SUBCATEGORY TWO: STRATEGIC PLANNING
Engaging internal and external stakeholders in strategic planning (5.C.3)
A steering committee composed of the chairs of the individual work groups, the director of outcomes assessment, and the executive director of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Research helped guide the strategic planning effort. Work began in September 2013 when the data collection work group sent a survey to all faculty and staff soliciting responses to a set of open-ended questions on the College’s ability to attract, retain, and graduate students. The questions also addressed academic performance issues, effects on the College's budget, and the College’s ability to meet community needs. Surveys were also sent to students about the College's strengths and weaknesses. Members of the task force followed up with a facilitated meeting with the Student Senate to deepen its understanding of students’ perceptions, needs, and experiences (5.B.3). Survey results were shared with more than 350 faculty and staff at a “Connecting the Dots for Our Future” event in December 2013. Faculty and staff provided input on the internal issues they thought were essential to the College’s future (5.B.3).
The community outreach work group organized two “community conversations” in November 2013; 112 business and industry leaders, education and government officials, college alumni, and retirees discussed what they perceived to be opportunities for the College’s future. Participants included K-12 educational leadership and several elected officials, including mayors and county commissioners, CEOs of local institutions, and alumni. These community members, with their diverse perspectives, helped identify opportunities and challenges to consider for the new strategic plan. The community feedback helped ensure the College’s strategic plan met the needs of the community (5.C.3).
The strategic plan was published in a booklet that was given to all participants, including contributors from the community. Information about the College’s strategic plan and its planning processes can also be found online (5.B.3, 5.C.3). Adoption of the new strategic plan was celebrated at a kick-off event held onstage in the College’s performing arts spaces in September 2014. The plan also appears in the College’s annual report to the community, which is sent to civic leaders, legislators, and supporters (5.B.3, 5 C.3).
Aligning operations with the institution's mission, vision, values (5.C.2)
The President's Cabinet monitors strategic and annual plan progress on an ongoing basis. Tracking tasks is part of the regular agenda for Cabinet meetings. At the end of each academic year, the President’s Cabinet, together with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, evaluates the strategic planning process and makes adjustments to the process as necessary (5.B.3, 5.C.1, 5.C.2).
The annual plan is presented to the Board of Trustees each year in the fall. It contains outcomes and milestones developed by Cabinet liaisons and project leaders that are consistent with the College's core values, strategic goals, and tasks. Outcomes are directly related to the associated tasks and AQIP projects in the strategic plan. Each year, the projects are evaluated relative to the achievement of planned outcomes. The Board of Trustees evaluates the president on the basis of overall annual plan performance. Institutional achievements are documented in the annual outcomes report (5.B.3).
Aligning efforts across departments, divisions, and colleges for optimum effectiveness and efficiency (5.B.3)
During the Program Review processes for Academic and Administrative units, faculty and staff are required to indicate ways in which the program and department offerings align with the College's mission as well as report on initiatives that tie to the College's strategic plans and KPIs. This allows for reflection on ties to the mission and values of the institution, and provides context for curriculum and for planning goals for the next several years.
Capitalizing on opportunities and institutional strengths and countering the impact of institutional weaknesses and potential threats (5.C.4, 5.C.5)
The strategic plan's data analysis work group, with assistance from members of the strategic planning task force, researched current trends in the political, economic, social, technological, educational, and demographic environment. Their focus was on trends that would affect the College in the next 3–5 years. From this comprehensive process, the task force identified trend statements. After considering the collected input, the data analysis work group compiled an analysis of the College’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Cabinet members used the analysis and information from strategy alignment meetings to formulate broad strategic goals and more specific tasks (5.C.4, 5.C.5).
The strategic planning task force presented the SWOT analysis to the President’s Cabinet during a special meeting in April 2014. Cabinet members identified strategic issues based on the analysis and summarized key themes. Refining the key themes ultimately led to determining the College’s strategic goals. While the goals are institutional in nature, specific tasks identified actions that College-wide teams with subject matter expertise were assigned both a designated cabinet liaison and a project leader. The Board of Trustees reviewed the goals and tasks at a special meeting in May 2014 (5.B.3).
Creating and implementing strategies and action plans that maximize current resources and meet future needs (5.C.1, 5.C.4)
Within the budgeting processes, funding requests for strategic planning and AQIP projects were considered by the Cabinet to create funding priorities. All funding requests were prioritized based on available funding, the specificity and timing of anticipated activities described in the request, and whether the activity might be accomplished from already budgeted funds. Moving forward, many of the budgeted items with ongoing costs were operationalized within the budget of the department. However, resource implications for both strategic planning and AQIP items continue to be part of the ongoing budgeting processes of the College.