Start a long road trip without a clear map route and travel to your destination could prove problematic. That’s the rationale behind Texas Tech’s new strategic plan which is intended to guide the university to its 100th birthday in 2025.
The plan, entitled ‘A Foundation for the Next Century: A Pathway to 2025,’ lays out three priorities, assigns goals within each of those and lays out strategies aimed at achieving each of the goals.
The priorities are educating and empowering a diverse student body, enabling creative research and creative activities, and transforming lives and communities through strategic outreach and engaged scholarship.
“It’s always good to be able to say to people, ‘these are the priorities of the university.’”
That’s President Lawrence Schovanec, who became the university’s 17th president in 2016. The new roadmap, he says, was done after reviewing the prior strategic plan, ‘Making it Possible.’ It had been written for a ten-year window ending in 2020.
“I thought it was a time to step back and say, ‘what do we do to solidify our position, as a premiere national research university,’” he says. “And at the same time to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to certain core values of Texas Tech—and that is providing, we now call signature educational experiences for students.”
A committee of 27 faculty and staff members, students and administrators worked for about eight months to craft the new plan. They held a series of town hall meetings and focus groups on campus and in the Lubbock community.
View the plan at here.
Schovanec says the university achieved two of the previous plan’s primary objectives. It now participates in the National University Research Fund, which came about in 2012. And, a more prestigious and major milestone, Texas Tech in 2016 became one of 115 universities nationwide to garner Tier I status in the Carnegie Classification of institutions of Higher Education.
The plan emphasizes that faculty members engage outside the classroom to share their expertise with the community, Schovanec says.
“This strategic plan, one of the things that I’m proud of is, when you look at the researching scholarship, when you look at the areas of outreach and engagement, there’s a reoccurring theme of having an impact outside of the university,” he explains.
Schovanec agreed that faculty making engagement outside of the classroom is not typically part of a university’s educational offerings. But many faculty are enthused about this priority, Schovanec says.
“So if you’re going to go out there and connect what you’re doing, in terms of creative activity, or scholarship, or research, and it may not show up in the most elite journals, or in some way that it counts,” he says. “That will take time.”
The university can contribute information and research on global issues that also exist here: water, energy and security of the grid.
“It’s not detracting from basic research, scholarships at the highest levels, but let’s do things that matter to our society and to our nation,” he say. “Let’s try to address the grand challenges.”
The plan’s priorities prompted a member of the faculty to approach Schovanec with a question. The faculty member pointed out that the first word in the document is “educate,” which apparently bothered him.
“I said these things are not numbered,” Schovanec says. “One doesn’t take priority over the other. And what are we? We are a teaching institution and a research institution.”