Strategic Planning for Departments, Schools, and Colleges

A History of Strategic Planning at UC Berkeley

In Fall 2000, UC Berkeley established a committee composed of representatives from the faculty and executive leadership, campus staff, and graduate and undergraduate students, and charged this committee with preparing a Strategic Academic Plan for UC Berkeley.  Over the following two years, the committee met regularly, revised drafts frequently, and held three open campus forums to solicit the ideas of the larger campus community.

The final version of the Strategic Academic Plan, published in June 2002, articulates all the challenges, recommends principles and proposals to address these challenges, and outlines a comprehensive strategy for implementation.   There was also a five-year review of progress entitled Strategic Academic Plan Review that was completed in the Summer of 2008.


At-a-glance Overview

The following summary document identifies the main elements that are typically included in an academic unit’s strategic plan, a strategic faculty hiring plan, and a faculty FTE proposal. If you have questions or suggestions as you incorporate this advice into your planning efforts, we invite you to please contact us at .


Advice to Academic Departments and Schools on the Elements of a Strategic Plan

A strategic planning process involves identifying internal and external factors that motivate change in your academic unit, followed by the formulation of prioritized, realistic goals in response to these factors, and vivid ideas about how to achieve the goals. A good plan is a living document, periodically refreshed, used as a guide to decision making, and developed in alignment with the college and campus. The process should be a collective endeavor that ignites imagination and commitment of faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and leads to a shared understanding and vision. The following are typical elements of a strategic plan for an academic unit such as a department or professional school. Excellence, including in diversity with regard to participation, equity, and inclusiveness, should run through all elements. Each numbered topic should take no more than a page, with other material in appendices.



Executive Summary

1. One-page summary of key elements of the strategic plan.


Purpose: Who are we? How should we be evolving and why?

2. Discussion of mission, purpose, impact in teaching, research, and service; position in the field and vision for the future disciplinary standing and areas of distinction

Link to Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt, UCLA.


Intellectual Focus: Where do we make our mark?

3. Research and other creative activities, professional engagements – what is it now and how should it evolve given available resources


Education: What are the principal educational activities we pursue, or should pursue?

4. Undergraduate education – current/ideal size; goals, intended impact on student learning, assessment of outcomes; curriculum and advising demand and resources

5. Graduate education – current/ideal size; goals, planned developments, and related purpose; program demand and resources for student support

6. Proposals and rationales to establish, disestablish, consolidate or modify degree programs – planned or contemplated


People, Infrastructure, and Finances: How do we propose using our resources to move from where we are toward our desired future?

7. Review of academic staffing, research drivers, teaching workload (current/ideal), and hiring plan

8. Supporting infrastructure (staff, facilities, information technology); plans for what your unit can address and what you need help on

9. Review of resources and expenditures, including revenue generation opportunities


Priorities:  What is most important for us to accomplish?  What does success look like?

10. Outstanding challenges and prioritized plans for how to address them; evaluation criteria and metrics to help provide knowledge of success