Strategic Planning draft released

Following months of discussions and meetings with students and faculty across campus, Tech’s Strategic Planning Committee publicly released the first draft of the Strategic Planning Report. The documents highlight the positive aspects of Tech, including its growing diversity, strong research preeminence and cohesive Tech tradition; however, the drafts also address the poor student-faculty interaction, lack of flexibility in both the classroom and degree choice as well as negative student attitude about expectations.

The draft’s papers analyze how Tech started off as a white male society and has transformed into ethnic and gender-based subcultures. Tech is now the leading producer of African American and Hispanic scientists and engineers in the nation.

“[Tech needs] to apply the same process skills it teaches to setting a clear course for its own future in the globalized 21st century,” said Joseph Bankoff, President and CEO of Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.

“A few cultural aspects [at Tech] are negative. Generally, they are vestiges of times past that have not yet completed the transition to the modern era,” the draft said, citing students’ negative attitudes and the battle for attention between engineering and other academic disciplines as ongoing problems.

“These concerns have manifested themselves in the form of less favorable word-of-mouth among current students…and delayed institutional giving patterns by young alumni,” the draft said.

The draft also heavily emphasize poor student-faculty interactions. Tech is nationally ranked in the Princeton Review for “lackluster faculty-student characteristics.”

“The physical locations where professors and students live, work and play are all independently different from one another. This does not provide any ‘extracurricular’ opportunity for faculty and students to interact,” the draft said.

The draft suggests a residential modification, modeled after other colleges. According to the draft, “Live-Learn-Play” communities would create close-knit student-faculty relationships, while supporting a “global village” that would put various diversities in direct contact with one another. The draft cites large and impersonal classes, the faculty’s lack of interest in teaching and minimal flexibility in curriculum as issues. One of the “Big Ideas” in the draft includes “student-directed, discipline-independent degree programs and leadership development.”To bring more academic diversity to Tech, the drafts call for more liberal arts programs, and for cross matriculation planning with Emory University.

“Some faculty members perceive that good teaching is not rewarded in the promotion and tenure process,” the draft said.

According to the draft, the lack of effective teaching may result in less-than-honorable activity.

“In some cases, they have led to duplication of effort and unproductive internal competition,” the report said.

Externally, the Strategic Planning draft calls for more state-wide, national and global cooperation.

“As [Institute President G.P. “Bud”] Peterson has toured the State, he has found that while everybody appears to have great respect for Tech, many residents view us as aloof, arrogant and committed to a world view that few Georgians identify with,” the drafts said.

From an educational standpoint, the draft plans to raise math scores in Georgia and to offer joint-enrollment to all Georgia high schools.

Tech also plans to work with other post-secondary institutions to create a college of law, engineering-entrepreneurship degrees and statewide engineering programs. From an industrial point of view, the drafts note Tech’s influence in Georgia by “spinning off technologically-based startup companies.” Tech hopes to make use of Atlanta, “riding [its coattails] in the rare combination of inspirational vision and pragmatic advantage of being a port city connected to the world.”

“We can do a better job using Atlanta as our classroom. We looked at a number of other universities who have a wider range of living and learning options, and how some of these places used these arrangements to increase student-faculty interactions,” said Dr. Larry Jacobs, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Beyond the state, “an on-ground presence in key ‘innovation hot spots’ is essential, where remote or periodic visiting collaborators are simply not enough,” the draft said, naming the issue a “barrier against developing national influence and the ability to draw the very best and brightest from around the nation and globe”.

To read the reports’ drafts in full, visit http://gatech.edu/vision/reports.