Quality Endeavors Issue No. 147

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March 2012

Penn State is at the midpoint of implementing of its current strategic plan, Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14. Implementation of the plan was front-loaded, with work on most of the 38 strategies begun in Year One or Year Two, as shown in the Strategy Implementation Matrix. Information about those strategies can be found at Progress and Performance. In parallel, work is progressing in response to recommendations sent by the Executive Vice President and Provost to each of the University’s budget units based on program and service analysis by the Academic Program and Administrative Services Review Core Council and its subcommittees.

Below are some highlights from the mid-year reports on strategies identified for implementation in Year Three.

Goal 1: Enhance student success.

Strategy 1.5: Promote and Support High Quality Graduate Education
This is a long term, ongoing effort, but the effort is having an impact. The number of National Science Foundation Fellows more than doubled over the past five years, from 22 in 2006-07 to 49 in 2011-12. This was accompanied by an increase of about $2 million per year of support.

Graduate program review continues, with 12 graduate programs, degrees, and options approved by the Graduate Council in 2011-12 for closure. At the same time, an online tracking system for new graduate program and course proposals has been developed.

Several initiatives were implemented in 2011-12 to improve the diversity of the graduate student population. Additionally, The Graduate School is assessing the outcomes of recruitment efforts initiated over the last few years.

Goal 2: Advance academic excellence and research prominence.

Strategy 2.2: Foster Research, Instruction, and Outreach in Emerging, Interdisciplinary Fields of Great Societal Importance
A University-wide approach to developing the Sustainability Strategic Plan, including input from a range of organizations and individuals outside of the University, has led to the draft of a plan that can have wide impact. The Sustainability Plan addresses related research in Strategy 2.4. Utilize the University’s research strengths and global reach to advance sustainability.

Cluster hiring in the life sciences and cyber sciences continues to build capacity and diversity, and strengthen synergy. Movement of faculty and staff into the new Millennium Science Complex is expected to be completed by June 2012. This will facilitate further interdisciplinary research.

Goal 5: Serve the people of the Commonwealth and beyond.

Strategy 5.2: Consolidate Specialized Services at Regional and Campus Sites
Penn State’s Video Learning Network (VLN), enabling delivery of courses simultaneously at multiple sites, is deployed in fifteen locations across the Commonwealth, with three additional sites planned. Penn State West is a pilot collaboration among Penn State’s western campuses and the World Campus to provide one unified Penn State presence for adult learners. Task forces have been established to evaluate state-wide continuing education and information technology at the Commonwealth Campuses. Additionally, each of the campuses has received recommendations in letters from the Academic Program and Administrative Services Review Core Council, along with a letter addressing recommendations across all the campuses.

As stated in Priorities for Excellence, Penn State continues, through several concurrent approaches to look for “new ways to improve teaching and learning, advance discovery and creativity, and serve our many constituents—while becoming a more efficient and effective institution.” Information about all strategies can be found at Progress and Performance. Future progress reports will be shared with the University community as they are received.