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NatSci releases collegewide strategic plan

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The MSU College of Natural Science (NatSci) has completed a new strategic plan that articulates a shared vision and direction for the college.

Image of the front cover of the strategic plan
The College of Natural Science's five-year plan (2022-2026) will serve as a framework for the college’s key priorities. Courtesy photo

The five-year plan (2022-2026) will serve as a framework for the college’s key priorities, including academic excellence and student success, research to advance society’s health and well-being, building strong partnerships and collaborations to broaden and strengthen our efforts, and creating a safe, equitable and inclusive environment for all.

“This strategic plan is a co-created consensus document developed by the NatSci community over the past two years to identify strategic priorities, goals, and metrics that provide a roadmap for the college as we pursue our vision and mission,” Duxbury said. “With this strategy, we clarify our priorities, core values, and intended outcomes so that we can effectively channel our energy and resources.”

In the development of the plan, the college strove to be as open and inclusive as possible. This approach involved several phases that began with foundational work conducted by Working Group teams in the areas of DEI; graduate and undergraduate education; research; and vision, mission, and values.  A 15-member Strategic Integration Team and Editorial Board/Writing Team were then established to take this work—along with several rounds of collegewide feedback and input—and develop the strategic plan.

“I am grateful for the dedication and efforts of the initial Working Groups, the Strategic Integration Team and the Editorial Board in keeping the engagement and momentum going,” Duxbury said. “It took the input of many individuals to create this plan and I greatly appreciate the contributions made by our students, staff, faculty, and alumni to this process."

The strategic plan identifies key goals and action items within six main themes:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Student success
  • Research excellence
  • Global/national/ state priorities and grand challenges
  • Communications, development, and outreach
  • Transparency, accountability, and professionalism

“The central four themes of the plan [2-5] speak to what we want to accomplish, while the first and last themes are about how the college needs to go about it,” Duxbury said. “The bookends of diversity, equity and inclusion and a commitment to conduct ourselves in ways that contribute to the greater good are threaded throughout the plan and are integral to all that we do,” Duxbury said.

Among the metrics that were developed to help drive and support the college’s strategic priorities and express the aspirations of the plan are:

  • Improve inclusion. Recruit and retain 25 tenure stream faculty members who increase our diversity. Double the number of students in the Charles Drew Science Scholars program.
  •  Enhance the undergraduate experience. Retain 60 percent of incoming NatSci students through graduation. Boost the number of students proceeding to health professions by 30 percent. Raise the starting salary of employed graduates by 50 percent.
  • Strengthen graduate student success. Double our federal training grants. Double career training programs. Improve mentoring of graduate students.
  • Grow research excellence. Double the number of our research programs with Top 5 rankings. Increase federal research funding by 50 percent.
  • Cultivate community relationships. Boost participation in community educational and outreach activities by 30 percent. Increase partnerships with key industries and businesses, foundations, and educational institutions by 25 percent. Foster more diverse partnerships.

“This strategic plan is a forward-facing, living document that builds on existing strengths and develops new opportunities in a student-focused academic environment characterized by low barriers and a historic willingness to collaborate and cooperate in education, research, and service,” Duxbury said.

To keep the plan relevant and nimble will require an ongoing process of broad discussions and considerations as the college navigates its way through what promises to be some interesting and challenging times.

“It is our hope that this plan will spark the vision, insight, and innovation necessary to successfully address current and future challenges, and to excel in this rapidly changing world,” Duxbury added. “Taking action on our strategy will help us accomplish our mission and move toward the world we envision – a thriving planet and healthy communities through scientific discovery.” 


Banner image: The College of Natural Science (NatSci) at Michigan State University is home to 27 departments and programs in the biological, physical, and mathematical sciences. The college averages $57M in research expenditures annually, while providing world-class educational opportunities to more than 5,500 undergraduate majors and 1,200 graduate and postdoc students. There are 800+ faculty and academic staff associated with NatSci, and more than 63,000 living alumni worldwide. Credit: Harley J. Seeley