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Dean Mark Rutgers answers three questions about the Faculty Strategic Plan

For the past year, a steering group has been working hard on the new Faculty Strategic Plan (FSP) for 2022-2027 and the corresponding Implementation Agenda. A number of working groups have also carried out a stakeholder analysis, and several consultation rounds have been held with various bodies, including the Societal Relevance Advisory Committee and the Faculty Council. Two online consultation meetings were also organised for staff and students. So, how is the FSP progressing? Mark Rutgers, Dean and Chair of the FSP Steering Committee, answers three questions about the new Faculty Strategic Plan.

2022 is just around the corner. Will the FSP be ready by the end of the year?

Mark Rutgers: ‘I suppose the answer to that question is “yes and no”. The Faculty Council has just approved the FSP, which outlines our mission, vision, strategic goals and ambitions. It was a huge task to process all the input and feedback we received into a sound plan that addresses all the challenges and reflects our ambitions. We also had to ensure that our Faculty Plan would tie in well with the University Strategic Plan that was being developed at the same time and which will be presented at the Dies Natalis on 8 February. The FSP also requires an accompanying Implementation Agenda, which sets out all the activities and measures that we will need to undertake in the coming years to achieve our goals. We are in the process of preparing a draft Implementation Agenda in collaboration with the Faculty Board, after which we will discuss it with the department heads, academic directors, heads and management teams of the institutes and other stakeholders. So, it will be the middle of next year before the Implementation Agenda is approved and can be presented.’

What are the biggest challenges and greatest ambitions in the FSP?

‘Our biggest challenge is the funding of education and research, but there is only so much we can do to influence that. So, we need to focus on the things we can change so that we are able to tackle external influences, such as funding and the corresponding recognition of the humanities. As a Faculty, we need to become a well-oiled organisation, in which cooperation is second nature, colleagues are able to look beyond the walls of their own institution, we embrace diversity and inclusivity, and we are mindful of the balance of work. Throughout this pandemic, we have seen just how committed everyone is to their work, but there is a limit. We need to give our colleagues the tools they need to continue their development and to find the right work-life balance, and to offer a pleasant working environment. The working environment was, of course, the subject of much debate during the development of the Humanities Campus. Our main objective hasn’t changed: we want to offer everyone, now and in the future, a pleasant working environment, in which we can meet each other but also get on with our work undisturbed. By establishing smart, strategic partnerships within and outside the faculty, both internationally and across disciplines, we stand the best chance of securing funding for our research. We also need to take good care of our students – not only within the degree programmes in terms of providing high-quality education, educational innovations and digital humanities, but also by preparing them for the labour market, ensuring a good social climate in which they can develop and offering support to those who run into difficulties. Finally, we must show society exactly what and how the humanities can contribute to resolving societal issues. This is just a very brief sketch of the FSP, of course.’

So, what’s next? When will the faculty community have the opportunity to provide input or feedback on the Implementation Agenda? And when will the FSP be ready?

‘The FSP will be presented to the Executive Board before the end of the year, after which we will share it with the rest of the faculty. The department heads, academic directors and other stakeholders will discuss the draft version of the Implementation Agenda in January and February. Then, in March, we will organise a general meeting and contact the various bodies. We expect that the whole process will be completed by the end of this academic year, and we will start implementing our new plan in the 2022-2023 academic year. But that doesn’t mean that we will be twiddling our thumbs until then. Many plans are underway and will, of course, be continued, but it is always good to highlight the moment at which we will start preparing for the future with new élan.’

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