The President's Vision Statement
WPI is a premier small, comprehensive university, rooted in engineering and science, devoted to the creative and fruitful applications of knowledge, and keenly committed to the full development of the human potential. A recognized innovator in higher education, WPI provides a distinctive, forward-looking education that is particularly responsive to the needs of a rapidly developing, global society and the aspirations of our outstanding students. WPI’s graduates are well prepared to direct critical industries, drive sustainable economic development, and lead our corporations, our communities, and our nation.
We are deeply committed to excellence and integrity in all that we do, both institutionally and as individual members of the university community. We respect the dignity of all individuals. We champion academic freedom, the free and open exchange of ideas, and the frank and full consideration of important issues. We strongly promote equality of access and diversity of membership in all components of our community. And we take great pride in our beautiful campus and in our important roles in our city and our region.
By the time of our sesquicentennial celebration in 2015, WPI will be recognized nationally and internationally for our exceptional academic programs, the relevance and impact of our research and graduate training, and our leadership in social and civic responsibilities. We will realize these aspirations by implementing a revised strategic plan, to be updated periodically, that is built on the following goals:
Strengthening our project-based curriculum, the WPI Plan, which focuses on the integration and application of knowledge, the skills required for productive collaboration, and the ability to get a job done; building on our core strengths in engineering and science, leveraging these strengths through novel programs that engage students’ imaginations and passions, and broadening our offerings into areas related to these core strengths; enhancing our programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and management so that they will be fully complementary to those in the core areas and regarded as highly-valued parts of a complete education; expanding the reach of our Global Perspective Program, involving more students at more international project centers, and preparing them for lives of purpose in the global community; emphasizing the importance of written and oral communication; promoting the roles of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the imaginative application of knowledge and ability; and preparing our students for lifelong learning, both to adapt to an ever-changing work place and simply to enrich their lives.
Excellence in Teaching
Sustaining our tradition of excellence in undergraduate teaching, both in the quality of the courses we offer and in the myriad opportunities for close interaction between faculty and students, whether in projects, directed study, independent research, academic advising, or co-curricular activities; and continuing to recognize and reward faculty as much for their contributions in undergraduate teaching and academic advising - including the development of new and/or improved courses, programs, and pedagogy - as for their work in research, scholarship, and artistic production.
Preparing students for the fruitful applications of the core disciplines through professional MS degree programs; expanding the current MBA program, which emphasizes entrepreneurship and the management of technology, to include a fulltime component; and strengthening our PhD programs in the engineering and science disciplines through increased support for outstanding graduate students.
Focusing our research activities on problems that are both intellectually challenging and truly important; increasing our external research funding to as much as $40 million annually by 2015; and expanding our efforts in areas where there is potential for significant impact on societal need or for clear leadership in an important field. (Such areas include biomedical engineering, certain aspects of the life sciences, environmental engineering, energy alternatives, metals processing and novel materials, and interdisciplinary pursuits that offer the possibility of leveraging existing strengths, many of which will require a significant increase in collaboration among investigators and across departments and disciplines.)
The Role and Status of Women
Increasing support for our women faculty, staff, and students, understanding that there remains a national challenge to attract and retain women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines at all levels; appreciating, as well, the more general limitations that remain on women’s ability to experience a satisfactory and supportive culture in the workplace; and striving to become known as particularly attractive to, and supportive of, women students, faculty, and staff at all levels.
Striving to become notably successful in recruiting, retaining, and supporting students, faculty, and staff of under-represented populations through particular programs and practices to this end, understanding that the essence of a university—the unfettered pursuit of excellence at all levels—requires that all worthy individuals have access to, and participation in, our institution.
Facilitating labor force development in critical industries, especially high technology and life sciences, through our Division of Corporate and Professional Education; increasing the amount of our corporate sponsored research; promoting the increased production and marketing of intellectual property for licensing and commercialization; fostering entrepreneurial activities on the part of faculty, students, alumni, and other potentially interested parties; and contributing directly to the economic development of the City of Worcester by developing Gateway Park as a district of strong scientific and economic benefit.
Providing leadership for the economic, cultural, and social development of the City of Worcester and its surrounding region; sustaining our commitment to a vibrant Worcester Project Center; providing an orientation for undergraduate students on their responsibilities as global citizens; and maximizing the amount of goods and services reasonably procured from Worcester businesses.
Increasing undergraduate enrollment from 2800 to 3400 by 2015 as rapidly as rate-limiting factors (housing, classrooms, applicant numbers and characteristics) will allow; strengthening marketing efforts to reach a larger number of prospective students across a wider geographic basin of attraction; enrolling those students best suited to succeeding in, and contributing to, our distinctive academic programs; increasing the overall diversity of the student body (both women and minorities); and increasing graduate student enrollment from 1,000 to 1,600 through anticipated growth in sponsored research and expansion of the MBA and professional master’s degree programs.
The Broader Educational System
Working with K-12 schools to strengthen the teaching of mathematics and science at all levels; promoting programs that encourage individual students to study mathematics and science and to aspire to do so in college (such as US FIRST Robotics); fostering Project Lead the Way, a high school engineering-based curriculum in mathematics and science that serves as an important pipeline for prospective STEM students; partnering with community colleges to create pathways for capable students aspiring to transfer to WPI; and pursuing partnerships with international institutions when opportunities for mutual benefit (exchange of faculty and students, research collaboration) are identified.
Further developing the campus as a more fully residential community for undergraduates; renovating existing housing facilities and constructing new residence halls; providing new apartment-style housing for graduate students (a key to attracting the best candidates in today’s competitive market); renovating academic spaces vacated by the move of life science and biomedical engineering faculty to the WPI Center at Gateway Park; completing a plan for the renovation and new construction of sports and recreation facilities, including an underground parking facility for 500-600 automobiles, and the freeing of Alumni Gym to be renovated for academic and/or administrative use; and ensuring the adequacy of space and facilities to support our academic programs at all levels.
Keeping expenses to within available resources and developing reliable five-year operating and capital budget plans; reducing the discount factor on undergraduate tuition (ideally to the mid-30 percent range) while remaining committed to supporting the enrollment of under-represented populations; increasing non-tuition revenues through the Division of Corporate and Professional Education, sponsored research, annual giving, and auxiliary enterprises; prudently using debt to accomplish major capital initiatives; and planning and executing a university campaign with a goal in the $200-$300 million range.
Increasing services for alumni, including significantly improved career information, richer communication from the university, and more active engagement through regional clubs and events and a new online community; providing staff with increased opportunities for training and professional growth; improving faculty compensation and staff support; and increasing recognition and reward for outstanding performance for both faculty and staff.
In summary, WPI aspires to be a model institution—for students, who appreciate the importance and power of scientific and technological knowledge, and who want to prepare for lives of creative achievement, leadership, and fulfillment; for faculty, who want to share in the excitement of close interaction with students and colleagues, the fun of a distinctive curriculum geared to high student achievement, and the challenge of research and professional service that makes a difference in the world; and for staff, who want to be part of an institution that matters greatly, that respects all of its members, and that is strongly devoted to their personal growth and development. These goals, and the strategies by which they are implemented, will preserve and reinforce WPI’s intrinsic values and qualities while enabling the university to engage this new century from a position of increased strength and creative leadership.
Dennis D. Berkey
Worcester Polytechnic Institute