Rood Comments 20080118
A bunch of things on the strategy ...
1) I know Tamas needs something as a foundation to work from soon, and I apologize (last time) for my tardiness in not pushing this more aggressively. I would advocate that we consider this a first iteration that Tamas can work from rather than fait accompli. I am sure that what is ultimately developed will have something very similar to this at its core.
I have a couple of very harsh emails from back when we did the last hiring about not feeling that there was really a "shared vision." I would advocate that we extract some of the mission/goals and then open them for more discussion. I doubt if there will be a sea-change so that any short term needs can be anchored around the core that we have
I especially want the new hires to have a chance for more input. They are the people who will be executing the plan, and they are the people who are taking the department to new places after 5 years. They need to build careers and tenure in this plan, and they need to be more vested and out of their offices. 2) I think that Len's ideas of focusing around a set of strategic, integrating, interdisciplinary themes is worth some discussion. The reasons: They are intrinsically strategic and would help us "draw a picture." At least in case of climate, I would like to see the development of some sort of University wide climate institute, center, graduate certificate ... something. I would like to see AOSS and CoE have a real place at the table for this. We need to have more than a faculty or two trying to make connections - we need to make some sort of concerted effort. When I advocated this a year or so ago I was told that the institute energy had been spent on energy, and it would be 2-3 years before another institute of that scale would be formed. If we can sit physical climate in proper relation to other members of such an institute then it would be excellent for our competitiveness and influence.
It would be nice if we could have a more substantive relation with the energy institute or the Erb institute. Again there is physical climate information that is useful in those institutes, and it would be nice to have it more formally integrated. I don't know enough about some of the other foci Len suggests. I just don't know, not questioning. My sense is that in the end our strategy needs to be anchored around the core which we "own" and that these centers need to sit in some relationship to these core strengths. An important concept at least for the climate and weather sorts is to start thinking of our problem with more balance of the scientific investigation of climate problems posed by other elements of society (or departments), rather than the scientifically driven reduction of uncertainty in the climate problem (still an important problem, but it works on different times scales, and serves a more limited community.)
3) I would like to see a little more distinction between research goals and "excellence" and the business model / metrics. They are both elements of the strategy, and I think that Tamas engaging with the business model has be a key part of our successes. I think that the ideas that Paul addressed in the note I attached on the wiki are worthy of further discussion.
4) I believe that we need to get more concrete about how to diversify our sources of funding. Other universities that I visited before coming to Michigan were much more engaged with foundations, etc. We also need to have more concerted efforts to get into Homeland Security, DoD, Public Health, etc. We need some sort of "development" strategy. This could be strongly linked to the development of the strategic interdisciplinary activities.
5) We need to pay some attention to how our curriculum needs to be changed to meet our departmental goals, and I will parrot another statement earlier from Len ... we need to think about the care and feeding the masters program. 6) I imagine a plan that has a number of elements that are related. The obvious ones are research, education, and service. In addition we must recognize that some sort of "business" strategy and metrics are required. These elements are guided both by external factors and our own initiative. divergently yours,