I hope that the summer (which seems to include time after Spring graduation) has started well. As shared on a number of occasions, we hope to engage the campus community in some thinking of next steps in strategic and tactical goals for advancing the mission and vision of the university.
In April we wrote: “One result of the national search process is a decision to renew the campus strategic planning process in the very near future. The search uncovered a number of areas of general campus identification — a commitment to community engagement as a key element of our learning, for example. We also found agreement about the need to find ways to foster student success in learning — to improve retention rates, to act strategically to increase the number of Clayton State graduates, all while maintaining rigor in the ways in which that learning is demonstrated. And there appeared to be consensus that we need to take actions in these areas in the very near future.
“There emerged a number of areas in which continued conversations may be required for the campus to develop clear benchmarks and standards through which we can embrace excellence on our own terms. We are certain about the values of learning for our students, faculty, staff and community. We require continued discussions of actions we take to best achieve those values. The contemporary conditions of higher education require systematic approaches to frame such goals and benchmarks, and systematic ways to determine our success in reaching those goals and benchmarks.”
And during the final faculty meeting, we shared the following: “There are clearly opportunities to revisit our perspectives on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, to review the mission and vision of the institution, and certainly to have serious conversations about not only goals, but far more specific and far more quantifiable goals. We have some opportunities to make some ground breaking steps in the next few years and be seen as leaders in categories such as community engagement, life, as well as workplace preparation for the 21st Century. We have already begun to create models for ways in which universities and communities can be partners for learning. We can be a model for institutions that succeed in the important and vital work of managing issues of similarities and differences — diversity — and have concrete programs that give power and knowledge to our students to lead on such matters while they are here, and after they succeed in our classes. We live in a society in which issues of race and class and gender and even the people we love are among things that are real — and for which we must find a safe context within which to learn and to dream. We can help our campus and students through leadership in addressing those and other learning issues.”
There are three areas in which I hope you will consider participating. Sometime later this summer or early in the fall, we will asking all of campus to help us get perspectives of what we believe are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the university, and higher education in general. When calls for participation arrive, please take a few minutes to help us with the project.
Second, provide constructive reactions to early thinking on progress in strategic planning, that will help frame next steps for the institution.
Third, consider participating in one or more implementation group, that will likely be charged with being the “keepers of progress” for outcomes targeted by the campus.
In the next few days, we will be circulating a list of colleagues who will be serving on the strategic planning steering committee. While a bit larger than some other committees, it seemed important to tap a broad array of perspectives so important to the range of dreams we strive to make real.
Thanks once, again for all you do each day to advance campus learning — for our students, for ourselves, and for our community.