RISD is in the midst of developing its next strategic plan, with the goal of formally launching a new plan in 2019. You’ll find details about the process and timeline below.
Please contact the Office of Integrated Planning with questions about strategic planning at RISD.
RISD’s last strategic plan, Critical Making | Making Critical, established goals and initiatives that would guide institutional activities and priorities from 2012–17. The process for our comprehensive reaccreditation (which occurs every 10 years) launched in 2014—at about the midpoint of the last plan. Given institutional capacity and transitions, RISD leaders decided to postpone the next planning process until the accreditation self-study was completed and recommendations received from the visiting team. The self-study process provided an opportunity to both reflect on what was accomplished in the last plan and identify needs for the next plan. Aligning both processes supports RISD’s commitment to integrated planning and building a culture of ongoing planning, evaluation and improvement.
In the fall of 2016, RISD launched the official strategic planning process at campus-wide sessions held during Development Days in November, posing the following questions to the community:
1. What is a RISD student now and in the future?
2. What are the advancements we should consider now and in the future?
Faculty and staff attendees worked in small, cross-institutional groups to respond to these prompts from President Somerson and to the data presented at the opening session. Members of the President’s Cabinet then used these responses to begin to identify key themes.
Human Resources staff members conducted a values exercise at the Administrative Managers meeting. Responses from the breakout groups formed the basis of similar exercises by the Cabinet.
A Strategic Planning Core Committee composed of faculty and staff began work in spring 2017 to further explore the external context and landscape of higher education, and to identify and sort the emergent themes from prior work that would form the framework of the strategic plan.
The major themes developed by the SP Core Committee were expanded by Provost Sharma and working groups (see full list below) were convened to respond to specific prompts and questions ranging from academic advising to scheduling, wellness, workflow and more, and to discuss potential new research and interdisciplinary spaces.
The provost distilled and organized reports and recommendations from the working groups and shared a draft of the Academic Plan with the academic community. Throughout the spring, the Provost’s Office convened a series of listening tours—including an Academic Town Hall and a Presidential Town Hall—to encourage faculty and staff feedback on the proposed plan.
Over the summer, the Cabinet and Deans Council identified institutional priorities, working to:
- integrate the reports of 21 working groups, the Academic Plan, Cabinet goals and other institutional plans (Social Equity and Inclusion, Campus Master Plan, projections from the accreditation self-study and areas of focus assigned by our accreditors)
- respond, and when possible, address community feedback from the spring listening tours
- prioritize initiatives and model necessary resources, develop awareness of possible impediments
- develop a fundraising plan that supports our strategic priorities
- establish a sustainable, five-year financial plan
These priorities are open enough to leverage the creativity and vitality of our faculty, staff and students so that as a community RISD can identify the specific initiatives and strategies that will comprise the final plan. At this phase, we are calling this “strategic directions,” rather than a plan because the goals and initiatives included in the draft are broad and thematic.
This fall RISD leaders will reconvene the Strategic Planning Core Committee and encourage the community to participate in a series of forums to present responses to the draft strategic directions. Three Town Hall sessions (for faculty, staff and students) are being planned, along with meetings with standing committees and smaller groups across campus. Members of the campus community will also be encouraged to provide comments via an online survey.
The draft strategic directions will be presented for review to the Board of Trustees at their October 2018 meeting.
The Cabinet and Deans’ Council will then revise the initial draft based on community input and continue modeling the necessary resources and identifying key metrics of success. The final plan will be presented to the trustees for approval at their February meeting.
Once trustees approve the plan, the Cabinet and Deans’ Council will create a high-level institutional implementation plan to guide all responsible areas. Detailed action and tactical implementation plans will be developed by each responsible area. The institutional implementation plan and high-level progress dashboards will be shared with the community in the spring of 2019 and the plan will launch at the start of the new fiscal year in July.
1. Why is this called Strategic Directions instead of a Strategic Plan?
At this phase in the process we are thinking of these as a set of “strategic directions,” rather than a strategic plan because the goals and initiatives included in the draft remain broad and thematic. Over the summer, we identified priorities open enough to leverage the creativity and vitality of our faculty, staff and students so that as a community we can identify the specific initiatives and strategies that will comprise the final plan. This fall, input from the community and budget modeling will help us to do the following:
- Specify the initiatives and strategies that will support the high-level objectives
- Identify metrics to assess the success of these initiatives/strategies
- Further prioritize and distill the plan to ensure our goals are achievable
2. What was the process for drafting the Strategic Directions?
Over the past two years, RISD has engaged the community through the creation of the Strategic Planning Core Committee (composed of faculty and staff), Development Days, 21 working groups, President’s Town Halls, administrative managers meetings, an academic listening tour and the development of multi-year business plans for Cabinet-level divisions.
