Dear AU Community,
Our Changemakers for a Changing World strategy has been a critical foundation and north star throughout the past two years of disruption. We knew our approach—based on the pillars of research, learning, and community—was the right place to start because it was informed by and represented the best of the American University community. As I’ve said throughout the pandemic, we could not have predicted just how appropriate our focus would be on making change in a changing world. As we review Year 3 of implementation, AU changemakers continue to take on important challenges and make impactful change on our campus and in our communities. The work across the strategic imperatives of the Changemakers plan advances our mission, supports our community, and positions AU to thrive.
I am excited to share our Year 3 progress report and some important news about the future of the strategic plan. After three impactful years implementing our comprehensive strategy, we examined our progress, the impact of COVID-19, and areas of continued focus. We are on track in many areas, and the pandemic accelerated work in priorities such as lifelong learning. As COVID has accelerated the importance of many elements of our strategy and taking a holistic view of what we still seek to achieve under the Changemakers framework, we are extending the strategy for two additional years. Our new December 2025 completion date will provide opportunities to build on our foundational work and lessons learned and align our timelines with the Change Can’t Wait comprehensive fundraising campaign and the Middle States accreditation process. Last week, the Board of Trustees voted to officially extend the plan.
As I reflect on the highlights in the Year 3 progress report and infographic, I’m reminded of the seemingly boundless purpose and passion of AU changemakers. These achievements are possible because our students, faculty, and staff are dedicated to taking on challenges and making impactful change in the world. And we know that the change we pursue every day at American University can’t wait.
Building momentum in areas of strategic focus our Year 3 accomplishments, include:
- Increasing sponsored research funding by a record 45 percent year over year, including a history-making grant from the National Science Foundation to study wasted food and advance sustainability.
- Supporting student thriving by creating six new living-learning communities to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of second-year students, including AU’s first Black affinity residential community.
- Expanding our impact in our DC community by becoming the new home of the Urban Teachers Program, which will deliver innovative teacher preparation in DC and urban areas across the country, and welcoming our second cohort of District Scholars with the support of a $3 million investment.
- Launching our first comprehensive fundraising campaign in 18 years, Change Can’t Wait: The Campaign for American University. Through the lens of three pillars—elevate, inspire, and lead—the campaign will create transformative educational opportunities for students, advance research with impact, and build stronger communities throughout DC, across the country, and around the globe; and
- Unveiling Challenge Accepted, a bold new narrative that reflects our community’s engagement, passion, and commitment to tackling the world’s most urgent challenges.
I want to thank our strategic plan implementation teams, including the imperative directors and the many faculty and staff advancing this important initiative. The pandemic presented many challenges and continues to affect our community, but it also offered unique opportunities for creativity and growth that have accelerated our changemaking work. I am excited to be a part of AU’s purposeful commitment to change and look forward to all our community will accomplish as we continue to be changemakers in our rapidly changing world.