Launchpad Director Simone McKelvey and Assistant Director Chris Kohl in the Launchpad reception area.
Launchpad Director Simone McKelvey and Assistant Director Chris Kohl.

Strategic planning is only as successful as our strategic doing. Here is an update on what has been done, and what continues to be done, to help us accomplish our strategic goals set out in Tech Tomorrow.

From college SWOT analyses and an academic programs gap analysis – which are still being used by the colleges and Office of the Provost  in reviewing and creating new academic programs – to the creation and launch of Tech’s Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge, there are many efforts that have been completed, are being implemented, or are in a planning stage. Some highlights are listed below, but a complete list of activities can be found in the annual reports at

  • Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge: Tech publicly launched the Rural Reimagined grand challenge in Spring 2019. Rural Reimagined has an existing steering committee and is led by Michael Aikens, director of the Tennessee Tech Center for Rural Innovation. Since March 2019, Rural Reimagined has impacted 44 Tennessee counties, interacted with over 3,000 community members, faculty, staff and students, has created over 100 community partnerships, has accumulated 50,000 student service-learning/volunteer hours, and has activated over $4.2 million in rural-related grant funds. In 2021, Rural Reimagined received a national award in recognition of its work. And, for the first time, Gov. Lee’s budget proposal for 2022-2023 includes $1 million dollars in funding for Rural Reimagined.
  • Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence (CAFÉ): The Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence provides services, resources and training to help Tech’s teachers improve their craft and better serve students. The center’s faculty development programs are structured in the areas of teaching and learning, research and scholarly activities, career and leadership development, engagement, and diversity.
  • Launchpad (University Advising Center): In order to provide consistency to first-year and general curriculum student advising, along with providing advising tailored to specific needs of students new to campus, such as financial aid, counseling and mental health resources, and study habits, Tech opened the Launchpad Student Success Center. Our advising for these students needs to be focused on making choices that lead to general success in studying and decision making so they are well grounded and ready to take up the challenges of upperclassmen as their proceed in their final majors.
  • Online Education: The Office of the Provost formed an Online Advisory Committee, led by Senior Associate Provost Mark Stephens. This committee’s work has been greatly informed by the Innovation in All We Do group’s work on expanding Tech’s online academic offerings. So far, we have seen the creation of a new position within the Office of the Provost (Associate Provost of Online and Faculty Development), an increase of the number of full-time instructional designers in CITL, and the development of a strategic plan specifically for Tech’s online learning that will be unveiled soon.
  • ePortfolio: Considered a high-impact practice that leads to student success, digital repositories of student work are designed to be owned and developed by student learners with guidance from faculty. This initiative is already serving the campus.
  • 2025 Metric Goals: Nine separate goals were announced in 2019 to show the impact of Tech Tomorrow. These goals include enrollment, student diversity, retention and graduation rates and sponsored research. A complete list of the goals, along with tracking data, is at

Working to transform Tech, with its more than 100-year history, is somewhat like renovating a historic house. Before you can do the easily seen changes, you often have to take care of things that are not usually seen, such as a foundation or plumbing. I appreciate the work that has been done on items that shore up the foundation and that are needed to make us a better university, such as implementing eTranscripts and electronic course substitution forms.

There are more efforts to highlight from Tech Tomorrow’s implementation that showcase how offices across campus are taking the goals from the plan and applying them to their own areas. I look forward to telling you more in the next blog.

Wings Up,



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