Discoveries

Drive your own discoveries by subscribing to ours.

Inside the Strategic Journey of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Denver

by | Feb 25, 2020 | Discoveries

Share this post

My journey with the College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences at the University of Denver began in the middle of winter – and in the middle of a strategic planning process – in early 2017. I’d just wrapped up Forward. Faster. Strategic Plan 2022  for the Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science at DU. My walk across campus took me from artificial intelligence and robotics to Judaic Studies and theatre. 

The Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Dean, Daniel McIntosh, was leading a faculty-driven process when he discovered a significant challenge. While the college was adept at assessing its strengths and weaknesses, they found it difficult to:

  • objectively scan the world beyond campus;
  • consider trends outside their fields; and
  • frame their plan as an inspiring call-to-action for external partners, funders, and community members. 

“I kept thinking about what needed to change so we could be the best versions ofourselves. We have amazing students, faculty, and staff here,” noted Dean McIntosh. “We didn’t really know how good it was in the aggregate. I’d seen the quality across multiple departments. I wanted to take that quality and turbocharge it.”

Though the dean had the 20,000-foot view that spanned the university, he knew they needed a partner with a 30,000-foot view across the community and a knack for strategic storytelling. He was right; they had a SWOT Analysis that focused internally and a lengthy plan that didn’t inspire. 

Together, Dean McIntosh and I created an iterative process that gathered data, listened with empathy, tested language, generated novel ideas, and aligned faculty and staff. In less than a year, we went from stalled to energized and from status quo to new imaginings.

The result? A commitment to transform a liberal and creative arts education. 

The Passion-Driven Pivot

The Passion-Driven Pivot

“What? You’re a Stanford-educated man. You should do something more noteworthy!” That’s the reaction I got from someone whom I told about my pivot to becoming a self-described “Soul Food Scholar.” Many others reacted similarly, especially women that I tried to date....

Stronger Together: Celebrate the Strategy

Stronger Together: Celebrate the Strategy

Corporate strategy can seem a bit esoteric or heady. It's time to make it real by connecting the dots between corporate strategy and your team's day-to-day work. In my experience, executives underestimate the importance of strategy storytelling, crafting a powerful...