Frequently Asked Questions

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is an ongoing process that enables an institution to define its vision, values and goals as well as the strategic initiatives and resources required to achieve its goals. This process includes an assessment component that enables the University to measure its achievements and to identify obstacles to success that must be overcome.

Why are we doing strategic planning?

Academic Medical Centers have been and will continue to be challenged by extraordinary changes beyond our control: state budget reductions, competition for patients and students, changes in state and federal regulations surrounding health care and reimbursement, etc. The opportunities presented by expanding markets and the challenges of an environment characterized by increasing competition and diminishing financial resources require that we successfully position the University to build a sustainable, competitive advantage. We must also establish high aspirations for our University, focus intense effort on execution of our plans, and secure needed support and resources from our partners. The strategic planning process provides a venue in which we can thoughtfully address these and other critical issues facing the University.

How was the plan developed?

President Smith initiated the strategic planning process when he launched Engaging Excellence in the fall of 2006. Following several months of preliminary research, Dr. Smith identified the need for cross-functional teams to create recommendations for a long-term strategic plan. In addition to charging the teams, he challenged the entire university community to "create the best place possible in which to work, learn, and serve." From the start, the process had a clear-cut direction: build on what works and fix what does not.

A wide range of university stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, emeriti, alumni, civic and social service leaders, corporate partners and neighbors—participated in the various phases of Engaging Excellence. Their involvement included team meetings, town hall meetings, retreats, surveys, interviews, web-enabled submission of ideas, site visits and research of best practices.

In six months time, the Engaging Excellence task teams presented 380 recommendations to the president and his executive team, which led to a review and assessment of the recommendations to determine if we had the human, financial and capital resources to implement the recommendations. In the late fall of 2007, all of the recommendations were approved for implementation, with approximately 65 of the recommendations already implemented as "quick wins." In February of 2008, six new Engaging Excellent Steering Committees and twenty-nine implementation teams were convened. These teams worked for nineteen months to implement over 450 process improvements.

Simultaneously, committees were convened to focus on the planning and implementation of the more strategically focused areas, many of which sprang from Engaging Excellence, and others that were already in action. Strategic focused groups include the Master Facilities Plan, the Practice Plan Task Force, the Strategic Enrollment Committee, the University Hospital Strategic Plan, the Research Strategic Plan, the Sustainability Task Force, the Regional Task Force, and the Information Technology Planning Groups.

In February 2009, the president convened the University Strategic Planning Committee to bring together all of the strategic planning efforts to create a focused, long-term strategic plan for the entire campus. Dr. Smith launched the strategic plan to the university in late January 2010.

Who is involved with strategic planning?

Throughout the first three years of the Engaging Excellence planning process, a wide range of university stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, emeriti, alumni, civic and social service leaders, corporate partners and neighbors—participated in the various phases of strategic planning. Their involvement required a significant investment in time and included team meetings, town hall meetings, retreats, surveys, interviews, web-enabled submission of ideas, site visits and research of best practices.

In February 2010, President Smith convened the Upstate Medical University Strategic Plan Committee, comprised of deans, faculty, and campus and hospital officers and administrators who worked with subcommittees to develop the strategies and metrics of the plan, which was launched in January 2010. Since the inception of the Strategic Plan, a report card is produced that tracks Upstate's progress.

The Report Card is presented annually to the President and his Leadership Team by the members of the Strategic Planning Committee. University progress is reviewed and discussed, and recommendations are presented for action related to progress, new initiatives, related focus areas, and anticipated budget impacts. The President and Executive Team provide input to new strategic initiatives, state and federal regulatory impacts, and identify priorities for the next planning cycle.

How does strategic planning impact me?

The five broad goals and strategic initiatives serve as a "call to action" for all to participate. The sections in the Report Card entitled, "Other Achievements," highlight some of the accomplishments and milestones achieved across the University in the current year. The university-wide report card will enable individuals to see how they can develop unique collaborations within and outside of their areas to achieve strategic goals.

How will the results of our strategic planning efforts be communicated?

The results of our strategic planning efforts will be communicated annually. The annual Strategic Plan Report Card will be presented to the President and his Leadership Council, and will be publically posted on the strategic planning website available to internal and external audiences.

What are the next steps for Engaging Excellence?

Departments and individuals are invited to "see themselves" in the plan and determine for themselves how their own work can improve measurements and advance the goals and strategies. The plan provides guidance and focus to help make decisions that are relevant to specific areas of work. Departments are encouraged to hold meetings to discuss how their staff can achieve the strategies and improve the measurements outlined in the plan.