Dr. Joseph Coyle, incoming Mathematics Department Chair and Strategic Plan Committee Chair
A committee of School of Science faculty, commissioned by Dean Steven Bachrach and led by committee chair Dr. Joseph Coyle, has been working to develop a new strategic plan for the School of Science. The committee has reached out to the rest of the faculty for input and is working to formulate a new School of Science Strategic Plan that can be the successful cornerstone for the future of the School.
Dr. Joseph Coyle
Tell us about the strategic planning process and its importance for the school.
In the fall Dean Bachrach and I discussed the direction of the school and setting priorities; more specifically, strategic planning. The committee was formed in November and we started right away. The emphasis all along has been that the process should be faculty driven and I think we have stuck to that as things have played out. The committee identified several areas of interest such as facilities and research. The first thing we did was survey the faculty to get a sense of which of these areas were important for the school. We received a lot of great feedback and, after narrowing the areas of interest to four, reached out to the alumni for feedback by way of LinkedIn, Facebook and an email distributed by External Affairs. All of this was essentially the first stage in the process. From there we organized the feedback and asked the departments to come up with some goals. After receiving the departmental goals, we had a productive breakout session at the school meeting in March where we were successful in taking the department goals, finding some commonality and forming a first draft of our school goals. At this point we are finishing the specific wording of the goals. We hope to have them finished by the end of May. In June we will have an open session or two (with lunch) to present the goals to the faculty with the hope of getting a formal endorsement by way of a vote. Once that is complete, we will put together a formal report for the dean. The emphasis all along has been that the process should be faculty driven. I think the committee has stayed with this perspective and I believe that are goals reflect the input and priorities of the faculty. I’m kind of excited to present them to the faculty.
The strategic plan is important. It will be a kind of road map for the dean and the school going forward. The current climate of the administration is supportive in the direction that we, the faculty and staff of the School of Science, want to go. It’s really crucial that we have our priorities and needs organized. The strategic plan is crucial in making a positive change over the next five years or so.
In broad terms help us understand the direction the strategic plan is going
Broad terms? Well, I can tell you we thought of things from a diverse set of perspectives. For example if I were a student looking at schools or a parent of a potential student, what about a program would really excite me or get my attention? It would be things like innovative teaching, research opportunities, shared experiences that really instill a sense of pride and confidence. Of course, the physical spaces to help facilitate these things are also important. On the other hand, think of the varying responses you get whenever you bring up Monmouth. Do people scratch their heads and ask where that is? How are we really known for or what value do we add to the region? The plan is going to help the school enhance it’s standing from these and other perspectives.
Where there any surprises?
I have talked with a good number of people about strategic planning over the last few months and was surprised by the number of varying (and strong!) opinions in terms of what form the plan should take. I guess it all depends on the needs of whatever group is doing the planning. To be honest, the organization of our ideas and feedback has slowly changed over the last few months and I feel like we have settled in a really good place with the style and form.
How were alumni responses used and can alumni still contribute?
As I mentioned before, we reached out to alumni in a few ways fairly early on in the process. I was a little surprised our connection with former students wasn’t stronger and I hope that improves in the future. Having said that, I would say that despite the fact that the strategic planning is coming to an end, we are always interested in hearing from our alumni. I would say pick up the phone or send an email to tell us how you are doing – even if it has been a long time! (Alumni are also encouraged to update their profiles and offer feedback via the Alumni Survey.
You are about the become chair of Mathematics. Has the process or findings helped you refine your leadership for the future?
That’s a good question. I have always been of the mind that it is important to be transparent and build consensus in decision making. I have, however, been thinking about my leadership style and what kind of chair I will try to be for the department. Our department is moving along just fine settled rather inconspicuously in Howard Hall. The strategic planning process has lead me to fully realize that our department can be even stronger if we tend to think of ourselves more as part of the school than an individual department within the school. This perspective will definitely have an influence on my leadership within our department.