A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

September 19, 2016

Dean Larson with EPIC campers and future engineers.

Dean Larson with EPIC campers and future engineers.

The start of the academic year is always exciting with energetic students returning; faculty members polishing their syllabi and course materials; and the groundskeepers, custodians and facilities workers buffing the university’s physical plant. They literally repaint the street lines for bike lanes and crosswalks.

Likewise, the college leadership team — our department and program chairs, assistant and associate deans, key administrative managers and directors, and me — finalizes the strategic plan for the coming year. We draw the lines around the goals and key actions that will guide nearly every decision we make as an institution.

Done right, strategic planning is a detailed, months-long process that involves the faculty, staff and administration. Inclusion of these 300 or so individuals may sound cumbersome, but it’s very important to recognize that we all have a stake in planning the future of the college. Moreover, I strongly believe that we have a great team of leaders who are able to balance their role as unit advocates against the inherent interdependencies and needs of the college.

Our process looked like this:

• We surveyed the college regarding our 2016-17 directions and actions at the collegewide meeting on June 7.
• The leadership team reviewed the survey results on July 14.
• Discussion groups identified and prioritized action items on July 27.
• We reviewed the discussion results and edited statements on August 16.
• A plan was drafted August 23.
• The plan was again reviewed and refined, and the leadership team voted on the College of Engineering areas of distinction at our retreat on Sept. 13.

I’m proud of our finished product, which you can view here: Strategic Directions. This document not only communicates our priorities and highlights our strengths to all our constituents, including students, parents, alumni and corporate and foundation partners, but it also motivates us to act coherently and strategically.

I hope you take a moment to read the College of Engineering 2016-17 Strategic Plan. It tells you a lot about who we are and where we’re going. In fact, ABET, the engineering accreditation agency, said this about our plan:

“The Cal Poly College of Engineering strategic plan and directions demonstrate exemplary forward thinking and proactive planning. The concise plan provides a vision and creates an environment where the entire faculty and student body can work toward common goals for continuous improvement, which enriches the undergraduate educational experience.”

With student success as our guiding principal and strong lines delineating our path forward, I foresee a tremendous year of accomplishment ahead!

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