Diverse Collaboration at the Heart of Strategic Planning Workshops

Alex Toner (left), assistant director of community engagement in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations, works with Randall McCready, executive director of financial aid in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, during a recent Plan for Pitt workshop.On Tuesday, Jan. 14, members of the University community gathered at the O’Hara Student Center for the first general audience session for the Plan for Pitt 2025.

Faculty, staff and students came from multiple units, including the School of Medicine and the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA), Community and Governmental Relations and University Communications and Marketing.

“I was really excited about these sessions,” said Kellie Kane (A&S ’99, BUS ’04G), executive director of admissions in OAFA—and two-time Pitt alum—who helped facilitate the session.

“I hope to see the collaboration of ideas among staff, faculty and students to come together to build the University that we’re going to need in the coming years.”

Melissa Schild, assistant vice chancellor for strategic planning and performance in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer is leading the process for the Plan for Pitt 2025 and hopes to see high participation and engagement from across the University in the sessions.

Your input is needed.

Four staff-specific, four faculty-specific and two general audience workshops are taking place before the end of January. And regional campus sessions are being held the first week of February. Register online for one of the scheduled workshops.

Can’t make it in person? There’s an online survey to provide feedback.

What are others saying? View notes from previously held workshop sessions on the Plan for Pitt website

“Students, faculty, staff, alumni—we want to hear from everyone,” said Schild. “Strong participation will result in a plan that everybody can use as a foundation for moving forward. It will position Pitt to make an even bigger impact."

After an introduction about session structure, Schild divided participants into small groups where they collaborated to define goals of the Plan for Pitt strategy, suggested outcomes and outlined actions that would help achieve tangible goals. Ideas were collected on large sheets of paper with bright markers, which would later be transcribed and posted online.

With the “Research of Impact” goal, discussion included exploring new partnerships, incorporating professors’ research into coursework and offering more opportunities for students to get involved.

Participants suggested creating more stories about the impact of Pitt’s research. Suzanne Lynch, senior business manager in the Office of the Dean in Student Affairs and a member of Staff Council, cited a video she had seen about the work of Graham Hatfull, Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology in the Department of Biological Sciences.

“I thought it was a great way to tell that story of the difference research can make and the impact it can have,” Lynch said. “It really brought it to life.”

With group work captured on large sheets of paper Schild hung around the room, participants were encouraged to review the work of other groups and add “+” marks to indicate agreement with ideas and “-” marks to show disagreement.

Through her work with Staff Council, Lynch has seen the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to offer feedback to leadership and administration.

“We encourage staff to go to workshops to get their voices heard through events like this and the Office of Human Resources’ Shaping the Workplace initiative,” she said. “It’s important to hear from everyone.”

Randall McCready, executive director of financial aid in OAFA, said his office has been profoundly impacted by the Plan for Pitt. “It’s far more than just a document,” he said. “It helps provide a beacon in the distance to help guide the University to greater achievements.”