Washington University in St. Louis has unveiled its strategic plan, setting a bold and ambitious path for the next decade. Called “Here and Next,” the plan represents the university’s 10-year strategic vision and was developed through a process that included 18 months of listening, outreach and work sessions, and incorporating feedback from thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners.
“Here and Next is the result of an extraordinary effort, led by Provost Beverly Wendland, which involved a varied and large group of university community members,” said Chancellor Andrew D. Martin. “It’s a progression of our shared commitment to advance our education, research and patient care.”
“We plan to establish the university and our home, St. Louis, as a global hub for transformative solutions. Each member of the WashU community will have a part in cementing this success, and I’m excited to get started.”
Five guiding principles informed the development and eventual vision for Here and Next: academic distinction; community impact; global perspective; equity, diversity and inclusion; and stewardship. Its aims are firmly centered on three areas of focus:
Research that sets a global standard
WashU will advance its research excellence, further deepening areas of strength while displaying the nimbleness to lead in emerging fields. The university will expand its capacity and create new avenues for all faculty to collaboratively meet their research goals.
Investments in our people
WashU aims to be the ideal place for all students, faculty and staff to pursue and achieve their goals. Curriculum will evolve so all students can thrive, faculty will be supported to the fullest, and there will be a distinct focus on advancing personal and professional growth, leadership, access, well-being and equity for the entire campus community.
The good of every neighbor
WashU is committed to St. Louis, the place it calls home. The interventions and advancement developed here will be applied at scale globally, just as the university’s global work will inform practices in the region. WashU’s community presence will stand on deep engagement and earned trust and will contribute to a more vibrant region with a focus on St. Louis’ racial inequities, economic mobility and educational opportunity.
“Here and Next represents the culmination of what was truly a collaborative, cross-campus process. So many members of our community contributed their creativity, effort and deep thinking to the development of our strategic vision. As we transform vision into action, we will continue to draw upon the talents and ideas of this remarkable community,” Wendland said. “We’re poised to create a meaningful, enduring impact for our university, our region and our world.”
“My connections to this great university span four decades, and I am confident that the next 10 years will be transformative ones for Washington University,” said Andrew Bursky, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. “The stage is set at WashU for a new era of excellence. I am especially excited to see all the ways that students — undergraduate, graduate, medical and those pursuing professional development — will benefit from execution of the vision laid out in this strategic plan.”
Here and Next also commits to forging meaningful relationships in the St. Louis region, advancing outcomes in the community, and providing world-class patient care for all residents in collaboration with hospital partner BJC HealthCare.
“At Washington University, we are proud of our rich history of breakthrough research, excellent medical care and outstanding education of future clinicians, scientists and leaders,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “I am inspired by Here and Next, and the School of Medicine’s place in it, as we work toward a healthier community for all of us.”
Here and Next will drive many major initiatives during the next decade, including:
School of Public Health
The university will address threats to public health and well-being with a new school dedicated to driving equitable, evidence-based, scalable solutions that can be deployed here in St. Louis, as well as globally. It will also train the next leaders in the field to be innovative and nimble.
Institute for Digital Transformation
From biomedical science to the humanities, the world uses cutting-edge computational tools to advance discovery and solutions. WashU’s Institute for Digital Transformation will convene and expand the activities of both faculty and students working in digital domains and assist in leveraging solutions to address a wide range of issues, including artificial intelligence and human interaction, computational-assisted therapeutic approaches, social sciences and even agriculture.
Center for the Environment
WashU has deep research strength in fields important to the study of the environment and climate change, including biodiversity and aerosols. Convening these areas of excellence along with WashU’s commitment to environmental justice will form a more collaborative, cohesive effort to advance its strengths to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. While the center will allow WashU researchers to further pursue emergent environmental research, it will also expand community partnerships and support interdisciplinary educational initiatives.
St. Louis Teaching and Research
WashU will become the leading model for how a university can partner with and support local communities and, in the process, will help to build a more vibrant, equitable future for the St. Louis region. Working with existing community groups and institutional partners, WashU will aim to be a conduit for collaborative, engaged teaching, learning and research that supports increased opportunity and advancement for everyone.
“With our vision statement, we aim to generate transformative solutions to the deepest societal challenges. These four initiatives will require significant time, effort and resources to develop. And that investment is worth it. Our innovative approaches in these areas will render our university even more distinct and contribute to a more vibrant, healthier region and world,” Wendland said.
See yourself Here and Next
Advancing Here and Next will involve WashU faculty, students and staff in a number of ways. First, the entire WashU community is invited to a series of in-person and webinar events taking place through October that will address and explain various components of Here and Next.
Dozens of special events, including the university’s long-standing Assembly Series, will take place during the 2022-23 academic year. These events — all designed to further promote and support the plan — will be announced on the Here and Next website.
More than a dozen new committees comprising faculty, staff, students and other members of the WashU community and beyond are forming to advance the plan’s components. Faculty seed grants also will be available to advance research laddering up to Here and Next. They include the new William H. Danforth St. Louis Confluence Awards, which are designed to elevate WashU’s investment in the St. Louis region by encouraging and rewarding faculty research that enhances the university’s impact in St. Louis. Other seed grants are also planned.
Students — and prospective students — also feature prominently in Here and Next. During the next 10 years, the university will dig even deeper to further center excellence in undergraduate, graduate, professional and medical education. One big first step: a new WashU student initiative launching later this week.
The plan also commits to investing in all of WashU’s people — faculty, staff and students — by promoting a culture that stresses healthy excellence and helps them realize their goals, regardless of life stage or prior experience.
“Greatness stands upon a precipice,” said Shantay Bolton, executive vice chancellor for administration and chief administrative officer. “The challenges facing our region and world have presented WashU with an incredible opportunity. Through Here and Next, we can offer additive contributions in ways that positively shape the lives and experiences of our people and our community — through the core missions and with St. Louis. The administrative areas will be fiercely and intentionally focused on cultivating leaders, creating an inclusive employee experience and elevating operational effectiveness in order to realize the goals set forth in the strategic plan.”
A reimagined Assembly Series
Under Here and Next, the university’s Assembly Series will be reimagined to bring in high-profile renowned speakers to discuss areas of focus outlined in the strategic plan. The Sept. 30 panel, which featured WashU alumnae Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Morgan DeBaun speaking on justice and equity, was one such example, as is Jane Goodall’s upcoming talk Oct. 9 about a more sustainable world for us all. To learn more about these events, which are free and open to all, visit the Happenings page.
Moving from Here to Next
The formation of Here and Next was a lengthy and complex process, requiring input and support from many people across the WashU community. As the university launches its vision and outlines its 10-year aspirations through the plan, the path to implementation will also take time, effort and focus.
“I want to thank everyone who contributed to Here and Next. I’m excited for our community to celebrate the work of their peers. This isn’t a plan that’s going to live on a shelf — it’s one that our community will join together in bringing to life,” Wendland said. “There’s plenty of work ahead to advance from Here to Next. We invite all faculty, students and staff to find their place in this plan. We want you to take this journey with us during the next decade at WashU, because the actions we take now will shape our university for generations to come.”
Learn more about Here and Next, including outlines of all initiatives, areas of focus and how you can participate, here.