The power of planning
In 2010, leaders at the Gillings School thought it was time to consider where we wanted to be in the year 2020. As with any trip, the chances of getting to one’s destination diminish unless a good map is available, so we wanted to take all the steps that would take us where we needed to be. We invited faculty and staff, students, alumni and members of our boards to participate and offered a variety of options for contributing, including online and in-person formats.
We asked participants to tell us what they wanted the school to be in 2020. Hundreds of people responded. After we’d collected everyone’s comments, we created post-hoc categories in which to group them. Most comments fit into one of eight categories, or nodes (see figure at right). We then ranked and prioritized the nodes, through extensive conversations with internal and external leadership groups. Based on that process, we created task forces in four areas: diversity and inclusion, the global school, teaching and learning, and revenue generation. Since we were at the height of the Great Recession, that latter category was particularly vital. Over the next few years, on different cycles, the task forces analyzed issues, scanned the environment and our peers, and made recommendations.
Some groups, e.g., diversity and inclusion, were quite large and inclusive; the revenue generation task force was much smaller and more focused. At the start of the process, we said that we would be accountable to our communities to deliver on high-priority recommendations as funds were available, with support from the School’s leadership. I wasn’t going to make these decisions without input and support. Over time, we have maintained a timeline to which we add milestones as they are completed. Take a look. We have accumulated a number of important accomplishments, thanks to the hard work, persistence and commitment of many people, internal and external to the School.
Scan our updated flipbook
We’ve updated the SPH2020 flipbook. Checkout what we’ve done. I’m gratified by the work we have accomplished—new classrooms, the Gillings Global Gateway, real steps to grow our diversity and inclusiveness, establishing our Consortium on Implementation Science and a lot more. Soon, we’ll be starting a new task force, chaired by dynamic epidemiology professor Allison Aiello, PhD, which will focus on health disparities issues. I also believe it is time to address one of the most challenging 2020 nodes, the School’s culture. We’re not just plodding along and letting the future happen. We’re leaping into it and creating it.