Over the summer, the Cabinet and Dean’s Council worked together to develop the first outline, integrating reports and feedback from the various groups and applying the following planning principles:
- Approach decision making with a bias for action and use data to inform decisions when appropriate
- Model resources (financial, human, physical) to identify priorities and what can be realistically achieved
- Articulate clear rationale for what is eliminated or postponed to the next planning cycle
- Develop measurable goals, assign metrics and identify who is accountable
3. Many of these goals were in the last strategic plan but weren’t fulfilled. How will you ensure that the goals in the next plan are reached?
Unlike the last plan, Critical Making | Making Critical, this strategic plan will have a five-year implementation plan that sequences action steps, dependencies and resources needed to achieve our goals as well as assigns accountability and metrics to measure success.
The strategic plan will be a guide map for the next five years at RISD. It can—and most likely will—change as the world changes around us. We will be self-reflective, transparent, and open as we annually assess our progress and and respond to any new or emerging priorities.
4. Much of this plan will require new resources and money. Where will the funding and resources come from?
The Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration is working closely with Cabinet and Dean’s Council to model the budget that will support the strategic plan. Funding will come from a combination of sources—strategic enrollment growth, new revenue opportunities, more effective workflows and processes and increased fundraising capacity. This plan is meant to be selective, not only additive, to enable us to meet our greatest ambitions without burdening our human and financial resources, and most importantly, to keep tuition increases as low as possible.
5. Why don’t I see all of the results of my working group or comments from feedback sessions reflected in this plan?
This version reflects high-level priorities that will guide the institution forward over the next five years. The initiatives and goals that are incorporated into the final plan will reflect specific working group recommendations and community feedback as prioritized by Academic Affairs. And while the final plan cannot include all recommendations, it will not preclude divisional or departmental plans from being developed or implemented. It should be noted, however, that all planning should be in broad support of the priorities identified in the final Strategic Plan.
6. How will the final plan be scaled and prioritized?
As we gather input from the community throughout the fall, we will also be developing budget models to support the goals and initiatives. This is in alignment with one of our planning principles: Model resources (financial, human, physical) and make hard decisions about what stays in the plan and what goes.
7. What happened to the Academic Plan?
The highest priorities of the Academic Plan were identified by the Dean’s Council with the Cabinet and are represented in the plan. The Academic Plan was a distillation of the working group reports and was further refined as it was integrated into the overarching institutional priorities. You’ll see elements of the Academic Plan reflected throughout the strategic plan. It’s important to note that the strategic plan will be an institutional plan and that business unit leaders have their own plans that complement and support the strategic plan.
8. What happened to the SEI plan?
Our Social Equity and Inclusion Action Plan is not the work of one person or office and should not simply be a section of our strategic plan. Instead we have embedded its principles throughout the plan so that it becomes core to institutional systems and values in order to effect lasting transformation.
9. How will you incorporate community feedback into the final draft?
In addition to academic, student, and staff town halls, members of Cabinet and Dean’s Council will meet with individuals and groups around campus to hear feedback first-hand. We will send a survey to the community to prioritize the goals and initiatives that will help us make decisions about what’s in the final plan and inform the implementation plan.
10. What are the next steps for writing the final draft?
This fall, RISD leadership has reconvened the Strategic Planning Core Committee and encourages the community to participate in a series of forums to present responses to the draft strategic directions. The strategic directions will be presented for review to the Board of Trustees at their October 2018 meeting. The Cabinet + Deans Council will revise the initial draft based on community input and budget modeling. The final plan will be presented to the Trustees for approval at their February meeting.
11. What is the plan for implementation?
Upon approval by the Trustees, the Cabinet and Deans Council will develop a high-level institutional implementation plan, which will guide all responsible areas. Detailed action and tactical implementation plans will be developed by by each responsible area. The institutional implementation plan and high-level progress dashboards will be shared with the community in the spring of 2019. As the final plan and multi-year budget are approved by the Board, resources identified to fund initiatives that will launch in year one, will be part of the FY20 budget.
Maggie Balch, Dean of Students
Patricia Barbeito, Interim Associate Provost + Dean of Faculty
Daniel Cavicchi, Interim Provost
David Frazer, Professor, Painting
Sarah Ganz Blythe, Deputy Director, Exhibitions, Education & Programs, RISD Museum
Shawn Greenlee, Associate Professor, EFS
Mara Hermano, Vice President of Integrated Planning
Carl Lostritto, Assistant Professor, Architecture
Andy Martinez, Archivist
Margot Nishimura, Interim Dean of Libraries
Jorge Paricio, Senior Critic, Industrial Design
David Proulx, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration
Lisi Raskin, Associate Professor + Department Head, Sculpture
Matthew Shenoda, Vice President of Social Equity and Inclusion
Emily Vogler, Assistant Professor + Department Head, Landscape Architecture
CE, EE, Museum
Center for Teaching + Learning
Student Health + Wellness
Workflow + Process