When university leaders began thinking about FIU’s next strategic plan two years ago, they knew it had to be different. Higher education was deep in the throes of historic change. The students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders who participated in the planning process viewed it as a chance to embrace the opportunities inherent in this seismic shift.
The result is FIUBeyondPossible2020, the university’s bold vision for the next five years.
Initiated by Provost Kenneth G. Furton and conceived at an important moment in the life of the university, the plan’s focus is on improving student success, identifying and investing in preeminent programs, expanding the research enterprise and enrollment, and achieving greater financial sustainability.
FIUBeyondPossible2020 reflects the input of more than 150 members of the university community. Endorsed by the Board of Trustees in March, it is 68 pages of history and context, strategies and goals. Its powerful message is summed up in two sentences found early in the document: “The plan’s name, FIUBeyondPossible2020, reflects the fact that these are precedent-setting goals. We plan to be the first public, majority-minority research institution to achieve these goals; because in achieving these goals, FIU will better serve our students, faculty, staff and community.”
The plan reaffirms the areas of focus identified in the previous strategic plan: arts, environment, globalization and health. Each of these areas is related to FIU’s mission, and university leaders believe these areas still have potential for significant and sustained growth, as well as myriad opportunities for engagement at the local and global levels.
For the skeptics who believe the plan is too ambitious, Furton has a message: “We’ve done lots of things at FIU that no one thought we could do.”
“The New Normal”
A fundamental difference between this plan and previous plans is the purposeful alignment between FIU’s strategic plan and the Florida Board of Governors’ (BOG) Performance Funding Model, which tracks 10 performance goals and awards dollars based upon each university’s ability to do well in those areas.
“We have a responsibility to make sure that we stay on the edge of responsiveness,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg in January at a town hall meeting to introduce FIUBeyondPossible2020. “The funding will not arrive unless we perform.”
Thirty of 50 states now use performance-funding models, according to Furton, who called the paradigm “the new normal.” The model demands increased accountability and efficiency, focusing on nine metrics on undergraduate student success outcomes and one metric on percentage of graduate degrees in strategic emphasis. Universities are ranked and can potentially receive (or lose) funding based on their score using the BOG model.
A plan is only as good as its implementation, and leaders acknowledge that reaching the goals set forth in FIUBeyondPossible2020 will not be easy. At the January town hall, Rosenberg said
it would require “soul searching” and faculty buy-in. But ultimately, he told attendees, “This is a shared responsibility. No one is exempt.”
The provost has created multiple implementation committees with a steering committee to oversee the process. The initial committee will meet over the course of the summer. Furton appointed Nicole Kaufman Glasgow associate vice provost of operations and strategy implementation to provide leadership in the implementation of the plan moving forward.
Says Furton, “We need everyone to join us in creating a future worthy of FIU. This is the best way that we can be truly worlds ahead for our students and the greater community.”
- Improve the first-to-second-year retention rate of first-time-in-college students from 76 to 90 percent
- Boost six-year graduation rate among first-time-in-college students from 53 to 70 percent
- Increase four-year graduation rate of state college (AA) transfer students from 64 to 70 percent
- Increase enrollment to 65,000, and increase use of digital technologies to enhance face-to-face and distance learning
- Expand experiential learning opportunities for students, to include growing student internships from 4,637 to 6,000 annually
- Increase research expenditures from $130 million annually to $200 million annually
- Increase by 30 percent the number of Ph.D. degrees granted to more than 200 annually
- Nurture an expansion in patents and startups from an average of two per year to 20 annually
- Grow philanthropic giving to achieve the Next Horizon capital campaign goal of $750 million ♦