University of Delaware

Strategic planning

Models for New American Research University working group reports progress

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4:56 p.m., Dec. 17, 2014--The University of Delaware strategic planning working group focusing on Models for the New American Research University has held town hall meetings and met with faculty, staff and students from a wide range of campus units and organizations over the past few months.

“I’ve been impressed by how engaged the community has been in this process,” says Kristi Kiick, deputy dean of engineering. Kiick co-chairs the group, with Matt Kinservik, vice provost for faculty affairs. 

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“We’ve gotten important input from every area of the University,” Kiick says. “We have a great opportunity to create the kind of institutional flexibility that allows our faculty, staff and students to take risks and make productive changes in how we do things.”

The working group has heard and received suggestions across a broad range of topics. Here are a few examples: 

  • Make an institutional commitment to fostering high-quality hybrid instruction (online and face-to-face) and provide the IT infrastructure to support course development and redevelopment along those lines.
  • Establish an experimental college with the freedom to innovate in different course formats and individualized interdisciplinary majors.
  • Require an e-portfolio of all undergraduate students, connecting the first-year experience and co-curricular activities to their major field of study and career preparation.
  • Better develop the relationship with Delaware Technical Community College and Delaware State University to serve Delaware residents and maximize each institution’s strengths.
  • Improve housing options for graduate students.
  • Create a “problem bounty” board to which members of the community can post a problem and solicit creative answers.

"We have all sensed that there is a lot of energy and appetite for innovation and change on this campus,” notes Kinservik. “That’s very promising because we’ve arrived at a moment that really demands new thinking and a commitment to innovation and experimentation in higher ed."

According to Kiick and Kinservik, each of this working group’s four subgroups — Academic Organization; Curriculum and Delivery; Resource Analysis; and Infrastructure — researched the areas they were assigned during the past summer.

Early in fall semester, the subgroups developed a set of focal questions to organize their work, and since that time they’ve been meeting with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and other University partners. 

Each subgroup is now synthesizing its research and community input and will develop concept papers on thematic action items. After a daylong vision conference in early February, the working group will create a comprehensive report for the Delaware Will Shine Executive Committee, Kiick and Kinservik said.

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