As educators, we support students throughout their university experience by providing the best and most innovative programs, facilities and services.
To be a leader in the creation of a campus culture that engages all students and inspires them to change the world.
During the past few months, our Division has worked to draft a new version of our mission and vision statements. One of the important components to remember about these two statements is that the mission statement explains the work that we do now across all departments and the vision is our attempt to describe what we reach for. In both statements there are words that describe both who we are and what we do – educators, leader. There are words that communicate the context within which we work – university, campus culture. There are phrases that express our aspirations for excellence – best, most innovative, engages all students, inspires them to change the world – and the ways through which we do all this – programs, facilities and services.
Now we have started working on the next step – re-imagining our Strategic Plan. Our current plan was drafted before some important changes were made in our organizational design. While we are not starting from scratch, there are significant modifications that need to be made to match our current realities. As we think about this process, we need to have some common understanding of what a strategic plan is and is not.
I found a website that I like from Professor Judith Faust, a faculty member from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Here is Professor Faust’s definition which I find useful: “Strategic planning is a continuous process of organizational evaluation and decision making through which the organization asks and answers the question ‘in pursuit of our mission, and in light of our shared values and our knowledge of ourselves and our environment, what ought we to be doing?’”
We’ve started answering these questions with our mission, vision and values discussions. At the Student Affairs Leadership Team (SALT) meeting, we studied the current strategic plan and began to reach agreement on the elements that are still current and the changes that need to be considered.
For example, there was a clear consensus that the first two strategic initiatives* need to be combined and rewritten. Two separate groups who were examining initiative six** reached the same conclusion – we don’t need a separate initiative for assessment; assessment needs to be threaded throughout the entire plan. Members in each of the SALT discussion groups volunteered to work with the writing group to start the process of translating those conversations into a plan for our future.
Once we complete this initiative, we then begin the most important part of strategic planning – putting it into action. My promise to you is that this won’t be an exercise just to say we have done it. This plan won’t be posted on our webpage to look pretty. This plan will be used to help us make important decisions in the months and years to come. This plan will support our work as a Division and in each individual department and program. Like we did with the mission, vision and values process, members of SALT will be bringing ideas and questions to you in your department meetings. We want to hear as many ideas, thoughts and questions as possible from all members of our staff to shape our final plan.
I look forward to hearing your feedback as we begin this new journey.
*“Enhance first-year transition to promote student success” and “Improve student progress from enrollment to graduation”
**“Prioritize, enhance, or discontinue programs and services based on assessment and evaluation evidence”