On June 14, 2012, the University of West Florida (UWF) Board of Trustees adopted an updated Strategic Plan for 2012-2017 aligned with UWF's mission, as well as with the Board of Governors' Strategic Plan for the State University System of Florida.
Between 2010 and 2012, UWF engaged in a range of activities to better understand the national, state, and regional conditions that have an impact on the University's work and future. The thoughtful and transparent development of this Plan was informed by data analysis, solicitation of input from various stakeholders, and broad-based visioning and planning activities involving students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and community stakeholders.
For instance, the Division of Academic Affairs undertook an Academic Visioning process that involved soliciting input from faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni, and community partners. Academic Visioning included an environmental scan with SWOT analyses, focus group discussions, surveys, town hall meetings, and visioning and goals conferences in which participants recommended academic priorities for the University. Additional input was received during an Athletic Visioning process and from members of a Student Life Implementation Team, who provided suggestions regarding ways the University could enhance student life and the traditional undergraduate collegiate experience. During this time, UWF also went through an extensive process to update the Campus Master Plan. An Ad Hoc Committee on Student Retention provided additional recommendations regarding strategies for improving undergraduate student persistence and degree attainment. An Adult Learner Task Force explored 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. President Bense 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 conducted under the President's leadership also generated considerable information and have 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 aspirational peer institutions, to identify benchmarks, and to establish targets for future performance on Key Performance Indicators. Other information was available in the existing UWF and State University System Strategic Plans; internal divisional, college, and unit plans; and other reports from external consultants and internal work groups.
The input from UWF stakeholders regarding so many different aspects of the University helped clarify priorities for the coming years and guided the development of the University of West Florida Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. This document captures the initial components of UWF's Strategic Plan, focusing on the mission, vision, values, strategic directions, and high-level priorities. Any strategic plan is only as good as the entire University community's commitment to the identified priorities, the implementation of the plan, and its ongoing relevance. The expectation is that the UWF Strategic Plan will inform additional planning within the institution, will remain dynamic, will be monitored for currency, and will be refined, as needed. UWF is committed to finding the best ways to institutionalize strategic planning and process monitoring to guide programmatic and budgetary decisions at the University.
 "New Normal" is the phrase referenced in higher education literature and used by UWF leadership to describe the challenges faced by colleges and universities with the increasing focus on accountability, an increasing demand for more educated workers, the need to compete for fewer resources—particularly declining state revenue, the changing demographics of the student population, the impact of technology on education, and increased competition from other higher education institutions.