Penn State Global - Strategic Plan 2020-2025


Penn State Global supports Penn State’s land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service to the global community.

We support Penn State’s global presence by preparing and assisting those engaged internationally and by taking the lead in developing and maintaining institutional relationships with core strategic partners around the world.

We provide advising, immigration services, and programming in partnership with academic units, campuses, and other University offices to attract the brightest international students, scholars, and faculty to our campuses, leveraging their experiences, backgrounds, and cultures to infuse our classrooms and communities with a broader worldview.

We promote intercultural and cross-cultural competence by encouraging best practices, developing global learning outcomes, and collaborating with academic and non-academic units to provide high-impact education abroad experiences for our students, as well as opportunities for faculty and staff.

We work with research and academic communities to facilitate collaborative research and scholarship that leverage and enhance the physical and intellectual capacity of Penn State and its partner institutions.

We advocate for processes, programming, and organizational structures that promote global engagement as a foundation of Penn State’s strategic activities, and we provide the services and the expertise necessary for Penn State to safely operate and carry out its mission on the global stage.


Penn State Global will lead the transformation of Penn State into a truly global University where global perspectives and global engagement are integrated across the entire University community—faculty, staff, and students—and in all components of the University’s mission of teaching, research, and service.


Penn State Global champions the values of the University, which are:

INTEGRITY - We act with integrity in accordance with the highest academic, professional, and ethical standards.
RESPECT - We respect and honor the dignity of each person, embrace civil discourse, and foster a diverse, inclusive, and safe community.
RESPONSIBILITY - We act responsibly and hold ourselves accountable for our decisions, actions, and their consequences.
DISCOVERY - Through advanced research and scholarship, we seek and create new knowledge and understanding, and foster creativity and innovation, for society's benefit.
EXCELLENCE - We strive for excellence in all of our endeavors as individuals, an institution, and a leader in higher education and research.
COMMUNITY - We work together for the betterment of our University, the communities we serve, and the world.

Planning Process

Overall process

In February 2020, Penn State Global initiated a six-month strategic planning process of five steps. After a partial interruption due to COVID-19, we resumed the process in May 2020 on a revised timeline:

  1. Set vision and mission statements (May 2020)
  2. Develop themes and goals (June 2020)
  3. Design objectives and key performance indicators (June 2020)
  4. Design action items and metrics (June – July 2020)
  5. Collect feedback from stakeholders and draft strategic plan (July – August 2020)

This process was prepared based on recommendations from the OPAIR (Office of Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research), past feedback from external and internal stakeholders, and research on best practices in international education. The Global Advisory Council (an external advisory group) offered suggestions during a campus visit held in June 2019 and staff members provided input during a strategic retreat held in October 2019. We conducted analyses of best practices and trends within international education in October 2019 (pre-COVID) and in May 2020 (post-COVID).

To guide the process, we appointed a committee through the office of the vice provost for Global strategic planning committee, including representatives from each Penn State Global unit. Dr. Roger Brindley (Vice Provost for Global) and Dr. Rob Crane (Associate Vice Provost for Global) chaired the strategic planning committee. Overall, the committee had 16 members.

The strategic planning committee worked collectively to formulate the vision and mission statements (step 1) and to draft strategic goals (step 2). The committee was divided into working groups (or subcommittees), each responsible for developing objectives and action items for a goal (steps 3 and 4). Another group of six staff from Penn State Global formed a reading committee. Their response resulted in a refined document and this finalized the strategic plan for wider review by students, the whole Penn State Global staff, and key stakeholders across the institution (step 5). The strategic planning committee and/or subcommittees met weekly from May to July. As the work continued a planning coordinator consolidated narrative and other suggestions before each weekly discussion.

Vision and mission statements (May 2020)

Prior to COVID-19, the strategic planning committee held multiple brainstorming sessions. Using Microsoft Teams, the committee then proposed and voted upon mission and vision statements. Considering the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the strategic planning committee felt compelled to revisit the mission and vision statements in May 2020 to ensure they remained fully applicable.

Themes and goals (June 2020)

During the brainstorming sessions held before COVID-19, the strategic planning committee identified four strategic themes. These themes reflect the broader six foundations and five thematic priorities of the University and capture the institutional values. The overarching theme for the Penn State Global 2020-2025 Strategic Plan is pervasive global engagement. Global engagement cannot be an after-thought bolted on to the structures and processes of the University as a supplemental initiative. It must be authentic to the core work of the University, and it requires continuous improvement across the academic and research enterprises of the Commonwealth. It necessitates that units embed global values, concepts, and content into the daily life of the institution. Inevitably, this will “take a village” and requires key stakeholders across Penn State engage as collaborators and equal partners with Penn State Global to complete this work. This notion is central to the success of this strategic plan and is reflected in the large number of colleagues identified in the following document.

