Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
November 19, 1999

Review of strategic plan draft continues

by Linda Charles
Most comments about the proposed university strategic plan for 2000 to 2005 were positive during three open forums held recently. Attendance was small at the forums, averaging less than 20 people.

President Martin Jischke said he favored the new themes of learning, scholarship and engagement as a more "modern" way of thinking about Iowa State's traditional mission of teaching, research and outreach.

He also said he is pleased that the university's mission of becoming the best land-grant university in the nation remains in the proposed plan. He said those outside the university recognize this goal, and he would have a difficult time defending a decision to remove it from Iowa State's aspirations.

Some of those attending the forums questioned the use of the word "scholarship" as one of the three overlapping themes of the plan.

Suzanne Hendrich, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and several others suggested substituting the word "discovery."

Hendrich maintained that, to some, the message of the word "scholarship" is "research." If the new strategic plan is going to update how the traditional three-part mission of the university is defined, using the word "discovery" gives a better idea of what research is about, she said.

Scholarship needs to be at the center of the strategic plan rather than just one of the three themes, she said. Scholarship affects all areas of the university. She said all faculty, whether doing research, teaching or outreach, think of themselves as scholars.

Jischke pointed out that the strategic plan shows that the three themes overlap, but Hendrich said that overlap was not enough.

Jischke defended the use of "scholarship," saying "discovery" represents only one aspect of scholarship. Discovery doesn't include sharing information and peer review, he said, while scholarship does.

He said he interprets "scholarship" in the same way it is used in the university's promotion and tenure policy.

Jischke also emphasized that the strategic plan is used for budgeting decisions, as well as a communication tool for telling others what Iowa State is about. He called the overlapping themes of the plan "revolutionary."

Stan Johnson, vice provost for extension and a member of the committee that prepared the proposed plan, noted that the plan purposely is less detailed than the existing strategic plan to allow more of the university's constituents to use the plan in expressing goals specific to them.

Asked the difference between outreach and engagement, Jischke said outreach is developing something, such as an agriculture program, and then offering it to interested groups. Engagement would be bringing in the interested groups to plan the program, sharing resources and learning from them also.

Engagement includes mutual agendas and resources, partnership and sharing, he said. "It's more two-way, less one-way."

He said the concept of engagement is one way to reinforce the idea that the university belongs to the people of the state.

Benchmarks still are being developed for the proposed plan, but Jischke noted that he prefers there not be too many measures for the plan.

"You have to be careful," he warned. "In the long run, you become what you measure."

Comments on the proposed plan also are being gathered from campus groups and through e-mail ( Jischke asks that comments be submitted by Nov. 30.

Jischke said after he receives comments, the plan will be revised. The proposed strategic plan will be presented to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, in February or March. It will take effect July 1, 2000.

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