Quality Endeavors No. 152

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October 2012

Penn State continues to be busy with analysis and planning. The University has addressed Year 3 strategies from Priorities for Excellence: Penn State’s Strategic Plan for 2009-2010 through 2013-2014. The Academic Program and Administrative Services Review Core Council convened as a result of Strategy 2.4, Consolidate Academic and Administrative Programs through Targeted Reviews, has completed the unit reviews. In spring 2012 the Budget Planning Task Force was established.

Penn State’s strategic plan designated start times of Year 1, 2, or 3 for the specific strategies for each of the seven goals and a Progress and Performance Web page was established to make information available to the public. Year 3 progress reports were given for Strategies 1.5, Promote and Support High-Quality Graduate Education, and 2.2, Foster Research, Instruction, and Outreach in Emerging Interdisciplinary Fields of Great Societal Importance.

In support of Strategy 1.5 relating to high-quality graduate education, initiatives included initiating ‘dashboards’ of relevant graduate program metrics that will be available for self-assessment by the programs, and will form the basis of internal review. There has been an increase of 159% in National Science Foundation Fellows from 2006-2007 to 2011-2012, and the Graduate School continues partnerships with several colleges to provide support and/or oversight for numerous externally originated awards. Additionally, the College of Medicine has reviewed six PhD programs which shared a common foundation and consolidated them into one Biomedical Sciences graduate program. This new program was launched in 2011-2012. The result has been an increase in yield for the new program, compared to the six individual programs in the past, and an increase in the diversity among the incoming students.

With reference to Strategy 2.2, increasing work in interdisciplinary fields, Penn State’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is one of 60 institutions in the United States to receive National Institutes of Health funding to develop a framework supporting research across biomedical, social, life, and physical sciences.

Strategy 2.4 was the driving force behind the establishment of Penn State’s Academic Program and Administrative Services Review Core Council in 2009. Referred to as the Core Council, the group of 13 senior administrators and faculty reviewed the analyses from three subcommittees that conducted a data-based evaluation of every degree program offered at every Penn State location, and also explored other opportunities to improve operations within University Park colleges, the campuses, and major administrative processes. The result was a letter to each of the budget unit executives with recommendations for more effective and efficient operations. Numerous opportunities for savings had been identified by the time the work of the Core Council was completed in May 2012.

With an eye to the economic and financial conditions that Penn State is facing, in April 2012 President Erickson charged the Budget Planning Task Force. Chaired jointly by Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Pangborn and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray, the task force is examining the University’s budget model and organizational structure from a long-term perspective. The Task Force includes members of the Board of Trustees, the administration, campus chancellors, college deans, faculty, and students. The Budget Planning Task Force expects to complete its work before the end of the fall 2012 semester.

Penn State’s analysis and planning activity continues as we move toward the end of the current planning cycle. The University is expecting to start the search for a new president, to take office in July of 2014, in late 2012. In view of this, the start of the next planning cycle has been delayed a year. Unit strategic planning, which begins a year before the University-wide planning cycle, is now scheduled to begin in 2013-2014.