Five years ago our community came together to develop our first strategic plan in nearly two decades, Forward Thinking. This effort involved literally dozens of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends from across the campus – and, in some cases, around the world.

We are in the final year of implementation of that ambitious plan, and can point to substantial gains across several of its priorities. Internationalization, diversity, development and interdisciplinary cooperation all have advanced significantly since the plan's adoption, even as other areas not emphasized explicitly- in particular, undergraduate enrollment– have experienced their own impressive achievements.

Our task now is to chart Case Western Reserve's next phase of progress. We begin in a context far different from when we began the previous planning effort. The economic downturn has heightened concerns over the affordability and value of university degrees. Globalization has accelerated its already rapid pace, and the proliferation of online degree programs and open learning platforms poses dramatic new challenges for all of higher education.

We face a climate that is far more complex and uncertain than five years ago. Yet we do so as a community that is measurably stronger, wiser and far more collaborative. We will use Forward Thinking as the foundation for our next five-year vision and plan, but we also will keep a broader horizon in mind. Case Western Reserve marks its bicentennial in 2026 and this next plan must position our university to celebrate that milestone as a place of innovation, intellectual vitality and national academic leadership.

These are high aspirations. Moving toward them will require wisdom, realism and insight. To that end, we again will draw on our greatest strength – our community. As in 2007-2008, we will engage individuals across the campus and our broader communities. After consultation with deans, the Faculty Senate, the Staff Advisory Council and other groups, we will convene a Strategic Plan Steering Committee composed of faculty, students, staff and alumni, and in turn launch individual working groups to concentrate specifically on some of the plan's key elements. In the coming weeks and months we will conduct multiple open forums to provide information and updates and hear your thoughts about the university's future. We also will provide online opportunities to learn more about the process, and to submit comments electronically. We will distribute our draft plan widely in the early spring, with an ultimate goal of submitting a final document to the Board of Trustees by the end of the academic year.

This process allows us to reflect upon lessons learned from the past five years, and to consider how we best can make our campus distinct among comprehensive private research universities. Its success depends on the quality of our ideas and the intensity of our enthusiasm. I urge you to take an active role in this effort, and thank you in advance for your participation.

Sincerely,

W.A. "Bud" Baeslack III
Provost and Executive Vice President

The 2013-2018 strategic plan, Think Beyond the Possible is now available. Click here to access document.