Peterson unveils strategic plan

The Institute’s long awaited Strategic Plan was formally announced on Tuesday morning, a little over a year after the campus-wide initiative was launched. Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson delivered the Strategic Vision for Tech to an almost capacity crowd in the Ferst Theatre Auditorium. The audience included current students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders.

The Strategic Plan will effectively act as a set of calculated goals set to carry Tech into its 150th anniversary in 2035.

“Our challenge was to create a shared vision that can help ensure success. We believe that our new strategic plan provides great agility in a rapidly changing environment. It enables us to make investments today and to better prepare for tomorrow,” Peterson said.

The final draft of the Strategic Plan consists of five all-encompassing goals aimed at increasing Tech’s global presence, increasing institute-wide efficiency, sustaining and enhancing academic and research prowess and becoming one of the most respected technology based learning institutions in the world. Beneath those five overarching goals, the Strategic Plan includes ten Institute-wide initiatives. These are more foreseeable, concrete objectives such as creating an experimental “X” college that would allow students to personally tailor and customize their major coursework.

“The ten Institute-wide initiatives are the things I’m really most excited about because when you ask the question, ‘What’s next?’ — that’s what’s next,” said Undergraduate Student Body President Corey T. Boone.

The development of the Strategic Plan began in July of 2009 when the steering committee membership was named. The membership is made up of over 60 faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends who represent the broad interests of Tech.

Peterson first broached the subject of the Strategic Plan with the general public at his Investiture ceremony on Sept. 3, 2009.

“Last year after the investiture, Dr. Peterson announced the Institute was going to go into a strategic plan format. They had a day full of discussions. From there they invited people from the community, faculty members, alumni [and] students to pour into the strategic plan. They did that for an entire year and what was announced yesterday was the result of it,” Boone said.

Initial drafts of the document were drawn up in Dec. of last year and the final draft was completed by May 2010.

“Students have always had a pretty strong role in the development of the strategic plan,” Boone said.

During the planning process, the Institute provided an abundance of opportunities for campus feedback and interaction. Over 70 town hall meetings were held throughout the process. An online survey soliciting feedback was open through June 15. Last Jan., students and teachers participated in Days of Engagement in their classes, where they were encouraged to discuss their personal visions for Tech’s future. Overall, more than 1200 ideas for the plan were submitted throughout the various processes.

“There are some initiatives that SGA has taken on. Just from being around the Strategic Plan, I think you’ll see some changes in the number of opportunities to live, learn and play, to make Midtown a community where we can really thrive and enjoy these four, five or six years that we are here,” Boone said.

Academically, the plan stresses Tech’s need for continuing focus and overall excellence in the areas of engineering and those related to technology as well as in the pursuit of new and emerging fields.

“We have a tradition of developing leaders. It’s imperative that here at Tech we remain a top engineering and technology institution, focused on both education and research,” Peterson said, “For it is this that is the cornerstone of our reputation and any plan must continue to build upon our strengths, especially in the integration of science and technology, as we seek to leverage this excellence across all areas of intellectual pursuit and in a wide variety of academic fields and disciplines as they are related to science and technology.”

Outside of scholarship, the plan emphasizes future research and innovation at Tech while placing greater importance on the Institute’s local and global presence.

“We want to explore the possibility of creating a revitalized Midtown development zone that will surround the campus and include quality housing, strong schools, world class informal learning centers, cultural venues and retail amenities,” Peterson said.

In his presentation, Peterson addressed the need to create an enveloping strategic plan during the current economic situation.

“The reality is [that] strategic planning when economic times are difficult is even more important. It’s even more important that we do this successfully today than we should have done it or did it when economic times were good,” Peterson said.