Strategic Planning Update - March, 2005
Update from the Strategic Planning Steering Committee
Site visits: Jerry Teller, Barbara Friedman, Shifra Bronznick and Greg Brown participated in a series of intensive conversations with faculty members, students, program administrators, and deans on the Los Angeles (Feb. 8 and 9) and Cincinnati (March l6 and l7) campuses. These visits culminated in meetings with the entire faculty at each site.
We asked faculty members (in small group meetings) to help us understand how they balance their professional roles -- teaching, mentoring, scholarship, research, committee service and community outreach. We invited them to present their perspectives on what is required for HUC-JIR to achieve excellence in its faculty, in its student body and in all its offerings. We explored the issue of 'excellence' from the students' vantage point as well, and we gained considerable insight about how students view their peers, their counterparts in other programs, their relationships with faculty and their experience with student pulpits and internships. We also spoke with the academic program directors on these campuses to elicit their perspectives and priorities for the future.
Finally, we engaged the entire faculty in our ongoing deliberations about how HUC-JIR can truly become 'one institution, multiple programs/campuses.' We also sought their input in how we might refine our criteria for decision-making and how we might develop a framework and methods for measuring excellence. We will continue to engage the faculty and administration on each campus, by sending drafts of the ideas that emerge from strategic planning and asking for their feedback and good counsel.
We will prepare a summary of the results of these site visits after we complete our site visits in New York (April 6 and 7) and Jerusalem (April l2-l5) for discussion and review prior to the May Strategic Planning Committee meeting. Although Jerry Teller and Barbara Friedman cannot participate in the Israel trip, we are pleased to report that Sheila Lambert will represent the Board at those meetings, accompanied by Shifra Bronznick and Greg Brown.
Student Survey: Dr. Steven M. Cohen, appointed to the HUC-JIR faculty as of July l, 2005, has offered in advance to lend his expertise to the strategic planning process. He is using the draft surveys created by the Student and Faculty Life Committee and integrating it with some of the site visit data, to focus more closely on the key issues to be explored in the student survey. Following review by the Student and Faculty Life Sub-Committee, we anticipate that the survey will be administered online in early May.
Alumni: Following completion of the alumni interviews, Shifra Bronznick facilitated several sessions of the Alumni Council Retreat (March 7 and 8), addressing issues of continuing education, development and recruitment. Although continuing education has not emerged as a central issue of strategic planning, it has been extremely helpful to explore issues of life-long learning with alumni representatives from all the schools. These alumni have also provided critical intelligence about the alumni role in development and recruitment. The discussions have served to strengthen the alumni groups' connection to the strategic planning process by contributing important insights about the alumni experience and perspective. These insights and observations will also inform the creation of the alumni survey, to be developed with Dr. Steven M. Cohen.
School of Jewish Communal Service: A series of meetings has been held with Dr. Steven Windmueller and Marla Abraham, along with members of the administration and committee members to initiate our review of the School of Jewish Communal Service (SJCS). These meetings have served to identify the key informants and core questions for the analysis of the SJCS in a changing professional landscape. Terry Rosenberg has already interviewed Susan Shevitz, who heads a counterpart program at the Hornstein School at Brandeis. Shifra Bronznick has interviewed Roy Sparow, head of the NYU Wagner School MPA-Jewish Studies Program. Interviews with an additional 25 individuals, including major employers, philanthropists, alumni and leaders in the field will take place over the next two months.
Leadership: In June and July, Norman Cohen and Shifra Bronznick will convene a group of experts in the field of leadership, to help us determine how we might expand the leadership capacity of the Jewish world. The agenda of this meeting will focus on ways that HUC-JIR might integrate the best new thinking about leadership into our programs, and how to develop a Masters program in Jewish leadership that will engage the appetite of lay leaders and philanthropists for increased breadth and depth of learning. We will also examine ways of positioning our School of Communal Service within the field for maximum effect.
One Institution, Multiple Campuses, Multiple Programs: The Deans have been asked to comment on our brainstorming sessions (refined and categorized in the attached) about ways to translate 'One Institution, Multiple Campuses, Multiple Programs' into a set of practices, policies and behaviors. They have since submitted their comments. We subsequently asked the President and Provost to respond with their ideas.
Shifra Bronznick also has been working with Norman Cohen on initiatives that will leverage the idea of 'One Institution, Multiple Campuses, Multiple Programs' on each of our campuses. To model this idea, Dr. Steven M. Cohen proposes to launch faculty-student discussions on each campus, to explore ways that HUC-JIR can evolve in response to the changing landscape of Jewish life. These 'round- robin' dialogues will create a prototype for networked inter-campus collaboration as well as enlightening our committee about new ways to envision the Jewish future.
Partnerships: Terry Rosenberg and Bonnie Tisch have worked with Shifra Bronznick and Nina Hanan, the President's Chief of Staff, to develop an approach for cultivating a stronger culture of collaboration with URJ. Bonnie and Nina will pursue the best of these ideas with URJ senior management and will report on these efforts at the May meeting.
Resources: Shifra Bronznick has offered to bring an expert development consultant onto her team, to facilitate an informed conversation about the best strategic options for developing new resources at HUC-JIR. The goal is to build on Erica Frederick's successful accomplishments in development, to strengthen Board involvement in fundraising, and to learn from the best practices of comparable institutions. We hope to enlist this expert by the end of April to work with Erica, Shifra, Bob Kopple and the committee.
Creating Criteria and Processes for Decision Making: One of the primary objectives of this strategic planning process is to develop a conceptual framework for determining criteria and setting priorities, which can be used to establish clear mechanisms and processes for collective decision-making. Senior Administration members, key Board members and faculty have participated in a number of meetings devoted to these issues, and our May meeting will be dedicated to these issues as well.
Plans for the May 23rd Board Meeting: In order to prepare the Board for some of the discussions that we anticipate for the Aspen Retreat, we have invited a panel of young leaders in the fields of philanthropy and Jewish leadership to lead a discussion with the full Board about the perceptions and expectations of the next generations relative to trends in Jewish life and how they might affect the College-Institute.