Strategic Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is a process of discovery, reflection, discussion, community building, and priority setting through which an organization, like NYU Steinhardt, defines its overarching direction and strategy, sets goals, and develops objectives and implementation steps necessary to achieve those goals. A good strategic planning process generates goals that are aspirational, but also practical and feasible, through a broad-based process that depends upon the participation and engagement of administrators, faculty, staff, and students. The best strategic planning process also results in a plan that is institutionally resonant -- it reflects the unique characteristics and goals of that institution.  NYU Steinhardt's new strategic plan will guide the School for the coming five to ten years.

What happens once the plan is created?

The NYU Steinhardt strategic plan will include specific steps for implementation, including activities required to accomplish objectives and goals, timelines, assignments of responsibility and accountability, and metrics for the assessment of progress. The strategic plan is intended to inform decision making and resource allocation; it should not merely sit in a binder on a shelf. To be useful in these ways, the strategic plan must be developed through a trustworthy and transparent process that reflects a balance of leadership vision and faculty, staff, and student input; it must be intellectually rigorous and institutionally resonant.

Why now?

A number of external factors call for the development of an NYU Steinhardt strategic plan: the University's capital campaign; the need for alignment with the NYU's planning priorities; ongoing change in the demographics, expectations, and preferences of students at NYU Steinhardt and beyond; emerging workforce requirements and needs; and changing economic and social circumstances in the world around us.

But internal factors are equally, or more, important: the School's capital campaign, space planning that includes over 100,000 square feet of renovations, marketing and communications needs, and the desire to define and realize NYU Steinhardt's aspirations for the next five to ten years in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creative work, and service.

This strategic planning process was not launched to correct any deficiency, fix any problem, or remediate any function, program, or department of the School.  Instead, it begins from a position of strength and provides the opportunity for NYU Steinhardt to plan for even greater accomplishments in the future. Its purpose is not to challenge the School's mission or question its vision; rather, the strategic planning process will build upon the strong foundation that NYU Steinhardt's faculty, staff, and students have created.

How will we ensure that every department and all members of the faculty and staff have opportunities to contribute to the creation of the plan?

The strategic planning process will provide multiple opportunities for every member of the NYU Steinhardt community (administrators, faculty, staff, and students) to share their observations, opinions, ideas, and recommendations.

The process of discovery (information gathering) will include individual and small and large group interviews; focus groups; within-department and cross-department discussions; surveys of faculty, staff, students, and alumni; "idea walls," and an interactive retreat.

Furthermore, the Steering Committee is a group nominated by the faculty, department chairs and deans and appointed by the Dean to help guide the planning process.  It is comprised of individuals representing the diverse departments and constituencies in the NYU Steinhardt community. The planning process and the plan that results from it must recognize the needs, challenges, and aspirations of the departments as well as the School.

Why does Steering Committee membership require such an intense time commitment?

In late winter and spring 2012, members of the Steering Committee will meet frequently to receive and discuss information being gathered in the process of discovery; given the size and scope of the School and the number and variety of information-gathering methods intended, there will be a great deal of data to manage and think about. Time commitments will be much lighter during the summer, while the consultants are preparing thoughtful analyses of the data. Members of the Steering Committee will participate in the strategic planning retreat in September; then, and in the four to six weeks that follow, they will play an active and critical role in creating the plan's goals and objectives. Steering Committee members will also have liaison roles with NYU Steinhardt departments and constituencies.

While we recognize that the time commitment will at times be significant, the dedication of the Steering Committee will be a determining factor in the final outcome of the planning process.

Who are the consultants on this project, and why do we need them?

Keeling and Associates, LLC, is a higher-education consulting firm located just blocks from the NYU Steinhardt campus. The team has led many divisions, departments, programs, and whole universities through strategic planning processes.

Their role will be to act as an objective third party, concerned only with the need to create an ambitious yet practical plan that responds to the needs and concerns of the NYU Steinhardt community and allows every part of the School to flourish while advancing the mission and values of the School as a whole. Their impartiality and focus on the project will allow the planning to progress without reducing the working capacity of School administrators to fulfill their day-to-day tasks.

The Keeling and Associates (K&A) team includes:

  • Richard Keeling serves as Project Director for the Steinhardt strategic planning process.  He is Principal and Senior Executive Consultant at K&A.
  • Richard Hersh is Senior Consultant on this project.
  • Kyle Hutchison serves as Project Consultant and Senior Project Manager for the Steinhardt planning process.  He is Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff at K&A.
  • Jennifer Dickson is Project Consultant and Research Director for this planning process.  She is Director of Research and Intellectual Capital at K&A.
  • Christine Priori is a Consulting Associate at K&A.  She serves as Project Associate for the planning process.
  • Dustin Sonneborn is the Lead Consulting Associate on this project.  He is a Consulting Associate at K&A.
  • Gordon Winsor serves as Project Associate for survey research.  He is a Consulting Associate at K&A.

How will I be kept abreast of progress throughout the strategic planning process?

Strategic planning works best when everyone is informed and included. The NYU Steinhardt community will receive regular updates on the progress of the planning effort through the Strategic Planning website (, periodic emails, and announcements in faculty meetings, student group and government meetings, administrative meetings as well as larger venues, such as the State of the School.

How can I get involved with the planning process?

All members of the NYU Steinhardt community will have a chance to have their voices heard through interviews, focus groups, group forums, surveys, and idea walls, and every voice is important. The more opinions we hear during the process, the better the plan will be, so please volunteer when contacted, and make sure you check your email and the strategic planning website often.

Does NYU Steinhardt -- or the consultants -- know what the results of the process will look like?

No. The results will come from both the School's leadership and the entire community of our faculty, staff, and students, which is why everyone's involvement is so important. There are no preconceived goals; the consultants do not have "the answer."  Once the process is underway in March, both the importance and the legitimacy of broad-based input will become obvious. And since there are no predetermined outcomes, each and every member of the community can have a real impact on the outcomes of the planning process. Please get involved!