What is the purpose of undertaking strategic planning?
Strategic planning allows the university to take stock of how far it has come over the previous planning period and to establish goals and identify actions for the future that build on successes from the previous planning period, capitalize on the university’s core strengths, and effectively use limited resources to meet the university’s mission. A strategic plan does not spell out everything the University does or will do in the future. Instead, emphasis in the plan is placed on new directions and existing areas where further development is needed over the upcoming planning horizon (i.e., five years). Many of the existing areas that are not explicitly mentioned in the 2011-2015 goals and strategies are captured in the plan’s introduction and in the context statements for each strategic goal. Goals beyond the five-year time-horizon are articulated by the university leadership through other forms of strategic communication, providing the context for the five-year plan.
How does the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan differ from the previous plan and why?
The 2011-2015 Strategic Plan retains the basic structure reflected in the four goals from the previous plan. Emphasis on the development of interdisciplinary and integrative education, research and engagement continues in the new plan, building upon the strong foundation provided by our strengths and previous to accomplishments, and the university’s commitment to a culture that values such things as diversity, civility and collaboration is also retained in the new plan.
The new plan retains specific aspects of the previous plan in which assessment indicated a need for further progress. It does not retain aspects in which assessment indicated the particular objective had been accomplished, in which the objective is no longer relevant due to changed circumstances, or in cases where the objective was on track to be achieved. Thus, to a very large degree, this plan acknowledges past successes and builds on them.
The 2011-2015 Teaching and Learning Goal builds upon the university’s success at engaging students in transformational experiences, but reflects the critical need for graduates to live, work and succeed in an environment of rapid change – an environment that values such things as adaptability, integrative thinking and collaboration.
In addition to retaining a commitment to interdisciplinary research, the Scholarly and Creative Activity Goal in the 2011-2015 Plan emphasizes the need to increase opportunities for collaboration across disciplines and across the institution; and to facilitate excellence in all areas consistent with the Universities’ strategic missions and in specific strategic areas of identified strength and need.
Although the Outreach and Engagement Goal retains the emphasis on integration of teaching, research and outreach, of the previous plan, it builds on the efforts of the past five years by identifying some of the strategies necessary to fully support those efforts and to build upon our unique status as a Carnegie-classified Community Engagement institution. In addition, the specific strategies are grouped according to internal and external actions that need to be performed to achieve the goal and objectives.
The Community and Culture goal in the 2011-2015 Plan makes it clear that the university is committed to fostering a purposeful, ethical, vibrant and open community -- a desirable outcome of equal weight and importance as the other three strategic goals.
Since efforts at teaching and learning, scholarly and creative activity, outreach and engagement, and community and culture are integrated, why does the strategic plan separate these areas into four goals?
In short: tradition and assessment. The first three goals reflect the way in which individual and academic-unit responsibilities are often classified at universities and reflect how assessment data is collected and evaluated from the administrative- and college-level to the individual-performance level. However, the new plan includes a Resource Strategies Plan that provides a unique way for the institution and specific units to develop objectives and strategies that focus on the integrative actions and resources needed to help the institution accomplish the Strategic Goals and Objectives.
How are the terms “goal,” “objective,” and “strategy” used in the strategic plan?
Goal: A goal defines a general outcome the university plans to achieve by the end of the five-year period (e.g., meet society’s needs through engagement).
Objective: Objectives are specific outcomes that contribute uniquely to the accomplishment of the goal (e.g., an “internal” objective: develop processes and systems that foster engagement; and an “external” objective: expand mutually beneficial partnerships).
Strategy: A strategy is a specific action that helps accomplish an objective (e.g., increase the internal visibility of our outreach and engagement activities).
What is the purpose of the Resource Strategies Plan that accompanies the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan?
The Resource Strategies Plan describes the specific human, facilities, fiscal, infrastructure and communication resource strategies necessary to implement the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. Probably the most innovative change from the current plan to the new plan, the Resource Strategies provide a number of planning and operational benefits:
- Developing resource goals and actions that serve multiple strategic goals highlights the integrative nature of resources and the need to think creatively about (and work collaboratively in) the acquisition and use of resources to achieve strategic goals.
- Highlighting the critical resources that serve as a foundation for the strategic plan should help all university units “see themselves” in the plan, especially those units who don’t see a direct impact on the four strategic goals.
- Developing and implementing a resource strategies plan is an excellent way to “live” Standard Two in the new NWCCU standards.
- Finally, the critical resources plan should serve to focus attention on the need to view resource acquisition and use as a responsibility shared across units and across levels.
The plan shows a strong focus on interdisciplinary efforts and provides insight into how the university should balance interdisciplinary and disciplinary needs
Many of the world’s complex problems and opportunities require integrative, interdisciplinary thinking; and one of the university’s core competencies is the ability and willingness of our faculty, staff and student to work collaboratively. However, successful integrative thinking and interdisciplinary collaboration requires a strong disciplinary foundation. Thus, the university will continue to support strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary activities that emphasize quality, innovation, critical thinking, and collaboration.
What does it mean to be a “land grant” university?
What is the relationship between the Strategic Plan and unit-level plans?
Each unit is required to develop and implement action plans specific to their area and consistent with the University Strategic Plan and Critical Resource Plan. In general, plans at the unit-level will be more tactical and operational in nature than the University Strategic Plan.
How will success under the plan be measured?
A critical factor in the success of any plan is the ability to evaluate progress toward each goal and objective. While the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan describes goals, objective, and strategies, one valuable outcome from the planning process was a list of possible metrics that emerged as the Strategic Plan Steering Committee’s developed the new plan and reviewed feedback from the university community. This list of possible metrics was presented to the university leadership along with the final draft of the plan and will be used to seed discussions about a finalized list of metrics. In addition, as individual units develop their unit plans considerable attention will be given to ways to measure progress towards the accomplishment of unit-level objectives and goals. When these metrics are finalized, they will be made available to the University community.