What's Your Strategy: Understanding the Mission of the Office of the Provost

As provost, I quite often hear the question, “What is your strategy?” The good thing is that there is an answer! Georgia Tech is one of the few institutions of higher learning that in fact has a well-articulated Strategic Plan, which was unveiled back in 2010. “Designing the Future” is a coherent statement with a 25-year vision that frames all we do. It is a touchstone that, although not static, is fairly robust in its basic statements of aspirations and overarching goals. The role of leadership, at all levels, is to translate this strategic plan into specific strategies and action items with medium- and short-term horizons. The Office of the Provost is no exception.

Building from Designing the Future, the Office of the Provost articulates its mission as:

“To advance learning through teaching and research by providing the leadership, support, and services that enable the personal and intellectual growth of our students, faculty, staff, and the academic community”

The Institute’s five strategic goals are:

  1. Be among the most highly respected technology-focused learning Institutions in the world.
  2. Sustain and enhance excellence in scholarship and research.
  3. Ensure that innovation, entrepreneurship, and public service are fundamental characteristics of our graduates.
  4. Expand our global footprint and influence to ensure that we are graduating good global citizens.
  5. Relentlessly pursue institutional effectiveness.

Throughout the years the Office of the Provost has used several strategies in support of the above goals. Among them I can highlight:

  1. One Georgia Tech: Emphasize that our distinctiveness and strength lie in a centrality of technology, science, and engineering in all we do, and that all disciplines and initiatives work together toward the common goal of institutional excellence and leadership.
  2. Actively pursue the best students to create a diverse student body that is second to none and distinctive in its professionalism, resiliency, and sense of purpose. (I will expand upon those characteristics in a future blog.)
  3. Increase the size of our graduate program and seek across-the-board excellence. Strengthen and augment our reach to professionals seeking advanced studies.
  4. Diversify our degree formats and delivery without sacrificing quality. Be leaders in new pedagogical methodologies and technology use in education.
  5. Differentiate our undergraduate education through the pursuit of “Design with a capital D” and “Entrepreneurship with a capital E” as a mantra in all undergraduate education. Provide a unique physical environment for learning by bringing together a diverse (in all senses of the word) student body.
  6. Strategically expand our global presence by sending our students abroad, developing programs with key partners in key locations, and inviting the world to Atlanta.
  7. Have the most satisfied and happy student body by promoting quality experiences, improved student-faculty interaction, open and civilized discourse, and the best professional development and employment opportunities.

All our long-, mid-, and short-term objectives support those strategies, as do our annual tactics and action items. For example, development of the Engineering Biosystems Building and its neighborhoods achieves Goal 1.

The campaign for increased financial aid such as the Tech Promise Program and the Stamps President’s Scholars Program, along with the move to the Common App and the forthcoming Coalition App, greater diversifies the student body, as stated in Goal 2.

The creation of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development has resulted in enrollment growth in our graduate programs, as set forth in Goal 3. The Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS) and the forthcoming online analytics program (OMS Analytics) are evidence of Goal 4.

The various maker spaces pioneered by the schools of Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and the forthcoming one in Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as building on the InVenture prize success with the ACC competition of the same name — these are ways we are differentiating our undergraduate education experience, achieving Goal 5.

Ongoing new efforts in China and Panama are just two of ways we are expanding our global presence, the core of Goal 6.

Lastly, the Task Force on the Learning Environment is recommending ways to increase civility, collegiality, and respect among our students and faculty, creating the quality experiences each member of our community deserves, promoting the tenets of Goal 7.

These are just a few examples, and our work continues as we design the future. In summary, we do have a viable and successful strategy. There is logic to the madness!

More to come.

Rafael L. Bras



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