Revised Strategic Plan

WPI Strategic Plan 2008 - 2015

in order to guide program and facilities development, resource allocation, and general operations, the following Strategic Goals for the period 2008 through 2015 have been proposed and approved:

  1. Promote the continuing development of the WPI Plan as the essential core of WPI’s premier, science and technology centered undergraduate program.
  2. Further enhance the quality of academic programs.
  3. Strengthen institutional support for graduate education and faculty research primarily in areas of significant student demand, demonstrated leadership, potential for external sponsorship, and significant societal or national need.
  4. Support and value a high quality of campus life and sense of community
  5. Develop campus facilities according to an explicit plan for supporting academic and co-curricular needs and property maintenance.
  6. Promote WPI as a national university
  7. Develop non-traditional sources of revenue to strengthen the university financially and keep WPI affordable.
  8. Improve Alumni Relations.

Goal 1: Promote the continuing development of the WPI Plan as the essential core of WPI’s premier, science and technology centered undergraduate program.

The WPI Plan, introduced in 1970, remains the defining core of our undergraduate program and WPI’s most important enterprise. Although modified over the years, the Plan remains appropriately centered on engineering and science, requiring of all students two major projects—one at the intersection of technology and society and the other in the major field of study—and a serious engagement with the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The experience of working in project teams, communicating results both orally and in writing, and succeeding in WPI’s fast-paced curriculum produces graduates well prepared for the challenges of a complex, competitive, and technological world. Regardless of their major field of study, WPI graduates know how to attack world-class problems, imagining what can be accomplished, and achieving the intended outcome.

Goal 2: Further enhance the quality of academic programs.

WPI proudly maintain strengths in the core areas of engineering, the natural and social sciences, the arts and humanities, and business management. We will continue to develop new academic programs that build on traditional strengths, reaching across disciplines to reflect the integration of knowledge and its contemporary applications.

Close student-faculty interactions have always been a hallmark of WPI’s undergraduate program, and the value of this commitment of faculty time and devotion to students cannot be overstated. We will support these faculty efforts fully, by providing appropriate resources, as well as proper recognition and reward for excellent teaching and advising.

Further support for faculty will be provided through competitive salaries, additional endowed professorships, and the assurance that female faculty and faculty from under-represented populations will find a fully welcoming and supportive environment in which to put down roots and develop careers. Indeed, it is our intention to recruit and retain significantly increased numbers of outstanding female and minority faculty.

Undergraduate tuition constitutes the university’s primary source of revenue. To achieve a sustainable balance between revenues and expenses in a manner that ensures the high quality of the WPI experience, we plan to increase undergraduate enrollment to the range of 3,200 to 3,400 by the year 2015. This will require careful attention to the ratio of students to faculty and academic staff, and the availability and quality of teaching and learning spaces (classrooms, labs, project team suites, etc.), to ensure the continuing quality of all aspects of the undergraduate experience

Goal 3: Strengthen institutional support for graduate education and faculty research primarily in areas of significant student demand, demonstrated leadership, potential for external sponsorship, and significant societal or national need.

Masters and doctoral programs comprise distinct types of graduate education. Many of our master’s degree programs are intended to prepare students for professional careers. The increasing practice of coupling master’s and undergraduate degree programs, sometimes in different fields, such as those combining engineering and science with business management, or the “professional master’s degrees” in mathematics and science, should be encouraged and further developed. The Division of Continuing and Professional Education, with its distance education (ADLN) component, is an important contributor to graduate enrollment.

Doctoral programs should be supported in areas of significant faculty research strength, and are intended to attract graduate students with superior research capabilities who can make significant contributions to the university’s research enterprise as part of their graduate education. The goals of doctoral education are both excellence and relevance, not broad coverage. Opportunities for joint PhD programs and related collaborations with the University of Massachusetts Medical School will leverage our strengths in biomedical engineering and the life sciences.

Effective marketing and recruitment of graduate students, and efficient handling of applications, financial aid awards, and related students needs, are critical elements of enrollment success. Institutional resources should be leveraged to the maximum extent possible (such as in making multiple-year commitments of financial support to outstanding applicants, even though the precise form of the out-year support may not be known), in order to attract and retain outstanding students.

Graduate students constitute an important component of our campus community, and should be afforded every consideration regarding campus services, including residential, academic, and social life. The re-establishment of a Dean for Research and Graduate Education provides a focal point for these considerations.

Relationships with key corporations will be strengthened to provide additional opportunities for research collaboration and funding, and for career opportunities for graduate students.

Goal 4: Support and value a high quality of campus life and sense of community

While the previous strategic plan took a quantitative approach to goals for diversity, we propose now to focus more on pluralism and the respect for differences in all aspects of campus life, including within academic programs. It is important that all qualified individuals find a welcoming and supportive environment at WPI.

We will emphasize a customer-service orientation to staff services via personnel training, evaluation, recognition, and reward. We will make WPI a leader in career opportunities for women through such efforts as targeted marketing and outreach programs to women faculty and students, a review of the tenure and promotion processes to ensure equitable treatment, and a formal mentoring program for young women scholars.

