The strategic planning process at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been designed to invite input from as much of the community as possible. In 2017, planning began with the formation of a Strategic Planning Visioning Committee, composed of faculty, staff, administrators, and board members. The Visioning Committee conducted a community-wide survey and focus groups in Spring 2017, analyzing the results over the summer. In Fall 2017, 15 topic areas gleaned from these results formed the basis for focus group discussions held widely across the School, including meetings of constituents like Student Government, the Faculty Senate, Dean’s Cabinet, President’s Cabinet, Department Heads, Administrative Directors, Student Affairs, the Board of Governors, alums, and many others, as well as over 120 focus groups in classrooms across the campus. The results of this widespread participation informed a Community Event in December 2017, which invited the whole community to participate in discussions and self-guided exercises that gathered additional feedback.

During the spring 2018 semester, the Visioning Committee distilled the results of this extensive data collection into four main topics, which are:

  • The Future of Art and Design Education
  • Community and Engagement
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Affordability

Four, new topical groups, primarily comprised of part- and full-time faculty, staff, and students new to planning committees, explored each topic further, reviewing data and brainstorming approaches to addressing each topic’s concerns. They summarized their work in four topical documents, which informed the Visioning Committee’s iterative process of drafting and revising the strategic plan. Contained herein is that strategic plan, known as NEXT.

Each of the seven initiatives in NEXT seeks to address multiple concerns of the SAIC community by addressing multiple topics simultaneously, as suggested by the Venn diagram above. NEXT is an expression of the hopes and aspirations gathered from throughout the SAIC community. Some initiatives point to projects already underway. Some seek to actualize long-standing desires. And some contain new wisdom in need of further development.

NEXT, then, is not an overly prescriptive plan. Instead, implementation of the plan welcomes the wisdom and effort of individuals from throughout the SAIC community. Beginning in the 2018–19 academic year, committees will be formed and tasked with developing multi-year action plans to achieve the goals of NEXT. A recruitment process will be conducted in an effort to locate individuals who would like to serve on these committees and to ensure committees include individuals representing all of the School’s constituencies, including part- and full-time faculty, staff, students, alums, and others. A steering committee constituted by representatives of each initiative’s group will help coordinate cross-initiative efforts, periodically report to the School community on the progress of the plan, and help committees identify opportunities for ongoing feedback and exchange with constituent groups.

The work of the strategic plan is anticipated to take three to five years to complete. The timeline below provides an outline of the work that has taken place during the planning phase and begins to sketch out the implementation work that comes NEXT.