A view of a sidewalk on the tree-covered Mall on Penn State University Park campus in fall.


This document articulates The Pennsylvania State University’s institution-wide strategic plan for the five calendar years comprising 2016 through 2020.

This comprehensive plan, in which we identify our direction at a macro level and set a strong foundation for where we are headed, includes input from and work by a wide range of stakeholders, including trustees, faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students, staff members, academic and administrative leaders, and alumni. University-level planning was also informed by the strategic plans of each college, campus, and major administrative unit. Especially pivotal to the planning process were the energy, expertise, and insights of Penn State’s University Strategic Planning Council—an inclusive, 32-member body charged by Penn State President Eric J. Barron and chaired by Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones.

Imperatives outlined by President Barron upon his arrival in 2014, ideas developed in the unit planning process, and opportunities identified by numerous committees regarding institutional priorities and operations provided the plan’s groundwork, and substantial, constructive feedback was solicited and received throughout the planning cycle from many constituencies through multiple mechanisms. All feedback was carefully considered as the plan evolved.

Ultimately, the notion of strategic planning—especially for a university—is no longer a static, specific-goal-driven process. We must be adaptive, and use real-time information and developments as they become available to inform and guide us in the direction that is most effective for the University. In turn, this plan for Penn State purposely does not identify specific initiatives to undertake or metrics to measure their success. These, along with detailed objectives and tactics, will emerge and evolve University-wide during the implementation of this strategic plan. Implementation ultimately will require understanding how the specific activities across departments, colleges, and other units align with the overarching strategies articulated herein.

This plan begins with a reaffirmation of Penn State’s mission as the Commonwealth’s land-grant University. Core institutional values are identified and defined, followed by the articulation of foundations that will support every step of the plan’s implementation. These foundations are aligned with the imperatives outlined by President Barron. Five thematic priorities follow—emerging strategic areas of emphasis where Penn State has identified significant opportunities to achieve strong, positive impacts, but not at the exclusion or minimization of other important endeavors. Supporting elements identify areas in which operational attention will be required to achieve the plan’s goals, while implementation approaches frame broadly how the University will move forward—from plan to relevant follow-up action to, ultimately, impact.