In 2020-2021 and amid a pandemic, the development of the university’s latest Strategic Action Plan began in support of New York Tech’s mission to provide career-oriented professional education, to offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and to support research and scholarship that benefit the larger world. The far-reaching initiative has brought together the entire New York Tech community to forge a plan for a prosperous and sustainable future.
A multidisciplinary steering committee of faculty, staff, and students led the plan’s development under the leadership of co-chairs Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jerry Balentine, D.O., and former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Junius Gonzales, M.D. Now in its implementation stage, the plan is being led by Associate Professor N. Sertac Artan, Ph.D., and Associate Provost Francesca Fiore, Ed.D., co-chairs of the action implementation committee.
They, along with Planning Support Specialist Erikka Vaughan, Ph.D., sat down with New York Tech News to talk about the immediate and longer-term goals and the status of planning efforts as the new academic year begins.
How were the implementation leaders and team(s) determined? What are the immediate and longer-term goals and initial deliverables of the group/s?
Francesca Fiore (FF): Implementation leaders and team(s) were determined based on their interests and experiences in each of the plan’s four priority areas: optimize student success, drive innovation and discovery with diverse talent, sharpen institutional identity, and fortify institutional viability. Within each priority area, there are several objectives and actions.
There’s a lot of work to do, but luckily, we are not starting from scratch. Our first year will be focused on scaling work that may already be in progress, such as identifying obstacles to student persistence and root causes for the ways that New York Tech contributes to these obstacles. In the long-term, we will look at making changes in policies and procedures to comprehensively address potential obstacles in an equitable way, helping to put the infrastructure in place for success. Some of our other longer-term goals include creating a new institutional vision and values, ensuring engagement from faculty, staff, students, and alumni in strategic planning and implementation, and developing interdisciplinary communities of practice at New York Tech
What is the timeframe for the strategic action plan implementation?
Sertac Artan (SA): The strategic action plan will be implemented over five years. Right now, we are focusing on prioritizing action items for year 1, the 2022-2023 academic year. The implementation teams will ultimately shape and finalize which actions will begin at the start of this fall semester, but one key action for the overall action implementation committee is creating inclusive and representative implementation processes that include faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, and community members.
What has happened so far?
FF: A lot! It’s been a busy and productive summer. We’ve worked on finalizing the structure and composition of the teams, developed guiding principles for our work ahead, prioritized action items, created a process to support actions with funding, and have begun to develop key performance indicators.
SA: The cross-cutting themes in the strategic plan are equity consciousness, operational efficiency, and digital transformation, and we are trying to practice and model these themes throughout this process.
Who else is on the committee? Who has volunteered?
FF: The committee includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We’ve received over 90 volunteers and nominations and are excited to see such strong interest among our community to participate in this important work.
At this time, a faculty and staff member are co-chairs of each committee. How was that determined? Are there plans to add others in the community?
FF: The strategic plan touches on all parts of the institution, and we wanted to reflect that in the composition of the committees and the co-chairs. Co-chairs were selected based on each member’s interest and experiences in the plan’s four priority goals and with an eye towards ensuring representation across campuses, schools, and colleges. Lucky for us, there was such a high level of interest and such a diversity of backgrounds in the volunteers. Community members who are interested in participating—either through joining a committee or through some other way—are welcome to reach out.
SA: We cannot stress it enough. Those who are interested in volunteering should reach out. The more, the merrier. We are all learning from each other through this process.
Erikka Vaughan, Ph.D., joined New York Tech as planning support specialist in the Office of Academic Affairs in August 2020 to directly support New York Tech’s strategic planning initiatives. She spoke to New York Tech News about the role of the Strategic Action Plan implementation committee and the key performance indicators that will help to measure the plan’s progress and overall success.
What is the role of the implementation committee?
The overarching role of the action implementation committee is to ensure that the plan happens, and that it happens in the way that the plan proposes—centering equity, operational efficiency and resource effectiveness, and digital transformation across all goals and objectives. People often describe how plans can wind up sitting on shelves without having true impact. We feel strongly that this will not be the case with this plan. We want to make sure that it is active, engaging, well-communicated, and serves as a framework for supporting positive change across New York Tech and in its respective local and regional communities.
Can you talk about key performance indicators for the Strategic Action Plan?
We are still finalizing the key performance indicators that we will follow for the plan. Many, many were proposed, but the oversight team and the full action implementation committee will carefully finalize the planned metrics that we will follow as a community to assess progress on the plan. In many cases, we plan to leverage the use of data New York Tech currently collects and the results of past and future surveys. We also recognize that the numbers won’t tell the whole story. We would like to hold open forums and town halls to ensure there is awareness of actions being implemented and to get feedback on how different stakeholders are experiencing the resulting changes.
Can people still get involved in the strategic planning process?
Yes! Recruitment for the teams is an ongoing process, and we expect the teams will evolve through the implementation of the strategic plan, with year one being an opportunity to identify synergy across different areas, campuses, and units. If anyone remains interested in directly supporting the implementation effort or helping with other efforts and events, they can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But ultimately, everyone is involved in the plan’s implementation, even if not on a formal team. Every interaction with a student is an opportunity to optimize student success, every connection with a colleague is an opportunity to drive innovation and discovery with diverse talent. We all contribute to New York Tech’s identity and sharing what that means, and the capacity to build partnerships starts with the relationships we all develop.
Learn more about the Strategic Action Plan and how to join the committee.
These interviews were edited and condensed.