Strategic directions to be updated and revised

One of my goals this year is to update and revise the strategic directions of the university. I would like to ask the assistance of the whole university community in accomplishing this.

As you know, our eight strategic directions were approved in 2001 with the addition of two more in 2003. With our new mission statement in place, it is time to review those existing directions again. Some of the priorities have been completed, some may continue, and some clearly need to be revised.

I would like you to think about the future of St. Thomas under the three themes of “Access, Excellence and Catholic Identity.” How can we make progress and achieve breakthroughs in each of these areas?

For example, regarding “Access,” with the rising cost of higher education and with the predicted change in the demographics of our student body in coming years, how do we make it possible for all talented young men and women interested in this university to access a St. Thomas education? How can we attract and retain students, faculty and staff of diverse social, racial and economic backgrounds? What other goals are important to “Access?”

Second, as a teaching university, how do we deepen the quality of our educational experience for students, faculty and staff? What must we do, both in teaching and in the services we provide, to enhance our pursuit of excellence?

Third, as our mission clearly states, our educational efforts are “inspired by the Catholic intellectual tradition.” How do we sustain and deepen our Catholic and faith-based identity while still remaining inclusive and welcoming to people of other traditions? How do we, as our mission states, “educate morally responsible leaders” dedicated to the “common good?”

I have asked the Office for Mission to lead us in a reflection on these three themes of “Access, Excellence and Catholic Identity” as we update and discern our future directions. Academic deans and administrative directors will facilitate the first phase of this campuswide discussion in each of their own units.

I will appoint a representative University Task Force on Strategic Planning to gather the input from your conversations and to distill it into proposed priorities for the university. These will be brought back to the community in the spring for further analysis and discussion.

I thank you in advance for your active and creative participation in this important planning process.