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Academic Strategic Plan

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Executive Summary

Four PillarsJuly 2014 - Draft

Vanderbilt University aspires to shape the future of higher education and to foster the creation of knowledge that together improve the human condition.

Vanderbilt embraces this vision by focusing on the following goals:

  • to pursue excellence in education by offering experiences that merge the advantages of a liberal arts college with those of a world-class research university
  • to pursue excellence in scholarship, creative expression, and research that address important problems and questions facing our community, our country, and the world
  • to leverage the many synergies between discovery, learning, and service across our entire community of scholars and learners to seek accomplishment and seize opportunities
  • to be transparent and accountable to all the University’s constituencies
  • in sum, to be among the very best research universities in the world

In pursuing these goals, Vanderbilt will fully commit to cultivating an environment for learning across a broad base of humanist, social, and natural science disciplines. We also commit to investing in creative expression and fundamental research. Further, we commit to ensuring diversity of all forms in the pursuit of excellence in learning and discovery.

Vanderbilt’s Distinctions and Institutional Identity

Vanderbilt is exceptionally well positioned to meet current and future challenges facing higher education and society. We will capitalize on our distinctive strengths and the substantial gains established over the past decade, including:

  • a One Vanderbilt philosophy that unites ten outstanding schools and colleges all connected by a compact central campus
  • a culture of collaboration, creativity, and civility
  • a commitment to affordability and accessibility
  • the establishment of a residential college system
  • a scholarly community where learning advances discovery and discovery advances learning
  • being located in one of the most dynamic cities in the country

Strategic Thinking for Vanderbilt’s Future

Four foundational principles frame our aspirations as one of the world’s great teaching and research universities.

1. Offering students a rich and diverse intellectual community that educates the whole person and cultivates lifelong learning

Our graduates must be able to solve problems. Toward that end, a Vanderbilt education will instill in our students an ability to engage, to question, and to forge positive change.

Strategic Initiatives

  1. Fully endow Opportunity Vanderbilt to ensure accessibility and affordability
  2. Enrich the educational experience by completing and extending the residential college system and developing new infrastructure to foster further interconnections between discovery and learning
  3. Establish Immersion Vanderbilt to ensure that every undergraduate engages in a creative and independent project
  4. Launch new curriculum to enable foundational skills for lifelong learning, including those in the languages, the arts, and new technology
  5. Establish a Cross-College Teaching Initiative that allows all faculty to work together to educate our undergraduate, graduate and professional students

2. Investing in multi- and inter-disciplinary programs to lead in defining and addressing important problems facing society, while pursuing new and exciting opportunities

Vanderbilt is poised to excel in discovery and learning by leveraging the tremendous expertise from across One Vanderbilt while further strengthening our training of future leaders and scholars.

Trans-institutional programs will focus on issues of wide-ranging significance, create and/or extend collaborations across multiple fields, and include both research and teaching components,positioning Vanderbilt to be a world leader.

Strategic Initiatives

  1. Establish a university-wide council to oversee Trans-institutional Programs (TIPs),developing and applying criteria for guiding investments in new and existing TIPs.
  2. Provide seed money for creative ideas with clear benchmarks for ongoing support, and establish sustainable platforms and environments for incubating innovative ventures for discovery and learning.
  3. Invest in graduate education to make dramatic improvements that advance recruiting and special training, and strengthen our intellectually rich culture across the entire campus.

3. Building distinctive and distinguished programs that develop and offer effective solutions to pressing health and healthcare problems

Vanderbilt must harness its widely recognized strengths in healthcare and considerable disciplinary breadth across our compact campus.

We recommend support for efforts to develop and implement innovative, aggressive and multidisciplinary solutions that improve personal and community health, impact disease prevention, advance the quality, equity, and accountability of healthcare services, improve public policy tied to disease prevention and healthcare delivery, and train future leaders and scholars in healthcare.

Strategic Initiatives

  1. Create sustainable platforms to support fundamental research yielding discoveries about the molecular basis of disease
  2. Launch efforts to infuse health and biomedical science initiatives with university strengths in the humanities and social sciences, and provide forums for understanding the cultural, economic, legal, political, and social attributes that affect health and disease prevention
  3. Develop specialized curriculum that will train future leaders to address complex health and healthcare issues from innovative interdisciplinary perspectives, including endowing and expanding dual degree programs
  4. Make Vanderbilt a national “hub” for identifying solutions in healthcare delivery and policy

4. Transforming education models through technology and research

Vanderbilt must build on its international reputation and conduct cutting-edge research that will assess effectiveness of new education technologies, which, in turn, will allow us to be a leader in best practices. We must embrace those new education technologies that foster innovation in learning, teaching, and discovery.

Strategic Initiatives

  1. Create new infrastructure that supports emerging education technologies and enables personalized and connected learning for all Vanderbilt students – current, past, and future
  2. Build partnerships between the new Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, the Center for Teaching, the libraries, and all campus programs to most efficiently and effectively advance new technologies
  3. Launch new curriculum in communications and information technology, data analysis, data visualization, and analytics
  4. Invest in research on the impact of new education technologies on learning
  5. Employ new education technologies to forge partnerships, collaborations, and global outreach

Stewardship of Our Future

Vanderbilt has a profound responsibility to society and all its stakeholders to be good stewards of its precious resources. The following are key criteria for stewardship offered by this strategic plan:

  • Vanderbilt will assess outcomes and be accountable for the efficient use of resources
  • Vanderbilt will assess the achievements and satisfaction of students and faculty
  • Vanderbilt will assess the impact of research and the effectiveness of learning
  • Vanderbilt will periodically review its activities in these thematic areas, eliminating or improving underperforming areas and setting priorities so the University can be truly distinctive

As we look toward our 150th anniversary in 2023, Vanderbilt’s 2013-14 Strategic Plan will bring all schools, all hands, and all minds together in the joint missions of learning, discovery, and service. We are indeed One Vanderbilt, and we will meet our challenges and continue our rise to the top together.