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Kick Off Event

February 18, 2010

On February 18, over one hundred faculty, students, and staff workgroup members gathered at the Allen Center for the University Strategic Plan Kick-Off Event. The afternoon opened with an introduction from Provost Linzer and President Schapiro. Provost Linzer explained that this was an ideal time to begin a planning process, as our current plan, the Highest Order of Excellence II sunsets in 2010 and the arrival of President Schapiro provides an opportunity to define priorities for the future. He also illustrated how previous planning efforts led to intentional investments in priority areas and propelled Northwestern forward. One example cited was students' increased success in winning prestigious fellowships. Because of the university's concerted efforts to offer more global opportunities and to support increased undergraduate research, student interest, and success in obtaining fellowships, has grown.

President Schapiro spoke about his experiences working with strategic plans, both as a President, and as a consultant. He surmised that only one third of plans are successful, and that successful plans are specific, adaptable, compelling, and feasible. In the end, he said, the President should be able to utilize the plan to identify fundraising priorities for the university. It should tell a compelling story, but it should also be flexible enough to change when the world changes.

Both the President and the Provost also thanked the audience for accepting the invitation to join the workgroups and challenged them to be visionaries and ambassadors for the process.

Following the presentation, the participants broke into the seven workgroups and held their first meeting. For two hours, the groups discussed how to best frame their charge, dove into issues, and discussed the best ways to move forward. Cocktails and dinner followed, where additional ideas were exchanged and co-chairs briefly presented their afternoon discussions.