St. Thomas identified five areas where change is key to achieving the vision. While some strategic plans call these goals, we are naming them “themes” because they do not serve as isolated goals in and out of themselves. They are more properly the specific challenges that various stakeholders and our own research repeatedly identified as areas calling for revision or improvement.

We also chose the term “theme” because most of our strategic priorities address more than one of these areas. We view the plan as a complex whole, with interlocking elements. These elements then function more as themes in a larger symphony, where each one may take the lead at various points in the strategic plan, and where each is necessary for the overall success of the plan.

One major principle that came up repeatedly across all units on campus is the desire to function more deliberately as a unified university. Our self-study noted that one challenge we face is the growing complexity of our university structure. While the complexity is good, we do not want to lose our sense of being an interconnected university whole. This desire for a more unified university also underlies our strategic choice of priorities that will have impact across the university and out into the broader world.

Rather than tie strategic priorities to single themes, we have chosen to list all of the themes first, and then show how each priority addresses one or more of these themes. In this way, our plan models the vision of the university as an integrated community, realizing a common mission in distinct ways.