Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences Releases Long-Range Strategic Plan

A&Spire report cover image copyWACO, Texas (Sept. 12, 2014) – After two years of planning that included the active participation of its senior administration and deans, department chairs, faculty and staff, the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences today released a long-range strategic plan titled A&Spire: Acts of Determination in Support of Baylor University Pro Futuris.

As reflected in the title, A&Spire is intended to guide the College of Arts & Sciences in helping to achieve the goals expressed in Pro Futuris, the University’s 10-year strategic vision approved by Baylor Regents in May 2012.

“The College of Arts & Sciences has desired a coherent plan of action in the form of a strategic plan for some time,” said Lee C. Nordt, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Pro Futuris was the catalyst that led us to the creation of our A&Spire plan.”

Nordt said the strategic plan process began by identifying the key initiatives present in Pro Futuris. The dean then appointed committees of faculty and staff, charging them with exploring five major themes within Arts & Sciences corresponding to Pro Futuris and proposing initiatives related to those themes.

In the completed A&Spire strategic plan, Theme 1 looks at ways to advance liberal education. It recognizes the importance of undergraduate students at Baylor and the critically important role Arts & Sciences plays in providing a mission-centered and core-driven education through cutting-edge approaches.

A&Spire directs us to seriously assess and promote the many facets of undergraduate education,” Nordt said. “The College of Arts & Sciences provides the important core curriculum not only for our own students, but for all students at Baylor. However, higher education and the needs of students are constantly changing. We need to be sensitive to that in how we shape the knowledge base, character and well-being of our students by making use of cutting-edge technology and modern methods of instruction.”

Theme 2 of A&Spire examines the part the College of Arts & Sciences will play to further Baylor’s goal of becoming a nationally recognized research institution. It emphasizes the need to accelerate first-rate faculty scholarship with the help of graduate and undergraduate students, and acknowledges that Arts & Sciences will continue to create cross-disciplinary collaborations between the sciences and the humanities.

“We cannot forget the importance of research in elevating Baylor’s standing in the academic community,” Nordt said.

Theme 3 calls for the College of Arts & Sciences to strengthen its engagement with the community. It recognizes the need to improve communications, both internally on campus and externally among alumni and others, concerning the valuable clinical services and outreach Arts & Sciences provides and the many culturally relevant activities it offers. These include theatre productions, lectures, exhibits, publications and online resources.

Theme 4 surveys the timely topic of investing in the health sciences. It recognizes the importance of healthcare to the Baylor brand and the central role that Arts & Sciences plays in maintaining the University’s reputation for excellence, since Arts & Sciences houses the prehealth program, serves most of Baylor’s prehealth majors and conducts much of the University’s research at the graduate level in health and health-related disciplines.

The final section of A&Spire, Theme 5, proposes strategies to fund Arts & Sciences initiatives and addresses methods to diversify the ways resources will be procured.

A&Spire will improve the College of Arts & Sciences in many ways, but it runs deeper than that,” Nordt said. “We are Baylor’s oldest and largest academic unit. By successfully completing our own long-range plans, we will play a major role in helping Baylor University to achieve the admirable goals set forth in Pro Futuris.”

David E. Garland, Ph.D., interim provost, said A&Spire will make an important contribution to the University.

“The College of Arts & Sciences has prepared an exciting, challenging, and farsighted long-range strategic plan. I greatly appreciate all those who contributed to its development and the faculty and staff who will help to make it a rousing success in its implementation,” Garland said. “This plan reveals the College’s investment in providing the best education possible for its students while bolstering the faculty’s significant contribution in making Baylor a premier research university.”

Truell Hyde, Ph.D., vice provost for research, said strategic plans such as Pro Futuris and A&Spire provide calls to action for a university community, reaching audiences from regents to community stakeholders to alumni.

“While administrators can develop strategies and establish supporting frameworks, the elements required to successfully navigate from vision to reality will always be faculty research and scholarship,” Hyde said. “The Acts of Determination within A&Spire, produced with the guidance of College of Arts & Sciences faculty, bear witness that Baylor’s greatest days are ahead.”

“I commend the College of Arts & Sciences for creating this remarkable, inspirational, visionary planning document,” said Larry Lyon, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School, said. “Graduate education will be especially enhanced by the Acts of Determination associated with Theme 2 [to help Baylor become a nationally recognized research institution]. I look forward to working with Dean Nordt and his colleagues in implementing this ambitious plan.”

The complete text of A&Spire is available online.

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