VIMS Strategic Plan

Photo credit: Wolfgang Vogelbein
As we look to the future:

VIMS will confront societal challenges in coastal and marine systems through innovation, research, and discovery, translating our findings into practical solutions and training the next generation of scientists and citizens.


The VIMS community embraces a set of core values that guide the daily work of carrying out our mission and create an inclusive environment that supports our colleagues and stakeholders.

  1. We value a culture that supports a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution, and believe it is critical to the success of our people and our mission.
  2. We value sustainable, healthy and resilient environments and the stewardship of natural resources that support human well-being.
  3. We value science and advisory service products that are produced and disseminated independent of advocacy and political bias.
  4. We value excellence in academic and educational programs that develop the next generation of marine science leaders and an educated citizenry.
  5. We value creative and innovative approaches and partnerships that advance the work that we do and its impact on the commonwealth, nation and world.
Strategic Priorities
1: VIMS will lead science for solutions to address global change. We will:
  1. Commit to the development of resilient systems through a focus on three grand challenges, ensuring science for stewardship of
    1. Ecosystem Health: connecting physical, chemical, biological, and socioeconomic systems to address environmental and community vulnerabilities
    2. Natural Resources: providing translational science for sustainable management of coastal socio-ecological systems, especially fisheries and aquaculture
    3. Coastal and Ocean Processes: connecting global trends and local drivers to understand and address environmental change
  2. Create an innovative organizational design that catalyzes interdisciplinarity, provides flexibility for responding to emerging challenges, and supports excellence in research and discovery around these core focus areas.
2: VIMS will train, inspire, and empower the next generation of marine science leaders. We will:
  1. Align curricular structure and resources with core specialty and transdisciplinary concepts and competencies to ensure that the next generation is prepared to address the complex challenges and opportunities in a changing global environment.
  2. Grow the stature of the professional degree (MA) program and evolve the undergraduate program in a manner that leverages the strengths of VIMS/SMS, builds on partnerships across the university and region, and ensures diverse and equitable access to VIMS educational programs.
  3. Leverage VIMS’ strengths in research, advisory service, and community engagement, and maximize professional development experiences for students, including through the curriculum.
  4. Cultivate and support a faculty culture that values excellence in education and inclusive teaching and mentorship.
3: VIMS will remain the trusted science advisor to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the area of marine and coastal science, and will respond to the advisory needs of coastal communities worldwide. We will:
  1. Assure a comprehensive, Institution-based approach to development of advisory service products.
  2. Disseminate science in forms that are understandable to the non-scientific community, incorporating a comprehensive body-of-science for specific individual issues, and free of bias and advocacy.
  3. Understand and respect the roles and responsibilities of advisory clients, and be responsive to their specific needs.
  4. Use our convening power, reputation, and breadth of expertise to engage our community of stakeholders to anticipate and prepare for the Commonwealth’s future needs.
4: VIMS will foster an inclusive and equitable community that values a diversity of lived experiences, thoughts, and expertise, recognizing the importance of these connections to helping individuals flourish and supporting the robust collaborations needed to solve the grand challenges of today and tomorrow. We will:
  1. Transform and strengthen current policies, procedures, and structures to promote accountability, oversight, and transparency, and foster a culture that actively identifies and addresses DEI barriers.
  2. Provide leadership for diversity initiatives, normalize the development and attainment of DEI goals, and adopt strategic improvements to strengthen the excellence of the institute.
  3. Create inclusive spaces and practices, celebrate diversity at VIMS, and recruit and support a diverse community centered around respect, empathy, acceptance, and equity.
  4. Further development pathways, expand support, and allocate resources to maximize access to professional learning and growth opportunities for students, staff, and faculty.
5: VIMS will expand our societal engagement and global impact. We will:
  1. Increase VIMS’ visibility, brand, and relevance across a broad geography and diverse audiences.
  2. Develop and deploy strategic education and community engagement initiatives that respond to the needs of diverse audiences, provide increased access to information and experiences in marine science, and inspire and empower individuals to make informed decisions.
  3. Increase philanthropic support of VIMS priorities by strategically identifying, cultivating, and soliciting a broader audience of potential donors with aligned interests.
  4. Foster open collaboration and engagement with diverse partners to develop, disseminate, and leverage innovative science-based solutions to real-world problems, and embrace alternative funding sources to support our mission.
6: VIMS will lead by example in sustainable design, construction, and campus-wide action. We will:
  1. Incorporate best practices in design and construction methods for new facilities—and in renovation of existing facilities—with emphasis on environmental sustainability, to ensure all future projects achieve certification and compliance with the Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Performance Standards.
  2. Partner with William & Mary to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
  3. Reduce—with the goal of eliminating—single-use plastics on campus.
  4. Institutionalize an organizational culture that prioritizes and encourages environmental sustainability in action.