the next phase. If you prefer, send your comments, recommendations, or concerns directly by using this link.
The newly appointed University Budget Committee needs the guidance that this first stage of planning for the next two years will provide. The committee’s first task is to develop budget formulation criteria. These broad priorities are rooted in the goals of the strategic plan and serve as parameters for the committee’s more detailed budget proposals on revenue and expenditures. The criteria from the last budget process, which were the basis for the current two-year budget, are attached for reference.
The committee must submit their proposed criteria for the coming cycle to me by November 1, and the Board of Trustees will consider them for approval at their November meeting, before we proceed to specific budget proposals. To align these budget criteria with strategic priorities, we need to review our progress on the plan and identify areas in need of special attention.
After the Board of Trustees approves the budget formulation criteria, the University Budget Committee will develop detailed proposals for revenues and expenditures. We will also develop strategic plan objectives for the next two years, comparable in detail to those currently in force and described in the attached report. I will again ask the senior academic and administrative leadership to initiate discussions on the objectives and ask faculty, student, and staff organizations to do the same. New objectives will be done in time to inform the development of the new budget’s revenue and expenditure proposals.
Both planning and budgeting in the current environment presents challenges. I need not dwell on the deep and understandable concerns about the costs of higher education and student debt. In addition to the ongoing weakness in the economy and employment, we have the looming “fiscal cliff,” the uncertainties of the current political season, and the lack of clarity on what will be done to address both the deficit and the nation’s long-term debt. We will proceed with the information we have and incorporate what we can on these external factors as they become known or clearer.
We are fortunate to be entering this period in a position of comparative academic and financial strength. Because of that foundation, the gains of the past several years are secure. Working together we can fashion strategic plan objectives that reflect the proper mix of academic progress and financial prudence.
AU's strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World, outlines goals and objectives for the next decade at American University. Visit american.edu/strategicplan for more information. (myAU.american.edu login required for some documents)