Strategic Planning

UPDATE 2/17:

This email was sent to all CLAS faculty and staff from Sara Sanders, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, on Monday 2/17:

I invite you to review the DRAFT strategic plan goals, strategies, and critical tasks that CLAS submitted to the Provost’s Office for review: View the draft CLAS strategic plan goals, strategies, and critical tasks.

I would like to thank the members of the CLAS Strategic Planning Committee—under the leadership of co-chairs David Cunning (Philosophy) and Shaun Vecera (Psychological and Brain Sciences)—for their time, dedication, and input to this process, as well as our departments for their thoughtful work and vision. 

Current CLAS Strategic Plan Status

Please note that this draft document does not yet include specific action items, as we want to first get your feedback on the plan's broader goals, strategies, and critical tasks before including the action items that will implement them. We have extensive notes that capture specific action items that faculty, students, and staff introduced in the fall—at the listening sessions and in departmental SWOT and GOALS documents—and those will be woven back into the plan over the next two months.

The goals, strategies, and critical tasks that we are sharing here is what was submitted as a first draft to the Provost on February 3, as was required of each UI college. In further iterations, we will merge the Provost's feedback on the CLAS plan with that of CLAS leadership, faculty, staff, and students.

Upcoming Listening Sessions

In the coming weeks, there will be three listening sessions open to all CLAS faculty, staff, and students to provide feedback on the plan. the committee and I encourage you to come with ideas and suggestions on how the plan can be strengthened. Additionally, we are more than willing to come and meet with other collegiate entities, such as Faculty Assembly or standing committees, to discuss the plan and receive feedback.


  • #1: Friday, February 28, 8:30-10:00, IMU Academics Room (#256)
  • #2: Tuesday, March 24, 11:30-1:00, IMU Big Ten Theatre (#348)
  • #3: Thursday, April 9, 10:15-11:45, IMU Big Ten Theatre (#348)

Online Feedback

If you are unable to come to a listening session, or have further thoughts in addition to attending one, please contribute your ideas via this anonymous survey:

CLAS Strategic Plan Updates

Please note that CLAS strategic planning updates will continue to be made available at

Thank you in advance for your time, feedback, and commitment to our shared future. We look forward to finalizing a plan that will enhance the already great work occurring in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UPDATE 11/27:

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is working on its new five-year strategic plan. The first part of the process is to complete a SWOT analysis in which we compile a list of collegiate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and the final part of the process is to draft the Strategic Plan itself. To that end, the CLAS Strategic Planning Committee (pdf link) invites students, faculty, and staff to participate in the following listening sessions to provide input and perspective:

  • Tuesday, December 3, 12:00-1:30, IMU Big Ten Theatre (348 IMU)
  • Tuesday, December 17, 12:00-2:00, IMU Big Ten Theatre (348 IMU)
  • Wednesday, December 18, 11:00-1:00, IMU Academics Room (256 IMU)
  • Friday, January 24, 12:00-1:30, IMU Big Ten Theatre (348 IMU)

The committee has created an online survey for you to use if you are not able to attend the listening sessions, or if you wish to provide further feedback in addition to attending a session. Please find the anonymous survey here:

Update 10-23:

  • This page features resources related to departmental, collegiate, and university strategic planning.
  • Dean Goddard led a kickoff meeting of DEOs and departmental strategic planning representatives on October 7; he also led a strategic planning workshop with this group on October 21.
  • Dean Goddard will lead a workshop with this group on November 4 about defining departmental values and missions, as part of the strategic planning process.


Added: CLAS Strategic Planning Resources 2019 (See this link for timelines, committee information, current plans, and workshop information.)

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and each of its departments are deeply committed to excellence and impact in their teaching, research, and engagement. Too often, however, collegiate administrators, DEOs, faculty, and staff are so preoccupied with the day-to-day operational needs of their unit that they are unable to focus on developing long-term strategic goals for guiding their work.

In addition, because departments have had little autonomous decision-making authority in allocating fiscal resources, they have often been unable to align their spending with their strategic priorities. Conversely, because the Dean's Office has often been focused on managing departmental affairs, collegiate administrators have been unable to set and drive long-term planning for the college that can align with, build upon, and support departmental strategies.

Empowering strategic thinking at both the collegiate and departmental levels is a key goal of Driving Excellence and Impact, the series of operational changes being implemented by Dean Steve Goddard and the Dean's Office in collaboration with CLAS departments. Through concerted strategic planning at all levels, the Dean's Office and each department can develop a collective vision in response to thorough examination of questions like:

  • What are our current strengths?
  • What are our aspirational strengths, and why?
  • How do we compare with and differentiate from peer programs at other institutions?
  • How best can we partner with other departments and disciplines within CLAS and the University of Iowa to provide unexpected, unique programs?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • What are our "destination programs," with national reputations for their excellence and impact on their discipline, our students, and society?
  • What changes are necessary in order to build and sustain destination programs, while also maintaining high-quality curricula and programs that are foundational for the discipline?
  • How will we know when we've succeeded in reaching our strategic goals?

Once we have engaged with these types of questions and developed a singular strategic vision for CLAS and each department, the Dean's Office and DEOs can begin to make budgetary, staffing, and other operational decisions designed to achieve those long-term goals.

The Dean's Office is committed to helping DEOs and their departments learn effective strategic-planning techniques that will help them develop an aspirational and actionable vision for their units as well as operational plans for supporting that vision.