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Provost's Message

May 13, 2010

Dear Members of the Northwestern Community:

Seven strategic planning workgroups were launched in February, charged with proposing transformative, differentiating, and specific recommendations to guide Northwestern through the next decade.  At this time, I would like to provide an update of this process.

The seven groups are addressing different aspects of Northwestern's future: Areas of Distinction; Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; Beyond the Classroom; Globalization; Diversity and Inclusion; Strategic Partnerships; and Purple Sky. To inform discussions, groups are synthesizing existing information, as well as seeking feedback from a wide constituent base.  Examples of how workgroups are soliciting input include fireside chats, proposal submissions, interviews and focus groups, and most importantly workgroup members acting as ambassadors for the process, bringing information between constituents and the group.  Because each workgroup has faculty, staff, and student representatives from across the schools and administration, their reach is extensive and being utilized through this process.

Last month, the workgroup co-chairs met with the University's senior leadership to provide progress reports. We had a productive session in which co-chairs discussed how their plans are taking shape and the areas of overlap between the workgroups, and leadership was able to provide input midway through the process. President Schapiro and I look forward to receiving workgroup "white papers" at the end of June.  At that time we will share summaries with the community for feedback.  Additionally, we will be launching two more workgroups that were deemed more appropriate for the second phase. These two groups will be convened shortly to discuss 1) the infrastructure needed to support our vision and 2) how best to communicate Northwestern's distinct identity.  Members will come both from existing workgroups to leverage and retain important knowledge, and new members will be added who have expertise in these areas.

The goal is that by 2011 we will have integrated recommendations from the nine workgroups, as well as feedback from the community, to create a single university strategic plan.

I am extremely grateful to all of the workgroup members, and especially the co-chairs, for being part of this process.  It is a large commitment of time and energy, but it is also a great opportunity to learn more about the university and each other, and to help direct Northwestern's future.  While not every member of the community can serve on a workgroup, I echo my invitation at the beginning of this process to share your ideas with workgroup members or to write to  To see a list of workgroup members and other planning information, please go to

Daniel I. Linzer