University’s long-range planning in step with Stanford Medicine

The provost and the medical school’s dean discussed the university’s long-range planning process and how it aligns with Stanford Medicine’s integrated strategic plan.

Persis Drell

The overarching areas of the university’s long-range planning process — research, education, community and engagement beyond Stanford — are “inextricably intertwined” with Stanford Medicine, Provost Persis Drell, PhD said April 4 at a town hall meeting in the Clark Center auditorium.

The lunchtime event drew about 125 members of the Stanford Medicine community to hear Drell and Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, present updates and answer questions about the long-range planning process. Drell noted that the university’s process began about a year ago with a goal to answer the question: What do we want Stanford to be one to two decades from now?

“You might say things are great today,” Drell said. “But we know that the great research university is going to look different 10 to 20 years from now. We have to change in order to be even more relevant in the decades to come.”

The university is “still making the sausage,” as Drell put it, referring to the ongoing effort to review and synthesize the input from community members. That input was initially handled by four steering groups and synthesized into 37 white papers. University leaders will present the findings to the board of trustees on April 9; they also plan to share the findings with the larger campus community on May 15.

The university began its planning process by asking faculty, staff and students to submit ideas. “We had over 2,800 of those,” Minor said. “Over 600 of those related to biomedicine. There are some themes that emerged. Those themes will be incorporated into one of the areas of the university’s long-range plan called ‘Life and Health.’”

The key pillars of Stanford Medicine’s integrated strategic plan — value-focused, digitally driven and uniquely Stanford — align with the evolving goals of the university, Minor said. The goal to be digitally driven, for example, is not restricted to data about human health but also relates to the ways in which modern biomedical research is conducted, he said. “Today, a third or more of the School of Engineering faculty are focused on biomedical problems, and the statistics faculty and other quantitatively based disciplines have faculty now drawn to biomedical problems,” he said. “One of the main reasons is that biology has grown up as a science, and is now firmly a quantitative science. Therefore, people whose backgrounds are in quantitative approaches to science are now attracted to study biological and biomedical problems.”

After their opening remarks, Drell and Minor opened the floor for questions and discussion. Some of the topics raised were how to improve sustainability; how staff on individual units and departments can participate in the planning process; how to improve relationships with the city and county governments; how to further enhance Stanford’s already-strong culture of collaboration; and how to develop a more diverse community — not only in recruiting, but in fostering an environment where everyone is comfortable.

A clear message throughout the discussion — and, according to Drell and Minor, throughout the planning process so far — was the energy and desire of the members of the university, including Stanford Medicine, to make meaningful contributions to the world, and to continue to make Stanford better.

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