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About UW Strategic Planning

Positioning the UW to thrive in the 21st Century

University of Washington students walking on the stairs to Red SquareIn 2009, the University of Washington initiated an in-depth strategic planning initiative to address the challenges of the then-anticipated financial crisis and the opportunities presented by emerging trends in higher education.  University leaders consulted over 3,500 members of the community—faculty, students, and staff from the three campuses as well as members of the larger community—for input on emerging trends, threats, opportunities and future directions. In a time of major change and uncertainty, the process took nothing for granted and was open to results that might prompt rethinking our mission and long-held practices. What resulted, however, was a deep reaffirmation and commitment to staying true to the UW’s core vision and values, as well as its role and mission, as defined by the UW Board of Regents. In addition, the process uncovered a strong mandate to build on this core to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century: to become even more competitive, collaborative, technology-reliant, nimble and diversified; and to provide solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

This vision is laid out in the following Visioning Documents:

This strategic planning effort was called the Two Years to Two Decades (2y2d) Initiative because in each biennium the University should be thinking long-term. The 2y2d Initiative was designed to ensure that the University’s near-term actions were in line with a shared sense of how the University community envisioned its future. The ultimate goal is to actively manage change rather than letting change manage the University.


Our two-year challenge:

How do we ensure that we stay true to our mission, vision, and values while coping with the rapidly changing landscape of higher education—funding, competition, emerging technologies, shifting demographics, and changing student expectations?

Our two-decade challenge:

How do we ensure that the decisions we make now reflect our combined sense of where we are going and set us up well to thrive in the 21st century?

The UW’s Sustainable Academic Business Plan

To implement the 2y2d strategic directions, a steering committee made up of University leaders crafted the Sustainable Academic Business Plan in 2011. As the name implies, the Sustainable Academic Business Plan addresses both academic excellence and grounding in financial realities. It consists of long- and short-term goals that guide work groups across the university responsible for implementing the 2y2d vision in the near-term, identifying gaps and launching initiatives to fill them. The Plan is regularly updated, most recently in September 2018.



View a summary of all current initiatives or visit the individual initiative websites linked below:

Past, now integrated

Past initiatives include:

  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Campus of the 21st Century
  • Enhance Student Services
  • Fostering Collaboration
  • Program Evaluation Initiative

Delivering results

Rome2y2d, the Sustainable Academic Business Plan, and related efforts have leveraged the University’s collaborative, central-decentralized culture to empower groups across campus to innovate to achieve the goals in ways unique to each department, school, college, or unit by providing tools and resources, and by celebrating success to raise awareness and inspire others to similar actions. As a result, we have enjoyed wide implementation, buy-in, and results.

Downloadable Briefing Documents

Download the Strategic Planning brief, submitted to the state’s Office of Financial Management as part of the UW’s annual budgeting process, outlining UW’s Strategic Planning in a single, condensed document.

Commended by accreditors

During the most recent round of University accreditation, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities commended our “…robust response to the fiscal downturn, marked by planning that engaged much of the University community. By remaining focused on the University’s mission and values, the institution was able to formulate and implement strategic decisions, and as a result UW has sustained its strong academic reputation.”