Dear Clemson Family: 2020Forward Strategic Plan Update

July 27, 2015

Dear Clemson Family,

Last week, we had the opportunity to brief the Board of Trustees on the 2020Forward strategic plan, and I’m pleased to report that they support the key concepts and charged us to return this fall with a final plan for their official endorsement.

Included among those key concepts are: a sustained commitment to quality in all we do; high-impact engagement as a cornerstone of undergraduate education; growth in research and doctoral enrollment with emphasis on areas where we can achieve national prominence; making Clemson an exceptional place to work; and increasing our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. The plan also retains many of the principles of the 2020 Road Map – including a Top 20 national ranking, an aggressive capital improvement plan, and continued commitment to outreach and economic progress for South Carolina.

I also updated the board on progress in developing a plan for diversity. Over the past few months, we have held dozens of meetings with faculty, staff, students and alumni about how we can improve the climate for diversity and inclusion. In addition, diversity emerged as a consistent theme from each and every strategic planning team. Based on all of this input, we have developed a framework for a plan that we will begin implementing this fall. I will appoint a Diversity Advisory Council before the fall semester to provide counsel to me, the new Chief Diversity Officer and the administrative leadership team and help set priorities.

The diversity plan has four pillars:


  • First, develop and implement a strategic plan to increase the diversity of the student body, staff, faculty and administration, with measurable goals, which will be a charge for the new Chief Diversity Officer.


  • Second, promote greater cultural awareness and a sense of community, which is the focus of several initiatives launched last spring, such as the monthly student dialogue lunches and a planned lecture series.


  • Third, assess and enhance the effectiveness of existing diversity initiatives and support services. As part of this effort, the Gantt Multicultural Center will become part of the Office of Diversity – to enhance coordination and better leverage the expertise and resources of each unit.


  • Fourth, we will better document and communicate the history of Clemson, including the role of African Americans and other under-represented groups. We have initiated the process with state authorities to add a series of markers to campus to document this often overlooked part of our history- pending final board review and approval.


The board’s resolution about accurately portraying Clemson’s history will support this effort. I applaud the board for opening a discussion on Benjamin Tillman, and I look forward to assisting the task force with their work.  Evaluating, discussing, critiquing and debating important issues are what great universities do to arrive at the best solutions. Understanding and communicating the full story of Clemson’s history is an important part of creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment.

Finally — we presented the most strongly supported college reorganization model, and the board appreciated the logic and offered tentative approval, pending further development.  They, and we, understand that college reorganization can be quite challenging, and they encouraged us to continue to work on a reorganization plan that will not only provide optimal academic structures, but also minimal impact on administrative costs.

My sincere thanks to all of you who have participated in the strategic planning process, and to the leadership team of Dr. Ellen Granberg, Vice President Brett Dalton and – most of all – Provost Bob Jones, whose tireless efforts and constant encouragement have helped us reach this point.

As a next step, the Provost will appoint small leadership teams to refine the plans for board review in October. With their final approval, we anticipate launching the 2020Forward strategic plan January 1, 2016, and college reorganization July 1, 2016. We will continue to keep you informed on these important developments. Thank you for all you do for Clemson.



Jim Clements

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