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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 12, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 34
Looking at the JHU of the Future

Plan will set priorities, identify crosscutting initiatives

Johns Hopkins finished its last strategic plan in 1994. It was the result of work done by the Committee for the 21st Century, or C21, chaired by President William R. Brody, then professor and chair of Radiology at the School of Medicine.

That plan has served as a blueprint for the expansion of the university's global influence, a building campaign that has nearly doubled Johns Hopkins' teaching and research space and two development campaigns that collectively raised more than $4.672 billion.

By any stretch, the document has served the university well. Yet the world is now a different place, and a new roadmap is needed. The journey starts now.

In preparation for the next phase in the university's history, Provost Kristina Johnson and President Brody have initiated a new planning process called Framework for the Future. The process is intended to engage the university community in thinking about what Johns Hopkins needs to do to maintain its leadership in research, discovery and education, while continuing to positively influence a global society.

In a document outlining the initiative, Provost Johnson said that the university, which has a modest endowment relative to its peers, needs to think and act creatively in order to stay on top.

"We compete by being entrepreneurial and aggressive in attracting resources; for 28 years in a row, we have led the nation in extramural research expenditures," she said. "Given the current economic environment, potentially difficult federal funding climate and continuing globalization, it is imperative that we strategically plan for maintaining our excellence in the context of these changing times."

The goal of the Framework planning process, she said, is to develop an integrated and inspired plan that articulates a shared vision for what will define a great university in the 21st century, sets priorities for deepening the university's excellence and further differentiating JHU from its peers, and identifies crosscutting initiatives to ensure greater impact.

"Our aim," she said, "is to positively impact society through improved research, scholarship, creativity, teaching and professional practice."

Johnson said she expects the process to produce a specific set of recommendations and a funding plan.

The wheels were recently set in motion with the appointment of a Provost Steering Committee, chaired by Johnson, and the establishment of three working groups focused on Discovery, People and Ways and Means.

Each working group will comprise 20 to 30 faculty, students and staff and be led by a faculty chair and co-chairs appointed by the provost upon consultation with the Council of Deans and various academic councils, and from faculty nominations.

The Discovery Working Group plans to identify five or six crosscutting initiatives in research, scholarship and education that offer the greatest strategic opportunities for the university as a whole to move forward among its peers. It will also help translate the university's discoveries and application of knowledge for the benefit of the local community and global society.

The group will be chaired by Marilyn Albert, professor of neurology in the School of Medicine, and co-chaired by Adam Riess, professor of physics and astronomy in the Krieger School; Stephen Teret, professor of health policy and management in the Bloomberg School; and Barry Aprison, associate professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in the School of Education. Facilitating will be Michela Gallagher, vice provost for academic affairs and Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in the Krieger School's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Pamela Cranston, vice provost for international programs.

The People Working Group will examine how the university educates students at all levels, propose ways to better support faculty and staff in their desire to attain the highest levels of excellence and suggest strategies to recruit and retain the outstanding students, researchers, faculty and staff who will define JHU over the next several decades.

David Bell, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and dean of faculty in the Krieger School, will chair this group with co-chairs Janice Clements, the Mary Wallace Stanton Professor of Faculty Affairs and professor and director of the Department of Comparative Medicine in the School of Medicine, and Ralph Etienne-Cummings, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Whiting School. Jonathan Bagger, vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral programs and Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in the Krieger School's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education, will facilitate.

The objective of the Ways and Means Working Group is to develop planning and financing mechanisms to invest in intellectual, administrative and physical environments in order to foster creative scholarship and learning. J. Brooks Jackson, Baxley Professor and director of the Department of Pathology in the School of Medicine, will chair. Jane Guyer, professor and acting chair of Anthropology in the Krieger School, and Gerald Masson, professor of computer science in the Whiting School, will serve as co-chairs. Scott Zeger, vice provost for research and the Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Professor of Biostatistics, and Stephanie Reel, vice provost for information technology and chief information officer, will facilitate.

Roughly 80 faculty, student and administrative leaders will serve on the three working groups and steering committee. Their charge is also to solicit ideas and proposals from across the university. Subgroups will be organized to engage other faculty, staff and students to address specific issues that arise. In addition, the university is in the process of establishing a collaborative Web site where work group progress will be posted and people can share their own ideas about how to build the best possible Framework for the Future.

The timeline for the Framework, Johnson said, is aggressive.

The initial reports from the working groups will be submitted by Sept. 1, at which time updated strategic plans from the nine academic divisions and the libraries are also due. The chairs and co- chairs of the working groups, along with the provost and vice provosts, will develop from these submissions a first draft on which the university community can provide feedback in early October.

Johnson anticipates that a second draft will be submitted to the board of trustees by December so that it is available to inform and inspire the new president when he or she arrives, and help in identifying programmatic needs that will be aligned with a set of priorities for the next fund- raising campaign.

"Johns Hopkins has always been distinguished by a faculty committed to making a difference beyond the confines of academia. We live in a moment of history in which the knowledge and skills represented here are more essential than ever," she said. "There are global challenges--economic, environmental and political--whose solutions depend on the discovery and application of new knowledge and on a new generation of critical thinkers. Because the challenges we face are crosscutting, so too must be our strategies for addressing them. Framework for the Future is intended to create the infrastructure so that the Johns Hopkins community can contribute better than ever before."

To solicit ideas for the Discovery Working Group from as broad a constituency as possible, the Provost's Office is requesting proposals for initiatives in research, scholarship, creativity, teaching and practice that cut across disciplines and schools within the university (see sidebar below). Instructions for submission of proposals, due July 1, are available at


Discovery RFP

The Framework for the Future strategic planning process requests proposals for initiatives in research, scholarship, creativity, teaching and practice that cut across disciplines and divisions of the university. The aim is to identify areas of existing excellence and strength that have the capacity to make major breakthroughs at the boundaries and frontiers of disciplinary knowledge.

Proposals will be prioritized on the basis of their innovation to deepen the university's selective excellence and further differentiate Johns Hopkins from its peers. The Provost's Office will provide start-up funding in the form of planning/seed grants of up to $200,000 per year for three years to ignite new areas and strengthen existing ones where cross-disciplinary interactions make a major difference.

Proposals describing innovative re-search, teaching, practice, scholarship and creative programs, not to exceed five pages (excluding appendix materials) as outlined below, are due by July 1 to the Discovery Group (via Vice Provost Michela Gallagher) in the format as follows:

The Opportunity: Describe the opportunity addressed by the proposal and how the area will be key to important discoveries in the next decades. (Suggested: 1 page)

Existing Resources: Identify the schools, units and key faculty that will serve as a foundation for the initiative. Describe other existing resources across the university (technology, educational or research programs, centers and institutes) that give strength to the proposal. Identify any additional entities--regionally, nationally or internationally--that can offer unique partnerships in the proposed initiative. Identify leaders among JHU faculty who will anchor and integrate activities into a universitywide initiative. (Suggested: 2 pages)

Goals: What resources are needed to advance research, scholarship, education and practice in the area of opportunity; e.g., key bridging faculty, infrastructure/technology, crosscutting Centers of Excellence, curriculum and educational programs? What is needed to establish greater connectedness among the components that constitute the initiative across the university? What specific milestones are identified in the initiative to realize the potential for discovery and its translation to benefit society? What are the prospects and opportunities for long-term funding? (Suggested: 2 pages)

Appendix A: A three-year budget

Appendix B: Bios of initiative leaders (2 pages per person)

Inquiries should be directed to Vice Provost Michela Gallagher, facilitator of the Discovery Working Group, at or 410-516-0167.


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