In June 2011, the VCU BOV approved Quest for Distinction, a six-year strategic plan that would guide the university until the end of the 2017-18 academic year.
Quest's implementation provided the university a roadmap to becoming a premier urban, public research university focused on academic quality and student success. The plan provides a strategic framework for capitalizing on the outstanding assets that form the VCU experience — a commitment to educational quality, an environment that embraces diversity, an evolving research program with substantial increases in extramural funding, pre-eminent academic programs, an engaged community and a growing alumni base. It is an aggressive call to focused action that requires a disciplined concentration on strategic priorities and a commitment to accountability, using data to inform decisions.
In fall 2014, President Rao tasked the Office of the Provost with implementing a mid-term assessment/re-evaluation of VCU’s strategic plan, Quest for Distinction, to ensure that the university is positioned to complete the plan in the strongest position possible. The project, called Focusing Quest, was introduced to the University Council in October 2014.
Four work groups representing key constituents were formed from the Council of Dean’s, the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate and the Student Government Association. Chairs of each work group were selected. The groups were asked to:
1. Review what had been accomplished to date;
2. Identify what was left to do, ideally focusing on one or two high priority goals from each theme;
3. Recommend a priority ranking for those items remaining – beginning with those that are considered critical;
4. Recommend additional goals that were not a priority when the plan was adopted in 2011; and
5. Focus on those priorities, define metrics, estimate costs and build into planning.
Over the course of three months, each group reached consensus on priorities, submitted group reports, and approved a combined report that was submitted to President Rao and the President’s Cabinet and then broadly to the VCU community for comment in early February 2015.
After approval by the President and cabinet and review by the Academic and Health Affairs Committee of the VCU Board of Visitors, the newly refocused themes and goals were presented to the Quest Implementation Steering Committee (QISC) in March 2015 to align existing Quest strategies and metrics and to begin work on potential new strategies and metrics for the remainder of the plan.
QISC completed its preliminary work and presented suggested strategies and metrics to the president, the cabinet, and all academic deans for review and further analysis. In August 2015 university leadership presented recommendations and formed consensus. The resulting document was approved by the president and cabinet on September 22, 2015.