Strategic Vision Process: Report from the Year 2035

Guest speaker and Woodruff Arts Center CEO Joseph Bankoff takes a look at the Georgia Tech of the future.

As part of a community update on Georgia Tech’s Strategic Vision, Woodruff Arts Center President and CEO Joseph Bankoff presented a report January 21 on Tech’s last 25 years—as seen from the year 2035. 

In this “look back,” Bankoff—also a participant in the Institute's strategic planning process—addressed students, faculty, administration and staff on how Tech weathered such challenges as diminished state funding, increased global competition for students, enhanced the start-up mentality of Tech’s students and broadened the Institute’s role in continued innovation. 

In his recounting of history, Tech had restructured its curriculum to meet the challenges and maintain its leadership in innovation, partly by reframing its calendar, courses and interaction between alumni, students and faculty. Intensive three-week and semesters long 27-week courses were added to the curriculum, while Tech students and faculty of diverse disciplines joined alumni, community members and alumni in long-term project analysis and innovation teams.

 Tech expanded its borders further into Midtown, leading to a Tech Square–type revitalization and forming a new “Peachtree Corridor” for technology, drawing technical firms and venture capital to the area. The Institute’s collaborative nature expanded beyond Emory and the City of Atlanta, with new partnerships locally ranging from Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Atlanta Public Schools, as well as globally, in new partnerships with the Max Planck Institute and Beijing universities.

Bankoff’s main vision was of the Georgia Institute for Innovation, a not-for-profit organization operating under the Institute’s umbrella. With the ability to raise funds and enable entrepreneurial risks, the Institute for Innovation assisted students’ experience in “real world” projects through engineering and technology. “This expanded linking of process, technology, design, research and policy to the social and environmental needs of the immediately accessible community allowed students to learn by doing in ways that developed their leadership and innovation skills working in diverse groups,” he said.

In the “look back,” Tech alumni were able to exercise a “lifetime option” to participate in undergraduate classes or projects to continue their education. The Institute’s “Dining In” tradition brought administrative members and faculty together with students on a regular basis, promoting ongoing dialogue and discussion. As part of the Institute’s strategic vision, the effectiveness of teaching and investments was measured in five- and 10-year increments. “Benchmarking for patents, distinguished faculty, successful commercialization of innovation and leadership positioning of alumni was undertaken,” Bankoff said.

Some of the other milestones chronicled in the 2035 report included the establishment of an Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law; a comprehensive reinvention of elementary and secondary math concepts, practiced in schools; a Center for Transdisciplinary Innovation in Tech Square; and a confidential and robust Alumni Employment Network.

In closing his presentation, he quoted the motto above the door of the Georgia Institute for Innovation: “The best way to predict the future—is to create it.” Bankoff, a member of the Enhancing Tech’s Role in Georgia strategic planning committee, led the strategic planning efforts for the arts center.

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson addressed the students, faculty and staff in attendance immediately after Bankoff’s presentation, providing an update on the present-day progress of the Institute’s Strategic Vision process.

Pointing out that all of the innovations mentioned in Bankoff’s presentation have all been presented as ideas through the Strategic Vision process, he reiterated that nothing has been finalized and no decisions have been made. “[Bankoff’s report] gives us some sense of how important what we’re doing today can be to the future of Georgia Tech,” Peterson said.

Peterson reiterated that members of the Strategic Vision Steering Committee have posted their preliminary reports after meeting and gathering feedback from the campus community. These reports are available on the Strategic Vision for Georgia Tech Web site. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to log in, read and submit feedback on eight overall themes.

“There are two parts to the planning process—one is to identify the vision, and second is to figure out what we need to do to accomplish that vision,” Peterson said. “In these reports there are several things that fall into that second category. The hard part will be to take these strategic themes, mesh them with the big ideas and create Tech’s strategic plan.”

Some of the innovations and directions Peterson singled out included Tech’s fostering healthcare excellence through technology and innovation; become a national leader in intellectual property policy; a lifetime “guarantee” provided on every degree from Georgia Tech; and set the bar for creating a virtual learning environment.

“In terms of where we go next, we’ll … take these reports and try to discover what the common thread is,” Peterson said. “Then we will put together a very rough draft for a strategic plan that outlines a vision that might allow us to have a look back similar that what Joe [Bankoff] has described earlier.”