Sarah Geegan

"see tomorrow." The University of Kentucky Strategic Plan

Published: Dec 20, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 20, 2013) — The University of Kentucky aspires to global recognition as a nationally ranked public institution, focused intently on addressing the challenges confronting the Commonwealth it has served for nearly 150 years; "see tomorrow: the University of Kentucky Strategic Plan" will guide the university’s academic development between now and 2020.


A plan of such magnitude requires coordination and input from across the entire campus. Executive Director of Strategic Planning Kirsten Turner said that process is predicated on reaching out to as many voices and constituencies as possible.


Turner, who will officially begin her position as executive director of strategic planning on Jan. 2, previously served as chief of staff, chief financial officer and assistant dean for academic planning in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Turner has worked in the field of higher education administration for the past 15 years, holding various roles at the University of Kentucky, University of Virginia and Transylvania University. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Educational Policy, College of Education, at the University of Kentucky. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.  Her master's degree is also in higher education from UK. 


She answered several questions regarding how the University of Kentucky will "see tomorrow."


1.            What is your role in the Strategic Plan?


The purpose of the strategic planning office is to enable the work of the faculty, staff, students and alumni as they chart the strategic direction of the university. We are here to facilitate the conversations and discussions that are key to building the overall strategic plan as well as help manage the process to ensure the plan is widely vetted and produced in a timely manner. We also provide logistical, research, financial and writing support to the working groups and the steering, planning, and integration committees.



2.            Can you give us a general overview of the process of strategic planning?


Last fall, President Eli Capilouto, his senior leadership team and the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees identified six guiding principles for the development of the university's 2014 - 2020 strategic plan. 


      1. Creating a Vibrant Undergraduate Learning Community

      2. Advancing a High Quality Graduate and Professional Education Portfolio

      3. Cultivating a Robust Environment for Research and Creative Work

      4. Developing a Strong and Sustainable UK Infrastructure

      5. Creating a Positive Work Environment for Faculty and Staff

      6. Having a Meaningful Impact on the Commonwealth and Community


As chief academic officer, Provost Christine Riordan, in partnership with the campus community, is responsible for developing and implementing this plan. A committee structure has been created to facilitate and distribute the development of the plan. Six working groups, consisting of a cross-section of faculty, staff and students, have been convened, each responsible for a different section of the plan. The co-chairs of these six committees, along with five members of the university leadership, constitute the plan’s Steering Committee, which is charged with overseeing the strategic planning process and any final drafts. An integration committee has also been formed to ensure that the work of the six working groups is consistent, cohesive, and combined. There are three support teams to provide communication, research, and logistical support. The plan is to be presented to the Board of Trustees in June 2014.


In addition to the formal committee structure, there is a specific charge to the six working groups to serve as ambassadors to the university community, sharing information and gathering ideas and feedback every step of the way.  They are asked to work across groups and to invite people from across campus into the process and conversation.



3.            How is this process different from previous strategic planning processes?


It is important to understand that this process began with the key assumption of wide participation. Past plans have been developed by a smaller segment of the university community. The “see tomorrow: the University of Kentucky Strategic Plan” planning process is predicated on reaching out to as many voices and constituencies as possible so that the resulting plan is developed and vetted by the greater university community prior to being approved formally by the Board of Trustees.


Similarly, the working groups have been charged with being as bold as possible in their thinking. The parameters of ideas and direction are purposely grand in scope. Although financial and infrastructural constraints will eventually be brought into the conversation to determine feasibility, the groups are charged to think broadly at first as to not limit the scope of their creative and imaginative thought as it pertains to the future direction of the university.



4.            What does the Strategic Plan timeline look like?


The plan’s work kicked off this fall by building an extensive planning infrastructure, which included a strategic planning library, toolkit website for the committees’ work and logistical, research and financial human power. In October, the UK Board of Trustees approved the six overarching strategic charges of the plan.


Also in October, nominations for committee membership were solicited throughout the university community. More than 200 people were nominated, with more than 110 people from diverse backgrounds participating directly on committees. Those committees convened for the first time in December to begin their work. Throughout the spring semester these committees will meet to not only deliberate the future direction of the university, but also to hold university forums, focus groups, meetings and conversations to ensure that all faculty, staff, students and alumni have an opportunity to participate in the formation of the plan. The final plan will be presented to President Capilouto and the Board of Trustees in May and June, respectively.  If approved, implementation of the plan will commence in July 2014.




MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365; 

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