President outlines new strategic planning process and positive fiscal results

Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein will head the planning process

President Fred Lawrence announced at today’s faculty meeting that the university is taking the first steps towards developing a strategic plan that will guide him as he sets direction and will provide a framework for decision-making for the next five years and beyond.

“This is an exciting time for all of us. It is a chance for us to build on the great strengths of this university and, working together, to envision a defining future for Brandeis and to reach for it. This process will be a model of broad engagement,” he said.

Lawrence announced at his inauguration last spring his intention to launch the strategic plan by September.

“My charge as we begin the process: This is not a time to be timid. It is a time to be bold by building on the core.  We should focus on areas where we can rightfully claim excellence and those areas where, with work, we can achieve it. Let us think how we can expand and go forward,” he added.

Lawrence discussed the strategic plan at the first faculty meeting of the fall semester. He said Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein will head the planning process, which will include academic and administration leaders, faculty, students, trustees, alumni and staff.

To assist in the effort, Brandeis has retained CambridgeConcord Associates of Cambridge (CCA) and one of its principals, Elaine C. Kuttner, as consultants. CCA has a demonstrated track record in guiding universities as they develop and execute successful strategic plans and is committed to developing a process that best suits the unique needs of Brandeis, Goldstein said.

The next step will be to select a strategic planning committee, which will manage the process and ensure that all perspectives and constituencies are engaged, he said.

“Brandeis is well-positioned to chart its future course. A strong plan will emerge if we will tap the collected wisdom and creative genius of our community,” Goldstein said. “We benefit from a faculty of leaders in their disciplines, a staff steeped in best practices, a vibrant student body, world-changing alums committed to the institution and accomplished trustees and friends. There are many details that need to be worked out. A committee to ensure inclusion is one of the first.”

The president said he expects the university will have an agreed-upon framework for a strategic plan by the end of the academic year, with a fully developed and approved plan in place by December 2012.

In other business, the president spoke to the faculty about highlights of an analysis of the university’s financial performance for fiscal year 2011, which ended on June 30, 2011. These included:

  •   Gifts received to support budget relief totaled $9.3 million, or $1.3 million over the $8 million budgeted for fiscal year 2011. Alumni giving was up by $3 million, which represents a 26 percent increase over fiscal year 2010.
  •   Brandeis’ endowment performance was up 16.4 percent -- more than double the projected return of 8 percent in the fiscal 2011 budget. 
  •   The market value of the university endowment as of June 30, 2011 was $704 million, just slightly below the year-end all-time high of $712 million on June 30, 2008.
  •   The endowment draw rate was 6.4 percent -- a significant improvement relative to the budgeted draw rate of 6.8 percent.  This left the university with a $1 million “surplus” on its bottom line and puts Brandeis ahead of schedule in the financial team’s effort to reach an appropriate draw rate of 5 percent, still projected for fiscal year 2014.
  •   Total cash giving for the fiscal year 2011 was $62 million. As expected, this figure is down $10.1 million from the previous fiscal year because major funding for building projects was largely completed in that year. Building the pledge “pipeline” will be a top priority over the coming years and will be a critical aspect of strategic planning, Lawrence said.

“Overall, the end-of-year report is a good one,” he added. “We continue to have our challenges and we must be careful and continue to plan conservatively. But we are in a solid and stable position going forward.”

Categories: General

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