Executive Summary: NSM Strategic Plan - University of Houston
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Executive Summary: NSM Strategic Plan

The five-year strategic plan for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics focuses in six areas: Organizational Effectiveness, Engagement, Student Success, Faculty, Research, and Graduate Programs. The strategic plan is comprised of strategic priorities in each of the six areas together with initiatives and action steps to address each of the priorities. Action steps are designed to be quantifiable, and each initiative is accompanied by a set of measurable outcomes. The strategic plan is based on the mission, vision, and core values of the College. The core constituencies of a College are students and faculty while the role of the College is to provide a supportive and engaging environment in order to facilitate success. This plan is prospective, quantifiable, and adaptable in order to take advantage of new opportunities and respond to changing landscapes.

Many challenges that face academic units in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics do not divide cleanly into our six chosen areas of strategic priorities. Two of these are diversity and funding. A particular focus in all areas is to increase the representation of underrepresented persons. While this is a different challenge in each unit in the College, common approaches will be employed to accomplish it. With the continued tightening of federal and state funding, the College must be more creative in seeking sources of funding for research and teaching initiatives. Our strategic efforts to seek foundation, special grants, and gift funds cross all of our strategic priority areas. We believe that employing common approaches for cross-cutting challenges will help us to be more successful in achieving our strategic priorities. The overarching goals and core mechanisms for accomplishing them are summarized below for each of the six areas.

Six Strategic Focus Areas

Organizational Effectiveness

The overarching goal in this area is to enhance the services provided by the College. We will reorganize the Dean’s cabinet, optimize standing committee function, and optimize delivery of business and technical services from the College. We will create a new Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and consolidate two undergraduate Associate Deans into one. New College committees will be created and duties assigned to them will be optimized in order to provide coverage for tasks not previously handled. Each committee will report to an appropriate Associate Dean. Finally, the College service entities (Business Office, IT, Facilities) will be enhanced to reduce bureaucracy and provide the key services more efficiently.


The overarching goal of this area is to strengthen the image, reputation, and support of the College. This will be accomplished by expanding development initiatives, strengthening engagement with stakeholders, expanding communication about the College and its successes, and expanding outreach efforts. The involvement of faculty in these activities will be increased through training and increased awareness of their accomplishments.

Student Success

The overarching goal in this area is to build a nation-leading set of academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programs that enhance teaching and learning. This will be accomplished by expanding the quality and diversity of course offerings, providing training in pedagogy to faculty and graduate teaching assistants, providing innovative advising, and enhancing student engagement in the classroom. Engagement of the tenure-track faculty and teaching assistants in these pedagogical innovations is crucial and built into our plan.


The overarching goal in this area is to recruit, develop, and retain the highest quality faculty whose core mission is excellence in research and teaching while providing leadership and service to the broader community. This will be accomplished by recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, increasing the diversity of the faculty, and supporting the development of faculty and research staff. Key factors are to provide competitive research environments and startup packages, identify rising stars among the faculty and target support to them, develop programs to build a pipeline for underrepresented faculty applicants, and enhance the climate in the College to further improve morale.


The overarching goal of this area is to encourage, support, and expand our cutting-edge research at all levels in the College. This will be accomplished by expanding both basic and applied research, and increasing and enhancing world-class research infrastructure. A key approach will be to develop and promote inter-, multi-, and cross-disciplinary research activities. Further, NSM must be strategic and secure new research space, especially taking advantage of space that becomes available due to relocations.

Graduate Programs

The overarching goal of this area is to recruit, educate, and develop the highest quality graduate students while emphasizing breadth and diversity. This will be accomplished by enhancing graduate student recruiting methods, increasing scholarships and fellowships, increasing the stipend, building new graduate programs, and enhancing the graduate experience.

Plan Implementation

An ad hoc College committee will be charged with oversight of the implementation of the strategic plan which will be monitored by the Dean. Responsibilities for implementation will be distributed to the various stakeholder groups (including Associate Deans, College Committees, Department Chairs, College Business Office, College IT, Facilities, etc.) who will then provide semi-annual reports on their progress, including current status of the outcome metrics.

Plan Development Process

The five-year strategic plan for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics resulted from a six-month self-study that began with a SWOT analysis by all academic, administrative, and service units in the College. This included Department Chairs, Associate Deans, Program Directors, Center and Institute Directors, College Business Office, and Service Managers. Six committees were constituted and charged with developing strategic plans in the following areas: Organizational Effectiveness, Engagement, Student Success, Faculty, Research, and Graduate Programs. The committees had access to the SWOT analyses and copies of strategic plans from other similar colleges in the U.S. The resulting strategic plans were presented in an open forum to the entire faculty during and after which everyone was invited to provide comments and advice. A unified strategic plan was created using the six plans and was presented to a number of internal and external stakeholders and advisory groups for feedback and advice. As appropriate, suggestions were incorporated and a second round of feedback solicited from internal and external stakeholders and advisory groups prior to final revisions.

Revision Process

In summer 2018, the six strategic plan committee chairs were asked to review their portions of the plan and to suggest any necessary revisions. The updates included new activities, as well as revisions to reflect new University initiatives such as Research Preeminence: 50 in 5. The executive committee reviewed the suggestions and an updated strategic plan was completed in September 2018.