UPDATING THE UWF STRATEGIC PLAN: 2012-2017
In January, President Judy Bense asked the five of us to serve on a small internal working team to facilitate an update of the University of West Florida’s Strategic Plan. Since then, we have reviewed multiple documents related to the significant work UWF has already done over the past couple years to inform strategic planning at the University.
For instance, our team has reviewed information from the Academic Visioning process in which the Division of Academic Affairs gathered input from faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni, and community partners. Academic Visioning participants subsequently recommended academic priorities for the University. We also reviewed input received during the Athletic Visioning process, from the Campus Master Planning process, and from the Student Life Implementation Team, who provided suggestions regarding ways the University could enhance student life and the traditional undergraduate collegiate experience. An Ad Hoc Committee on Student Retention has been generating recommendations for improving undergraduate student persistence and degree attainment. An Adult Learner Task Force provided ideas regarding ways to increase enrollment, expand entry points, improve alternative delivery methods for academic programs and services, and improve persistence for the non-traditional adult student population. External consultants provided an analysis of UWF Emerald Coast operations, as UWF looks to expand access in Northwest Florida.
We reviewed information from other sources, as well. President Bense had appointed a small team to conduct research regarding best practices to help inform the development of integrated, strategic, aligned planning and resource allocation processes at UWF. “New Normal” retreats generated considerable information and influenced thinking about UWF’s future. University leaders and trustees worked with an external consultant to review select trend data at UWF and at peer and aspirant institutions, to identify benchmarks, and to establish targets for future performance on Key Performance Indicators. Other information came from the existing UWF and State University System Strategic Plans; internal divisional, college, and unit plans; other reports from external consultants and internal work groups; and various regional, state, and national reports on trends and issues in higher education today.
The input from UWF stakeholders regarding so many different aspects of the University provided us with valuable guidance as we began drafting an update to the UWF Strategic Plan for consideration by the University community. We have sorted through the information, identified recurring themes, and tried to organize potential UWF priorities under four “strategic directions.” We also have reviewed many potential performance indicators that could be used to monitor UWF’s progress on the identified priorities over the next five years. Taking into consideration UWF’s traditions and aspirations, as well as its responsibilities as a public, regionally accredited university, we drafted mission, vision, and values statements based on our review of the stakeholder input received thus far.
Now, it is time to enter the second phase of our work as strategic planning facilitators. In the coming weeks, we want to share a series of draft strategic planning documents with various internal and external constituent groups, senior leadership, and the Board of Trustees. Although there are some incomplete sections, the first draft is ready for your review. Please view the draft holistically, given that its various components are highly interrelated and each section is needed for one to fully understand the context of some of the recommendations. We would like to know if you think this draft responds appropriately to the input previously gathered from various stakeholders, is appropriate in scope, is sufficiently comprehensive, and has essential support from the greater UWF community. Before we proceed, we are particularly interested in hearing your thoughts at this point in the process on (1) whether we have captured the right priorities; (2) whether we have missed any critical priorities; (3) whether there is anything in the document with which you simply cannot live; and (4) whether there are things in the document that you cannot live without (i.e., make sure we don't lose them in the editing process). The feedback we collect will help us identify any significant missing elements, help inform the setting of priorities, help University leaders develop more detailed implementation plans, and help us choose appropriate performance indicators.
The strategic planning facilitators will be scheduling a series of meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the draft strategic planning document(s). We will post regular updates on the Strategic Planning Web site. Please visit the site (http://uwf.edu/academic/strategicplanning/), and provide us with feedback, questions, or comments related to UWF’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. You may also provide input via email@example.com. [Please put “Strategic Plan” in the subject line.]
In the third phase of our work, we will assume the role of editors by revising and polishing the document so that the Strategic Plan can be presented to the University community and the Board of Trustees for final consideration and subsequent endorsement prior to submission to the Board of Governors for approval. President Bense has asked us to present a revised draft to the Trustees at their June meeting.
Let us thank you for the ways in which so many of you have contributed to this effort already, as well as for participating in this next phase of UWF’s strategic planning. The University of West Florida is certainly at an exciting point in its evolution as an institution of higher education. We hope that our efforts help facilitate the strategic planning discussions in the coming months.