President's Remarks at Strategic Planning Workshop, Jan. 30, 2013

Welcome, everyone. And thanks, all of you, for being here and contributing to this incredibly important strategic planning process.

Your presence in this full ballroom — ready to participate in an effort that will mean so much to Marquette's future — is a great sign of this community's restless pursuit of improvement. It's a sign of Marquette's incredible potential.

As you know, all year we have been having a vital conversation about where, together, we will take Marquette in the course of the next five, seven, 10 years. So many of you have been a part of these conversations, and I thank you for your contributions. Our work together has revealed a strong and clear vision for Marquette. It has given us core themes that will guide us today and into the future.

Throughout this process, if we have heard anything loud and clear, it has been the need to collaborate and about the powerful things that happen when we reach across traditional departmental boundaries to cooperate with one another. Along the way, we've learned the importance of preparing our students for a world that demands they cross boundaries.

With this planning process reaching the critical milestone of this afternoon — which is the creation of concrete goals — it is the right time to bring our community together to collaborate and to help shape this plan toward its final stages.

There will be other times for me to speak about my perceptions of the university and its direction, which is what I'd typically do at this time of the year. But this isn't a typical year.

Today is about the university community having a forum that promotes reaching across traditional boundaries. If you think about it, that was the genius of Father Marquette: to reach out fearlessly, to explore, to imagine the future. In that spirit, you are sitting at tables with colleagues from across campus, not across the hallway, which is more common.

Jeanne Hossenlopp will be on stage next to help explain exactly how we'll structure our work today on goals. She will help explain how we are defining goals and how we're distinguishing them from the objectives, priorities and outcome measures that will flow from them and spell out where we'll go.

I just want to share some advice for you to consider:

  • Today is about university-wide goal setting, so please think outside your department or division. What goals will help advance education across Marquette's full range of colleges and departments?
  • Try to break away from your day-to-day role. Be creative. What would you see for Marquette when you think about the university in a more holistic way? And don't afraid to be bold about that.
  • This is called a workshop, but don't view it as work. Have fun. Think out loud. Use words. Draw pictures if that helps.
  • Not every idea will ultimately make it into the plan, but all of your ideas will influence us as we determine the goals that will be included in the plan. So don't hold back. At this stage of the game, there are no bad ideas.

Finally, realize that we are engaged in a time-honored Jesuit tradition. As long as there have been Jesuit colleges and universities, there have been educators just like you "reading the signs of the times" and determining how to best use the gifts at their disposal to extend knowledge and prepare students for lives as leaders — agents of change — in a world waiting to be more gentle, more just.

So we should take the advice that St. Ignatius himself offered to his fellow Jesuits at times like this. He realized that our first instinct can be to dissect or debate a colleague's idea. (Those familiar with the Jesuits know we can be quick to dissect and debate an idea.) Instead, he urged us to take a creative, generous view. Aim for the best possible interpretation of someone's idea, not the most critical. Ignatius called this giving each other "the plus sign." And it's as valuable now as it was in the 16th century. When we give each other "the plus sign" our ideas begin to build on each other in ways that we never could have previously imagined.

One last note, if a bat comes in the room...we will shut out the lights, but please keep working.

Again, thank you for joining us today. I can't wait to hear your ideas for the future of this great university.

Strategic Planning image

Beyond Boundaries

Branded Strategic Plan Document CoverApproved by Marquette's Board of Trustees in
May 2013, Beyond Boundaries: Setting the Course for Marquette's Future builds on the bold spirit that has always blessed Marquette University. In seeking to carry forward this tradition today, the university community collectively developed a clear vision of the qualities that must distinguish the Marquette of tomorrow. This strategic plan website was established as a vehicle for the campus community to learn about the strategic plan development and implementation process.