Council's "December" meeting, held November 29, was devoted to a Public Forum which will be reported in detail in the December 12 issue. The following was presented by President Judith Rodin before the opening of the Forum.

President to Council: Comment by December 8 on Agenda for Excellence

Last week, the administration and the Academic Planning and Budget Committee published for comment in Almanac a draft strategic planning document entitled Agenda for Excellence. I would like to devote my report today to this plan. I also want to encourage every member of the University community to read it, consider it, and share their comments with the Academic Planning and Budget Committee over the next few weeks. Extra copies are available near the door.

Agenda for Excellence is the joint product of the President, the Provost, and the Academic Planning and Budget Committee. In addition, the deans and the senior officers of the University contributed heavily to the initial draft of the plan. It also attempts to incorporate many of the insights we have gained from our conversations with faculty and students over the past year, as we have worked through major initiatives, such as the 21st Century Project and administrative restructuring. Throughout this process, the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, which includes faculty, undergraduate, and graduate student representatives, has played a central role in shaping and refining the plan. I want to take this opportunity to strongly endorse and commend their efforts.

While time does not permit me to review in detail all of the specific goals and strategic initiatives that form the substance of this plan, allow me to highlight a few features that are of paramount importance.

First, Agenda for Excellence places strategic planning within the context of the University's mission.That is an a priori truth about which the Provost and I feel very strongly: Strategic planning is not an exercise in tabulating wish lists or identifying incremental improvements. It is an effort to identify the critical tasks that this University must undertake in the next five years to fulfill its most fundamental commitments. Those commitments are to comprehensive excellence in teaching, research, and service to society. Simply put, in the words of the first goal in Agenda for Excellence, Penn is committed to being "one of the premier research and teaching universities in the nation and in the world." Every other goal and initiative in the plan may be viewed as a means of helping Penn achieve this first, preeminent goal.

Each is intended to contribute towards clearly establishing Penn as one of the small number of genuinely outstanding universities in the 21st century.

A quick summary of the nine major goals clarifies what is meant:

Each of these goals will help us achieve our preeminent, first goal. Each also is amplified by a series of specific strategic initiatives. These initiatives--plus others that may be suggested by the University community-- will help Penn achieve the strategic vision I have just summarized.

Before closing, let me also say one further word about the draft mission statement at the beginning of Agenda for Excellence. The mission statement is an effort to highlight the particular attributes and aspirations of Penn that seem most important. It mentions Penn's missions as an urban institution and as a provider of both professional and lifelong education.

It renews Penn's commitments to the close linkage of theory and practice in teaching and research; to diversity among its students, faculty and staff; to the free and reasoned interplay of ideas; to the strengthening of its linkages with alumni and friends; to the betterment of its West Philadelphia community; to the human potential of every member of its faculty, staff, and student body; and to humane values.

Like the goals and initiatives in Agenda for Excellence, the mission statement is a draft, and I hope any of you who are inspired to do so will send in comments on it. Following the comment period called for in Almanac [comment is due by December 8], Agenda for Excellence will return to the Academic Planning and Budget Committee for any revision that is necessary.

Then, it will become the framework in which we will ask each of the schools to review or develop their own strategic plans during the spring term. By the end of this academic year, we hope to have created a coordinated series of strategic plans at the school and University levels that will guide Penn to eminence in the 21st century.

I ask each of you to read Agenda for Excellence carefully and to share your comments with the Academic Planning and Budget Committee at the mail or e-mail addresses given at the beginning and end of the report.


Tuesday, December 5, 1995
Volume 42 Number 14

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