We will promote student learning outcomes including leadership, community involvement, moral development, conflict resolution, social awareness, world citizenship, personal responsibility and student satisfaction as important goals for campus life.

We will foster a stronger sense of community through living and learning spaces that create new opportunities for connection, including the recently-opened residence hall, which will bring more undergraduate students back to campus; the Goat’s Head restaurant in Founder’s Hall; and the forthcoming sports and recreation center.

We will ensure appropriate observance of significant civic, cultural, and religious dates and holidays (e.g., WPI Founders’ Day, Martin Luther King Day, Veterans’ Day, major religious dates); we will increase the number of outside speakers on a broad range of important topics; and we will encourage service to the Worcester community.

We will continue to promote particular enrollment goals in order to increase and secure the quality of the undergraduate population, including recruiting aggressively outside New England and abroad, increasing female enrollment, and attracting strong students from underrepresented minorities.

Goal 5: Develop campus facilities according to an explicit plan for supporting academic and co-curricular needs and property maintenance.

The recently opened Sports and Recreation Center represents the central pillar of a larger facilities plan that calls for the creation of 600 new parking spaces beneath the baseball and softball playing fields that sit atop the covering deck; the renovation of Harrington Auditorium; the demolition of the structure connecting Harrington to Alumni Gym; and the rehabilitation of Alumni Gym for academic or administrative use.

The opening of the new WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park has brought world-class facilities for research and graduate education for the life sciences and biomedical engineering. A primary use of the space released on the main campus is to create an undergraduate science laboratory center in Goddard Hall, and to provide additional classrooms and faculty offices in Salisbury Hall. These are important projects to complete in a timely fashion.

There remains a need for additional academic space on the main campus, space that would better reflect our distinctive modes of teaching and learning, as well as the contemporary style of collaborative work in many research and corporate settings. Such a facility would provide small spaces for project teams, open spaces for organized collaborations, and classrooms well appointed with appropriate technologies. With the opening of the new Sports and Recreation Center, the old structure, Alumni Gym, is available to be renovated into such a dynamic space. Philanthropic support will be needed to realize this goal, and plans are underway to achieve this important goal. WPI recently established a school of business with programs rooted in its strengths in technology, engineering, and science with a strong emphasis on the processes of innovation and entrepreneurship. This new school has found space in the new Gateway Center but as growth continues, it may be necessary to relocate to a dedicated building with complete, modern teaching facilities, faculty offices, and student support spaces.

Additional residence facilities should be constructed, in part to replace aging current buildings and further to increase overall residential capacity to approximately 70 percent of the undergraduate population (including fraternity and sorority houses).

More generally, a comprehensive plan and schedule for the renovation and preservation of existing buildings, especially Stratton and Kaven Halls and the Project Center, must be developed.

Goal 6: Promote WPI as a national university.

WPI remains relatively unrecognized outside the northeast United States. We will continue to promote the excellent work of our faculty and students, and the University’s leadership in engineering and science education and research.

It is important to continue to expand the university’s applicant pool—an effort that will be aided significantly by a strengthened national profile. In this regard WPI will ensure that its marketing and enrollment strategies are aligned, that it vigorously promote WPI as a leader in global technological education, and that proper cultivation is accomplished with key guidance and advising personnel at secondary schools.

Goal 7: Develop non-traditional sources of revenue as a means of strengthening WPI financially and keeping it affordable.

WPI remains dependent upon tuition revenues as its dominate source of funding. Accordingly, we will seek to enhance other revenues sources through the continue building the Division of Corporate and Professional Education, to provide custom programs (both credit and non-credit) to corporate clients, career development opportunities to individuals, and labor force development programming to the region. We will continue developing Gateway Park as a mixed-use, science-based neighborhood providing opportunities for corporate partnerships and income from rents and ground leases. We will increase faculty sponsored research to fund investments in research infrastructure, released time for faculty researchers, and support for graduate students. Additionally, we will strengthen our Summer Term programs to provide a richer variety of opportunities for a wider range of students.

Goal 8: Improve Alumni Relations

More than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate alumni comprise the largest component of the WPI family. Their active participation in our community, and their continuing interest and support are vitally important to the university’s success. We will strengthen our relationship to alumni by providing enhanced career services; providing an on-line community (; expanding the number of regional alumni clubs; reforming the alumni leadership structure; and engaging faculty more directly in alumni relations. The number and significance of the ways in which alumni can contribute to WPI’s mission will be expanded.

In summary, we seek to develop a new, shared vision for WPI’s future, embodied in a comprehensive multiyear plan that will serve as a blueprint for crucial investments in people, programs, and physical plant. Our proposed strategic goals will touch virtually every aspect of life and learning at WPI. They will enhance our capacity to teach the next generation of educated citizens and leaders in a wide range of fields of study and professions, promote and expand knowledge through research, and serve society through both. We offer this initial draft for your consideration and comment.

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