Strategic Directions

Fountain in SOLES inner courtyard

In 2011-2012, the faculty, administration and members of the SOLES advisory board undertook a significant long term planning process which resulted in the SOLES Strategic Directions for 2012-2015.

Tag Line

SOLES…Where leaders are made.” 

Main Initiatives:

  1. Addressing Societal Challenges
  2. Teaching Excellence
  3. Intellectual Influence
  4. Promote Sustainability

Initiative 1: Addressing Societal Challenges

As a prominent education and human services school we must confront important human challenges. Through our Centers and Departments, we marshal academic expertise from across the disciplinary spectrum to produce research and programming of contemporary social relevance.  Using evidence-based practices SOLES is uniquely positioned to contribute to the dialogue surrounding the challenges of:  educating our citizenry for the workplace of the 21st century, meeting the leadership and management needs of the nonprofit and public sectors, addressing the social-emotional needs of our community through clinical work, and addressing teaching and learning issues locally, nationally and globally.

1. Expand the Reach and Impact of SOLES’ Centers and Institutes

The Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research’s (INER) Caster Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research, the Center for Education Policy and Law (CEPAL), the Global Center, the Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA), the Leadership Institute (LI), and the Mobile Technology Learning Center  (MTLC)

  • Create collaborative solutions to societal challenges.
  • Drive debate and bring media attention to policy issues in our respective sectors.
  • Serve as a community resource for information and research services connecting the community to SOLES.
  • Elevate collaboration between faculty and students across SOLES’ disciplines and across USD.
  • Train doctoral students in research and evaluation methods to address important community needs.

Global Center: Connections and Impact

  • Expand connections with existing partnerships, Ashoka campuses, and NGOs (e.g., Edify, Save the Children).
  • In collaboration with USD, establish at least one SOLES initiative in a strategic location abroad.
  • Expand research opportunities abroad for students and faculty.

2. Engage and Influence the Greater San Diego Community

  • Strengthen our high profile annual conferences, speaker series and symposia in order to enhance the vibrancy of our environment and to stimulate debate in the community.
  • Provide services to the community through symposia, workshops, projects, events, and continuing education.
  • Provide additional opportunities for influential scholars to visit SOLES for extended stays.

Initiative 2: Teaching Excellence

Innovation is in the DNA of SOLES. For example, we created the first Leadership Studies doctoral program in the nation; we were the first education school in the nation to require that all students have an international experience; and, we have students from all three departments conducting Action Research projects annually. SOLES and USD are nimble and thus we are able to be highly responsive to our community and stakeholders in offering new programs, courses and certificates.

Our ability to assume a more influential leadership role in the sectors we serve, is directly related to the quality of our teaching efforts, which have a direct impact on all of our programs and certificates – undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and continuing professional education.

1. Expand Experiential Learning and Reflective Practice

In particular, we offer experiential learning opportunities to students through our practicum and fieldwork courses, internships, the Leadership Institute, the Leadership Conversation Project, action research projects and our work with pedagogies such as PBL and lesson study. The substantial international research and study opportunities available to our students are also evidence of our leadership in experiential education. Going forward, we will:

  • Deepen commitment to extending and creating additional opportunities; further integrating them in all our academic programs.
  • Promote us, both internally and externally, as a laboratory for innovative pedagogies that highlight the connection between theory and practice and emphasize experiential learning.

2. Increase Teaching Excellence

All of our programs are well regarded, and our intent is to increase their stature. In recognition of the pivotal role that faculty will play in achieving that goal, we will:

  • Increase support and incentives for developing excellent courses and teaching materials.
  • Provide incentives and opportunities for faculty to innovate and incubate new ideas in their respective disciplines and professions.

3. Attract Top Faculty and Students

The quality of our pedagogic efforts depends on our ability to bring together innovative teachers and highly qualified students, both of whom have a wide range of experiences, languages and cultural perspectives. Therefore, achieving teaching excellence at SOLES requires that we:

  • Attract and retain a diverse faculty.
  • Attract and retain a diverse student body.
  • Prepare students to work in diverse communities.
  • Increase our endowment in order to support recurring scholarships and additional assistantships.

Initiative 3: Intellectual Influence

A vibrant intellectual environment is essential for any prominent school within a university. One of our key roles is to expand our influence in the local, regional, national and international community. The core intellectual capital of SOLES is nurtured within our academic departments. Our ability to assume a leadership role in education, the nonprofit and public sectors and mental health community is directly related to the quality and influence of our scholarship. This scholarship, in turn, directly affects the school’s intellectual environment. 

The current intellectual environment at SOLES is strong. Our research output is increasing and becoming nationally and internationally recognized. Some faculty support and incentives for research accomplishments are institutionalized. Building upon this foundation, more can now be done to strengthen the intellectual environment in SOLES.

1.  Increase Faculty and Student Scholarship

  • Increase the number of professorships, chairs, fellowships, and additional research support.
  • Increase support to students to attend professional conferences, and be involved in research projects, and professional associations.
  • Support cross-departmental research seminars in, for example, action research or quantitative analysis that will deepen the impact and generality of our research.

2.  Increase Faculty Grants from Private Foundations

  • Develop strong and purposeful connections to private foundations that fund in SOLES’ program areas.
  • Provide grant-writing support to faculty.
  • Offer focused, timely professional development on grant writing particularly targeting foundation grants.

Initiative 4: Promote Sustainability

In our role as Higher Education professionals, it is our responsibility to advance sustainability and sustainable practices in our business operations and the education of our students.  In collaboration with the University-wide sustainability efforts, we, in SOLES, are committed to developing practices and policies to reduce the carbon footprint of SOLES’ students, faculty, staff, and facilities. We support curriculum and pedagogy on the topic of sustainability.

Goal 1: Increase awareness of sustainability practices by SOLES staff, students, and faculty.

Actions and Metrics:

  • Announce sustainable best practices and regional efforts at each SOLES faculty meeting.
  • Post sustainability tips on SOLES’ Sala screens monthly or more often.
  • Maintain mixed recycling posters at recycling bins. Replace as needed at the time of each committee meeting.

Goal 2: Identify and suggest best practices to incorporate sustainability topics across the curriculum.

Actions and Metrics: 

  • The committee will add a sustainability statement to the SOLES syllabus template.
  • Each year, the number of syllabi that reflect an emphasis on sustainable practices and/or topics will increase.
  • The committee will highlight best practices and post them on our website.
  • Each year, the percent of syllabi including a statement on sustainability will increase.
  • Faculty will decrease the distribution of paper syllabi.
  • The number of syllabi available electronically will increase each year.
  • The Sustainability Committee will conduct an annual survey of practices across SOLES that will include an item related to distribution of paper syllabi. 

Goal 3: Advance sustainable practices in SOLES’ operations.

Actions and Metrics:

  • SOLES will increase paperless practices and electronic forms processing.
  • The Sustainability Committee will conduct an annual survey of practices across SOLES.
  • SOLES will support and engage in university and community Earth Month activities.

The Sustainability Committee will sponsor one or more specific events each year related to increasing sustainable practices.