In June 2020, the strategic planning committee revisited those themes. Each committee member listed at least five priorities to be accomplished by Penn State Global by 2025. Subsequently, the list of 91 priorities was voted for, prioritized, and mapped into three goals:

Goal 1: Establish globally aligned institutional structures and systems that extend and support Penn State’s societal impact in communities at home and abroad

The purpose of this goal is to promote binding policies and procedures that embed global engagement and accentuate institutional strategies that integrate global perspectives

Goal 2: Build a globally engaged community that thrives from diversity and inclusive perspectives

This goal is designed to create opportunities for students to develop global competencies and accelerate the intercultural competence of faculty and staff, all in an inclusive and welcoming environment

Goal 3: Promote and support focused, high-impact research and scholarship that link campus, local, and global partners

This goal seeks multi-layered and interdisciplinary world-class university partnerships with targeted research initiatives that include higher education and business/industry/government entities in intentional locations

3 Goals of Strategic Plan graphic

Objectives, action items, and indicators (June – July 2020)

Subcommittees reported weekly on their progress to the entire committee. They met at least twice a week and sent their report for consolidation and review one day before the committee weekly meetings.

By July 10, each subcommittee had completed a strategic plan template for their respective goal. Each template was consolidated for review by the reading committee.

Stakeholders feedback and draft strategic plan (July – August 2020)

On July 13, the reading committee started reviewing a first version of the strategic plan. The reading committee analyzed overlaps, common ideas, exhaustivity, and alignment to the foundation and themes of the University. The initial feedback resulted in further editing and the creation of a second draft. On August 5, the updated draft was sent to the whole Penn State Global staff and key stakeholders.

During the week of August 10, we gathered student feedback through two focus group meetings. During the week of August 17, we started collecting comments from multiple administrative and academic leaders across the Commonwealth (via emails and virtual meetings).

All feedback resulted in a revised draft that was presented to the strategic planning committee which reconvened on September 1. The final draft was submitted to the OPAIR on September 15.

Participants and working groups (see appendices A, B, and C for a detailed list of participants)

Penn State Global developed an inclusive strategic planning process that involved multiple members both within and outside the University:

  • Strategic planning committee, a core group of sixteen Penn State Global staff in charge of piloting the strategic process (including the financial officer and director for global operations)
  • A subgroup emerging from the strategic planning committee and responsible for identifying the objectives and action items associated with a specific goal
  • Key stakeholders, individuals who have a significant interest in Penn State Global's activities and were solicited for feedback
  • Reading committee, a subgroup of four members from the strategic planning committee and two staff members responsible for reviewing and finalizing the strategic plan
  • Global Advisory Council, leaders in academia, industry, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations. This Council provides guidance in shaping the University’s global strategies

Supporting materials and documents

Throughout the strategic planning process, the following documents were produced:

  • List of strategic planning committee members (Appendix A)
  • List of subcommittee members (Appendix B)
  • List of institutional stakeholders solicited for feedback (Appendix C)
  • Student focus group results (Appendix D)
  • Strategic planning timeline (initial and post COVID-19 revised versions) (Appendix E)
  • Themes and goals guidelines (Appendix F)
  • Themes and goals survey results (Appendix G)
  • Global citizenship task force report – executive report (Appendix H)
  • User guide for global engagement (Appendix I)
  • Penn State Global Organization Chart – August 2020 (Appendix J)


The following tools were used to support the communication within the strategic planning committee and subcommittees as well as the collection of data and stakeholder feedback:

  • Microsoft Teams, used in replacement of in-person meetings for the purpose of maintaining regular communication within the strategic planning committee and within subcommittees (either through chat or call) and to store supporting documents
  • , used for the weekly meetings of the strategic planning committee and for focus group discussions
  • Outlook emails, used to collect feedback from the committee members and from stakeholders

Acronyms used in the strategic plan


Full name


Global Engagement and Leadership Experience (GP-GELE)


Leadership Advisory Committee (to be created)


Office of Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research


Office of the Vice President for Information Technology


Office of the Vice President for Research


Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Office


Teaching and Learning with Technology

GOAL 1: Pervasive Institutional Structures and Systems

Establish globally aligned institutional structures and systems that extend and support Penn State’s societal impact in communities at home and abroad

The purpose of this goal is to promote binding policies and procedures that embed global engagement and accentuate institutional strategies that integrate global perspectives. Penn State has reaffirmed global engagement as a core foundation necessary for the success of its mission, and each of these foundations will require our collective “commitment to impact,” where the entire community considers its place and role in a globally engaged ecosystem. Through this goal, Penn State Global invites academic and administrative units across the University to consider how in a world class and globally renowned institution the key tenets of global engagement should be authentic, infused, and pervasive within the academic discipline and across all our shared work.

