Strategic plan refresh helps Mason refine goals

Mason President Angel Cabrera (standing) and the leaders of the working groups (sitting) presented an overview of the Strategic Plan Update at a town hall meeting Nov. 16 in the Johnson Center Cinema on the Fairfax Campus. Town Hall on the Strategic Plan Update at Johnson Center Cinema on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by Ron Aira.

At a town hall Thursday in a packed Johnson Center Cinema, George Mason University unveiled a draft of an updated version of the university’s strategic plan, including metrics, accomplishments and possible next steps that will help guide George Mason’s development over the next several years.

Mason President Ángel Cabrera, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Communications and Marketing Frank Neville and eight strategic plan working group leaders conducted a 90-minute presentation and discussion related to the 12 goals in the plan and solicited feedback from the faculty and staff on hand. You can access a video recording of the town hall here. 

Neville said the strategic plan revision is a work in progress and that faculty and staff can provide feedback at the plan website through Dec. 5. The final updated plan will be presented to the Board of Visitors on Dec. 13.

Because much has changed at the university since 2012, when the 18-month drafting of the original plan began, the update was necessary to more accurately reflect the Mason of 2017-18, working group leaders said.

For example, when the university first began to develop the plan, one of the goals was to, within 10 years, become a Tier 1 research university as determined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Mason achieved that goal in early 2016.

“Strategic plans have to be living documents,” Cabrera said. “We know more about our reality, we know more about some of these goals. This is a very good time to pause and do a little bit of a refresh of the plan … so we can get our minds and our hearts and our hands together for another successful … five years.”

Many other ambitions also have been realized since work began on the original plan. That version preceded new partnerships with Inova, INTO and Northern Virginia Community College, along with new online learning ventures through partnerships with Wiley and the Online Virginia Network. It also preceded construction of the Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall, the plans to rebuild Robinson Hall, the Student Experience Redesign project, the launching of several new degree programs, key hires related to innovation and research, major grants awarded to Mason and five consecutive years of enrollment growth.

Redefining 2013-14 goals with 2017-18 wisdom and insight will provide a clearer direction forward for the university.

“Great organizations have a great sense of the ‘why’ – why it is we exist,” Cabrera said. “We know what we’re about: We’re a great public university, we’re a great research university, truly committed to making a difference in the world around us through education.”


The eight leaders, representing four working groups, who made presentations at the Strategic Plan Update forum were Deborah Crawford, vice president, Research; Rick Davis, dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts; Kim Eby, associate provost, Faculty Affairs and Development; Brad Edwards, assistant vice president, Intercollegiate Athletics; Sean Mallon, associate vice president, Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Rose Pascarell, vice president, University Life; Bethany Usher, associate provost, Undergraduate Education; and Julian Williams, vice president, Compliance, Diversity and Ethics.