February 2013

Summary of Outreach Activities



January 25, 2013

Members of the Brown community may read Interim Reports released by six committees, plus a summary of results of a faculty resources survey, and a status report on the Signature Academic Initiatives component of the planning process. 



November 19, 2012

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

Work has begun in earnest in support of Brown’s next strategic plan, an early version of which will be discussed at the February meeting of the Corporation, with a final draft completed by the May Corporation meeting. This will be an intense and swiftly moving process, and we intend to make it as transparent and inclusive as possible.

I am writing to provide a brief update and to invite your interest and participation. The Strategic Planning site lists the membership, contact information, and charge for each committee; the site will have up-to-date information regarding ongoing work and progress. Members of the Brown community are invited to offer questions and comments throughout the process.

Faculty Recruitment and Retention

The committee began formal meetings in October, and has had preliminary discussions about the need for greater emphasis in coming years on the infrastructure required to support faculty research and teaching at the highest level. The committee has also heard from one of its members, the Associate Provost for Academic Development and Diversity, about opportunities to enhance Brown’s efforts and success in recruiting and retaining minority and women scholars. The committee has planned its meeting agenda through mid-December, when it will develop its draft report. By then, department chairs, the Faculty Executive Committee, Vice President for Research, University Library, Human Resources, and other offices responsible for academic infrastructure will have had the opportunity to provide input to the committee. Over the course of its work, the committee will conduct a comparative analysis of peer institution salaries and benefits, including sabbatical and leave policies. The committee will also evaluate the role of graduate students in faculty research and teaching, and consider library services, research facilities, and other elements of faculty life as it carries out its charge.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/faculty
E-mail to co-chairs: faculty-development@brown.edu

Financial Aid

In preparation for outreach meetings with the campus community, the committee has conducted a comprehensive review of Brown's financial aid polices and the policies of peer institutions. Over the course of the next month, the committee has an intensively scheduled series of meetings with both general campus audiences and targeted small groups representing various populations with specific financial aid interests and perspectives. These will include events sponsored by the Undergraduate Council of Students and by Brown Conversations. The committee will begin drafting its report in mid-December.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/finaid
E-mail to co-chairs: finaid@brown.edu

Educational Innovation

Early meetings have examined the importance of language study and international experiences for 21st century undergraduates, as well as the potential for expanding the curricular and research dimensions of public service at Brown. The committee explored specific ideas to advance these potential priorities, including a proposal for an expansive program in language and culture, and a proposal for new semester-long courses, taught at Brown, which would include travel abroad as part of the course content. The committee also discussed a program of "engaged scholarship" that would attach a public service component to relevant concentrations. By semester's end, the committee will have held seven meetings, covering, in addition to the previously mentioned topics, innovations in STEM and pre-medical education; linking arts and humanities across the curriculum; fostering education for a more just and inclusive world; the role of residential life in learning; and, in coordination with the Committee on Online Teaching and Learning, the role of technology in enhancing undergraduate education. The committee will continue its work into next year, developing a draft report early in the spring semester.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/innovation
E-mail to co-chairs: educational-innovation@brown.edu

Doctoral Education

The committee has reviewed substantial literature on doctoral education, including reports from the National Research Council, the National Institutes of Health, and the Council of Graduate Schools. The committee is asking questions fundamental to the work of imagining the future of doctoral education at Brown, in the context of the changing landscape of doctoral education. Over the course of its work, the committee will discuss the nature and definition of the Ph.D. itself; review significant elements of the path to a doctorate, including the appropriate time-to-degree; and consider Brown's particular institutional characteristics and distinctive strengths. The committee is inviting campus colleagues from the range of disciplines to offer ideas and comment, and is planning broader outreach opportunities as well.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/doctoral
E-mail to co-chairs: doctoral-education@brown.edu

Online Teaching and Learning

The committee has done early work to establish a common understanding of the different perceptions, meanings, methods, and implications connoted by the phrases “online teaching” and “online learning.” As part of this process, committee members have begun to review relevant practices and models at Brown and beyond and to examine principles of successful learning, whether in person or online. The committee will investigate a range of fundamental issues, from ways to assess the effectiveness of online teaching and learning, to issues of credit, certification and credentialing. The committee will differentiate between the online distribution of content and successful online teaching. It will explore connections between Brown’s open curriculum and the principles of open education; review opportunities for life-long learning for alumni, and education for learners outside the Brown community; and discuss the appropriate balance of in-person and online instruction. The committee has also formed a working group to study intellectual property issues for online materials and course content posted online, and to advise senior academic officers on policy development.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/online
E-mail to co-chairs: online-education@brown.edu

Re-imagining Campus and Community

The committee has reviewed the historical development of campus and conducted an in-depth review of the many studies and plans that have been done at Brown and in the local area that have guided infrastructure and capital planning over the past decade. Earlier this month it began working with consultants from Sasaki Associates, retained by the University to help with master planning. The committee hosted the first of a series of focus groups, bringing together approximately 70 members of the Brown community for facilitated discussions designed to understand more fully the infrastructure and space requirements needed to fulfill more effectively the University’s mission of teaching, research and service. The committee will work to identify physical barriers to improved research and teaching, new kinds of spaces suited to new instructional techniques, challenges posed by physical distance, and lessons that can be learned from other institutions and other campuses. The committee’s work will include several surveys, including a survey of the faculty to assess scholarly infrastructure and resource needs and priorities.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/re-imagining
E-mail to co-chairs: reimagine-space@brown.edu

Signature Academic Initiatives

Brown prides itself on its collaborative ethos and the easy permeability of its departmental boundaries. The University is seeking faculty-driven projects that build on these distinctive strengths in ways that catalyze and integrate scholarly and pedagogic energies to address issues of great importance to the campus, the community, the nation, and the world. To date, approximately a dozen proposals have been submitted from across the campus, each making the intellectual case for the significance of the particular initiative and its value and fit for Brown. More than 70 faculty members came together for a forum to discuss some early ideas, possible areas of focus, and potential collaborations. All proposals are available for review on the Strategic Planning web site. Additional proposals are invited and expected; the deadline for submission is December 3, 2012.
Website: http://brown.edu/about/administration/strategic-planning/signature-academic-initiatives
E-mail to co-chairs: signature-areas@brown.edu

Many thanks to all who have participated in planning activities thus far. The President and the Provost continue to reach out to the broader community to engage as many people as possible in the planning process. In addition, the President has formed two ad hoc committees of corporation members and alumni to advise her on issues of campus planning, and on the use of digital technology in research, teaching and communications. Again, this is a process that will benefit from the involvement of the Brown community. I invite you to read about the work that is underway, to bring your ideas forward, and to communicate with the committee chairs at the addresses above.


Mark Schlissel