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Memorandum February 6, 2018

Campus Community
Sylvia M. Burwell, President
Strategic Planning Process and Our Plan for Inclusive Excellence

Our American University community is undertaking two major initiatives this spring, and while we do this, effective and transparent communication is essential. That is why I wanted to contact you with a brief summary on both that builds on previous communications.

Strategic Plan

You may have heard that we are on the path toward a new strategic plan for the university. In my first six months, we held a series of listening tours across campus, with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. From this, we started work on a clear statement of our mission, vision, and values. We have also conducted a full analysis of AU's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (commonly called a "SWOT" analysis), together with the Education Advisory Board.

There will be additional opportunities for your input and guidance. Just recently, we announced a University Strategic Planning Committee- whose members you can find here, and who are listed at the end of this message. This committee will set up a system of subcommittees, whose members will work to detail the major components of the strategic imperatives that come out of the work to date. The system of subcommittees will start the detailed discussions and community conversations around these components. By the fall, we hope to have a full plan ready to launch.

Throughout this process, we will provide opportunities for all members of the AU community to provide their feedback on the strategic plan as it develops, both through in-person sessions and virtually. Be sure to check for updates to our strategic planning website, and look for items from me as well as AU News in your inbox.

American University has the chance to seize this moment and make real progress over the next five years. I hope you'll join our effort.

Inclusive Excellence

Part of moving forward on our strategic planning and excellence as a university is moving forward as a community. That is why we just released a Plan for Inclusive Excellence. Following the incidents of hate and bias on campus, the results of campus surveys, and my own conversations with many of you, we knew that it was important to continue our journey toward making AU a more inclusive campus. As we learned about the framework of Inclusive Excellence, we also came to realize that inclusion in our community isn't just something that's nice to have-it is central to our success as a place of higher learning.

This work's success will depend on my leadership, and all of us working together. I hope you'll take the time to read the report and identify the place where you want to contribute. I will be checking in on this question at the end of the semester. Be ready to use social media to let us know what you have done.

Finally, we want to bring this conversation to the community. On February 8, from 2:30 to 4:00 pm at the SIS Atrium, I'll join my former colleague from the Obama administration Julián Castro, and Dr. Alma Clayton-Pedersen, a scholar who will speak to the inclusive excellence framework. I hope you'll join our discussion. You can RSVP at To view the live stream, click here.

We have a lot of work ahead this spring and this coming fall, and for the years to come, but as always, I am excited and honored to undertake this work with the inspiring AU community.

University Strategic Planning Committee

  • Sylvia M. Burwell, President
  • Scott Bass, Provost
  • Patricia Aufderheide, Professor, School of Communication
  • Derrick Cogburn, Professor, School of International Service and Kogod School of Business
  • Frederick Engram Jr., Manager, Graduate Recruitment Communications, Office of Graduate Studies
  • Valentina Fernandez, Student Trustee
  • Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, School of Education
  • Mina Kato, Graduate Leadership Council
  • Doug Kudravetz, Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and Treasurer
  • Jackie Mabry, Executive Director, Principal Gift Strategy, Office of Development and Alumni Relations
  • Dave Marcotte, Professor, School of Public Affairs
  • Simon Nicholson, Professor, School of International Service
  • Ana Polanco, Alumna
  • Lily Qi, Alumna
  • Jeff Sine, Trustee
  • Brenda Smith, Professor, Washington College of Law
  • Courtney Surls, Vice President, Development and Alumni Relations
  • Lacey Wootton, Director, Writing Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences