Leaders provide update, next steps on ‘Here and Next’

The “Here and Next” strategic plan has moved forward with the establishment of 17 committees, which will offer expertise and perspectives to begin turning the vision into measurable progress. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University)

Washington University in St. Louis’ strategic vision, “Here and Next,” is moving into its next phase: implementation planning.

“I am so grateful for the time, effort and creativity that our community has put into this process,” Provost Beverly Wendland said. “Now, it’s time to translate our vision into action. I am thrilled that Mary McKay, vice provost of interdisciplinary initiatives, will chair our implementation planning process. Mary’s collaborative, people-centric approach will ensure that we continue to reflect the perspectives of all members of our community as we build out our shared vision and action plan.”

The strategic vision represents the perspectives of over 2,000 people, which were translated into an articulation of WashU’s future, “Here and Next.” When “Here and Next” officially launched, thousands of WashU students, faculty and staff gathered at campus events to celebrate, and more than 3,000 people participated in the “Here and Next” event series.

‘The weeks since the launch of “Here and Next” have been the most exciting in my career.’

Provost Beverly Wendland

“The weeks since the launch of ‘Here and Next’ have been the most exciting in my career,” Wendland said. “I feel so fortunate to have connected with so many members of our WashU community. So many tell me how proud they are of WashU and the lives we change through our work. And so many believe that we have the potential, and the obligation, to drive even greater impact. With ‘Here and Next,’ we can do just that.”

Wendland, who led the strategic planning process, will continue as the executive sponsor for implementation planning. “Here and Next” has moved forward by establishing 17 committees, composed of more than 140 individuals from all eight schools, who will offer their expertise and perspectives to begin turning the vision into measurable progress. In addition to the initiatives led by the newly formed committees and their faculty chairs, Vice Provosts Jen Smith, Kia Caldwell and Vijay Ramani are making progress in their respective areas of undergraduate education, faculty development and doctoral education.

Executive Vice Chancellor Shantay Bolton, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Anna Gonzalez and University College Dean Sean Armstrong will drive forward initiatives in staff and operations, the student experience, and University College, respectively.

“This next phase of planning and implementation requires an influx of new perspectives, expertise and leadership,” McKay said. “We are so fortunate to have a community poised to lend their time and talents to this endeavor. Since our launch, we were quick to stand up a comprehensive infrastructure of committees, and, already, these groups have gotten to work hosting their own kickoff meetings, laying the foundations that will inform their respective missions and structures, and defining the specific goals that will guide achievement milestones. While complex, this work is incredibly exciting, and it has been a true privilege to work alongside the colleagues who, by contributing their own unique strengths, will bring the ‘Here and Next’ vision to life one accomplishment at a time.”

Implementation Committees

The progress made by the implementation committees in Public Health, Environmental Research, St. Louis Teaching and Research, and Digital Transformation is in service of each initiative’s Year One charge:

  • Public Health: Implement several committees to work on specific aspects of the school of public health organizational structure and its accreditation requirements.
  • Environmental Research: Create a plan for a Center for Environmental Research.
  • St. Louis Teaching and Research: Create the plan for the St. Louis Collaborative Hub to elevate and support community-engaged research and teaching.
  • Digital Transformation: Establish the foundation for the launch of an Institute for Digital Transformation to grow activities of researchers and students working in digital domains.

The Provost’s Office implementation team also is supporting each initiative across the research, people and community pillars of the plan through evaluation, project management and communication. Key university partners are contributing to the effort, including Finance, Advancement, and University Marketing and Communications.

To ensure calibration between committees and integration with the broader university environment, a “Here and Next” Leadership Committee has been formed, with McKay serving as chair. Nancy Mueller, associate provost for institutional effectiveness, and Joe MacDonald, assistant provost for strategy and communication, will serve as co-leads to support McKay.

“It’s been an honor to support Provost Wendland in her leadership of our strategic planning,” said MacDonald, who served as the executive project director for the planning phase. “I’ve seen firsthand how tireless the provost has been in aiming to channel the aspirations of our community into a shared vision. People matter — faculty, staff, students, our community. Vice Provost McKay understands this like few do, and I’m eager to collaborate with her in this next phase.”

Whether through large-scale events, lectures or committee meetings, “Here and Next” already has demonstrated its ability to bring the WashU community together. As the strategic vision progresses, leaders will continue to leverage “Here and Next” and connect the community for conversation, collaboration and action.