Executive Summary of the Plan

WPI was founded in 1865 on the principle of integrating theory and practice, an idea that has contributed to the institution's success and to that of its graduates. This philosophy is embodied in a revolutionary approach to technological education that the faculty developed three decades ago. The underlying curriculum, along with a pioneering global projects program, has helped WPI achieve recognition as a national university. This national university status is also a result of the addition and continual growth of our graduate research programs, which have moved the University into the Doctoral Universities II classification as defined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

WPI's growing reputation has opened a timely window of opportunity. By building on our strengths and our heritage of innovation, we can achieve even greater levels of quality and prestige. Toward that end, WPI, in 1996, launched a comprehensive strategic planning process that involved the dedicated work of many members of the WPI family. The products of that effort are this strategic plan and, more important, the strategic thinking behind it.

Our overarching goal is to prepare technological humanists in the engineering, science, and management of technology fields for success in life and in their lifework. Reaching this goal depends upon the definition and attainment of specific educational outcomes in each of our programs, including three principal outcomes: a thorough knowledge of fundamentals with the necessary disciplinary depth; the leadership and communication skills needed to contribute to and benefit from society; and an ability for sustainable lifelong learning. We will realize these outcomes by building on our legacy of individualized programs of study employing project-based education in a global, societal context. Where appropriate, this pedagogy also will be applied in our graduate programs.

The achievement of this overarching goal is linked to the realization of our vision of WPI in 2010 as a world leader among technological universities. In this vision, a WPI education, with the collaboration it fosters between all students and faculty, will serve as the model for a new "liberal education" well into the new millennium. This vision requires the entire WPI community to commit itself to the highest standards in academics and scholarship. Just as important, we must recognize and embrace the need for doing things differently as most credible evidence suggests that the rate of change in our external and internal environments will only accelerate in the years ahead. Recognizing the strategic importance of this requirement, we have incorporated critical transformational changes into the performance measures.

Our strategic initiatives and increased attention to marketing efforts are intended to achieve long-overdue recognition for WPI's position as a national university. Foremost among our initiatives are the following:

  • We will raise the faculty-student ratio by adding at least 20 new faculty positions to enhance our academic and research programs.
  • We will nurture research and scholarship by selecting future faculty members whose expertise lies within specific interdisciplinary thrust areas as well as management of technology and the humanities and arts. Endowed chairs will be a major focal point for future activities. Further, we will increase support for undergraduate and graduate student participation in research programs. Finally, we will aggressively seek exceptional undergraduate and graduate students, and substantially increase our endowment for merit and need-based financial aid.
  • We will enhance WPI's undergraduate and graduate academic programs, developing them around an "honors college" metaphor at all levels, exposing all students to the rare community that is supportive of tutorial interactions between students and faculty in a global setting. This will require that the first-year experience be improved and made an integral part of the project-based curriculum and that the Interactive Qualifying Project become a defining experience for all undergraduate students. In addition, we will increase the presence of our humanities and arts programs in keeping with our commitment to prepare graduates for fulfilling lives. Finally, we will expand opportunities for all students and faculty in our global program and increase our distance learning and adult education activities, with special outreach to our alumni.
  • We will increase financial support to the library so that resources, services, and facilities may be improved to a level consistent with our academic and research aspirations.
  • We will obtain and provide funding necessary to support contemporary information technology resources, management, and services consistent with full exploitation of our Internet2 capabilities.
  • We will construct a campus center to open during the 2000-01 academic year. In addition, we will develop plans and seek funding for a new academic building and associated parking garage, culminating in additional green space on the Quad. As entities move into new facilities, we will renovate vacated space to meet other academic and research needs.
  • We will increase our commitment to provide exceptional educational programs for practicing professionals and corporations. New facilities will be constructed on campus to augment offerings at our satellite locations to meet the strong demand for seminars and graduate courses created by the pace of technological change.
  • We will enhance our diversity and expand our community. In particular, we will actively recruit minorities and women to our faculty, staff, and student body. Furthermore, we will enhance our efforts to contribute to the local community through the opening of a Worcester Community Project Center.

To achieve our goals and objectives, will seek to raise $150 million by June 30, 2003, through a major capital campaign. The Campaign for WPI is directed at obtaining support for people, programs, partnerships, and the physical plant. These new resources will be the foundation for achieving our vision as a world leader in technological higher education.

WPI's commitment going forward is to monitor the numerous outcome objectives associated with the goals of the strategic plan according to a clear and well-defined set of metrics and timelines. We will review progress toward the plan annually and, as necessary, modify the action items in light of real-world changes. We also acknowledge that the University does not have the resources to undertake all of the actions set forth in the plan at once. We will review our progress against the plan on an annual basis to adjust priorities and to develop means to obtain needed resources or reallocate existing resources.

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