Goal 1 is built around four objectives intended to further support the global alignment of Penn State by:

  1. Establishing a committee of senior academic and administrative leaders to advise Penn State Global on how to develop interdisciplinary structures that are conducive to global learning and research, and to empower the actions of each college and institute working collaboratively with Penn State Global to promote the global focus within their own unit goals
  2. Designing and housing a user-friendly and accessible platform for global data at Penn State so that the academic and research communities can document the effective actions and footprint of a global land-grant university and use this data to accelerate global outcomes
  3. Enhancing all aspects of global marketing and communication. In an increasingly competitive higher education landscape around the world, Penn State needs to strengthen internal and external outreach, promote the world-class scholarship of faculty and students, and develop intentional campaigns to extend the global profile and reputation of the University
  4. Implementing a dedicated strategy alongside Development and Alumni Relations to reconnect with international alumni, and engage current international students, so that the Penn State alumni community around the world is nurtured and continuously engaged through a new commitment to a global community and an infrastructure of engagement

Strategic Plan Goal 1 diagram

Figure 1.1 illustrates the relationship between a robust infrastructure for global engagement and tailored communication and outreach strategies, fundamental conditions to achieve a pervasive global culture.

GOAL 2: Globally Engaged Community

Build a globally engaged community that thrives from diversity and inclusive perspectives

This goal is designed to create opportunities for students to develop global competencies and accelerate the intercultural competence of faculty and staff, all in an inclusive and welcoming environment. We live in an increasingly connected world that accentuates the fundamental responsibility of our institution to prepare students to become competitive and globally engaged professionals who can develop solutions to major societal challenges that integrate diverse, local, regional, and cultural perspectives. To achieve this mission, it is essential that faculty and staff champion global engagement in their teaching and service to students, and that the university community be representative of our interconnected society while offering opportunities for students to apply and further develop their intercultural skills and knowledge.

Goal 2 articulates the mutually reinforcing relationship between globally engaged students, faculty, and staff, and a diverse and inclusive environment:

  1. We will provide global learning experiences accessible to all students by infusing international perspectives into curricular and co-curricular programs, developing virtual learning activities that encourage collaboration with peers from multiple countries in projects that address global issues, and expanding our study abroad portfolio to diverse and safe locations
  2. We will encourage faculty and staff to consider and integrate global perspectives in their teaching, research, and service to students by providing and incentivizing learning and self-development opportunities
  3. We will advocate for the well-being of our international population and promote a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive environment that provides a platform to continuously strengthen and apply global knowledge, and that supports a prospering dialogue across local and international communities

Strategic Plan Goal 2 diagram

Figure 2.1 illustrates the self-reinforcing cycle in which globally engaged students, faculty, and staff contribute to and benefit from diverse and inclusive perspectives.

GOAL 3: Partnerships: Local to Global

Promote and support focused, high-impact research and scholarship that link campus, local, and global partners

This goal seeks multi-layered and interdisciplinary world-class university partnerships with targeted research initiatives that include higher education and business/industry/government entities in intentional locations.

Strategically chosen international partnerships enhance the University’s mission by expanding access to wider networks of institutional and intellectual resources and by leveraging our resources and expertise with other leading institutions around the world. Given the ever-increasing rate at which new knowledge is generated and applied globally, international collaboration is essential for an R1: Doctoral University. International partnerships provide opportunities for engaging students and enhancing our educational programs. In addition, they raise our international profile and, in doing so, they help us attract the best students, scholars, and faculty from around the world to our campuses. A core part of our mission as a 21st century land-grant institution is to enhance the well-being of our global community, and the University strategic plan focuses on several significant global challenges. These challenges impact all of us. They are interconnected and multifaceted, and although the challenges are global, solutions are almost always local, requiring a diversity of institutional and community partners. Goal 3 describes three partnership models with different yet related purposes:

  1. We propose to elevate several of our bilateral partnerships to a long-term consortial relationship that builds close ties between members who have common research priorities, joint academic programming, and high levels of faculty and student mobility
  2. With the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research (OVPR), we will develop additional highly focused research partnerships that are driven largely by the priorities of the interdisciplinary research institutes
  3. A third model is a regionally focused model for the Global South that creates novel partnerships with public and private sectors (including developmental and humanitarian organizations) focused on direct community impact—a global extension of Penn State’s land-grant mission

Strategic Plan Goal 3 Diagram

Figure 3.1 illustrates the relationship between the different partnership models. While each has its own unique objectives, they are all related—projects and people will overlap, and knowledge and scholarship generated in one partnership will be applied in the others.