Strategic Plan
Fall 2017 - Fall 2022

Strategic Plan (PDF)




Our science transforms the human experience
and inspires leaders.


We will be global leaders in top-tier research while advancing
engaged learning and societal well-being.




MSU_Africa Historians_from left - Alegi+Achebe+Hawthorne+Monson_square.jpgI. Research Excellence. Our scholars engage in sustained research excellence that demonstrates thought leadership. We will increase national and international recognition for top-tier and impactful research that addresses societal challenges.

MSU is ranked #1 nationally in African History.


I.A. Thematic Areas:  The College will support 3-5 thematic areas of research that advance our ability to address societal issues and will achieve national and international recognition

I.B. Collaborations: The College will facilitate and recognize collaborations within and across fields.

I.C. Faculty expectations: The College will ensure that each unit defines, communicates, implements and supports high scholarship standards to increase our national and international reputation.

I.D. PhD support: The College will prioritize and support successful and effective doctoral fields.

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  • Increase faculty research productivity by 50% to the top half of the Association of American Universities

  • Increase percentage of faculty as principal investigator on external grants by 20%

  • Increase percentage of PhD students with excellent placements by 50%

  • Increase number of faculty with national awards and recognitions by 25% 



micaela-procopio-in-israel-1_tsdlg_crop_square.jpgII. Learning. Our students acquire the communication and analytical skills needed to excel in complex and changing environments. We will enhance opportunities to develop these skills through engaged and experiential learning.

Our new experiential learning requirement includes study abroad, study away, service learning and civic engagement, or research experience.


II.A. Skill development: Our faculty will enhance our students’ educational and career success by developing their practical and adaptive skills.

II.B. Experiential and Engaged learning: The College will increase the number, variety, and quality of experiential and engaged learning opportunities.

II.C. Opportunity gaps: In order to reduce differential persistence, graduation and rates of academic good standing the College will develop and improve mechanisms to support at-risk students in our ISS and large-enrollment courses.


  • Reduce opportunity gaps for underrepresented minority, first generation and low income students in ISS and large-enrollment courses by 50%

  • Improve six-year graduation rate by 5%, meeting or exceeding the MSU target

  • Increase successful placement rates of students in appropriate careers and graduate or professional programs by 10%



2017_CSS_Gala-1192_square.jpgIII. Diversity and Inclusion. Our college is open and welcoming, deriving strength from a plurality of identities and lived experiences. We will build a more diverse and inclusive environment to fulfill our mission, consistent with University policies and state and federal law.

Creating an environment where diverse accomplishments are recognized and valued.



III.A. Inclusive climate: The College will ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment for its students, faculty, and staff.

III.B. Faculty hiring and retention: The College will increase the proportion of tenure-system under-represented faculty utilizing aggressive recruitment, outreach and retention strategies. 

III.C. Develop future faculty: The College and its units will develop programs to increase the proportion of under-represented individuals in the academic pipeline utilizing aggressive recruitment, outreach and retention strategies.

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  • Increase percentage of under-represented tenure-system faculty in the College
  • Increase percentage of under-represented PhD students in good standing in the College



Raduchel_Bill_ECON_0047Holmes_Photography_square.jpgIV. External Engagement. Our identity establishes us as a destination and a source of expertise. We will further connect with alumni and communities.

Recognizing the accomplishments of our alumni.



IV.A. Identity: In coordination with MSU’s central communications team, the College will leverage MSU’s brand to create a unified identity.

IV.B. Alumni engagement: The College will engage alumni and friends to increase support for our mission.

IV.C. Outreach: Our faculty will engage and include academic and external communities to co-create a more visible societal impact.

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  • Increase gifts by 40%

  • Increase external press mentions of faculty research or quotes by faculty as experts by 10%






Quality: We hold ourselves to the highest standards to achieve lasting influence.

Inclusiveness: We foster a culture in which all individuals are valued, respected and engaged so that diverse voices can enrich our work.

Connectivity: We link with campus and external communities to leverage our strengths and collectively realize our shared goals.

Integrity: We are honest, transparent and courageous in our discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

Creativity: We imagine innovative approaches to understand and improve the world.

Empowerment: We equip individuals and communities to make informed and just decisions.



The complexity and scale of societal challenges demand agile and rigorous solutions that can emerge only through exceptional research, teaching and collaborations. This strategic plan advances our land-grant and world-grant legacy, and guides our investments to ensure that we lead in discovering and disseminating essential patterns

of social interactions and decisions.

This plan was developed via an extremely participatory process. Our Strategic Planning Steering Committee was chaired by Department Chair Walter Hawthorne (History) and School Director Mary Finn (Criminal Justice). This group included one tenure-system faculty from each Department and School, many of whom are also affiliated with Centers/Programs/Institutes, as well as two fixed-term faculty, one staff member, three alumni, one undergraduate student, one graduate student, and two representatives from MSU as a whole. The committee met monthly to debate, disagree, and eventually fight for consensus. The discussions were directly informed by a College-wide survey, ably synthesized by the Faculty Advisory Council, regular consultation with Chairs and Directors, and a series of strategic questions explored by the Associate Chairs. In addition, we held two College-wide retreats, together drawing over 450 participants, to solicit feedback and guidance.

I especially want to thank our facilitator, Dr. Alan Glassman. Dr. Glassman planned the meetings, kept the group on track, and continually challenged us to work together
for the improvement of the College.

Developing this plan involved making choices. Implementing it will involve even more choices. Our Vision, Values and Mission will guide us in these choices. Equally importantly, we commit to preserving the spirit of the Steering Committee in working together to realize our College-wide identity and advance the common good.



Dean, College of Social Science