Strategic Plan Update: Preliminary report heard, tentative date for final report set at April 19

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 7:41 PM

In late January, Edinboro University announced the construction of a new five-year plan, led by the campus’ strategic planning committee.
The strategic plan that the university was operating under previously (2013-2018) had been conducting by former university president Dr. Julie Wollman and ended last year.

“Early on we decided to follow pretty much what the state system is looking at in their strategic overview of the state system as a whole. They are looking at three big things: student success, university success, and system success. From those three, we are looking at student success and university success,” Matt Cettin said. Cettin serves as co-chair of the strategic planning committee along with interim provost Dr. James Fisher.

According to Cettin (also director of institutional research and assessment), student success and university success have three big ideas under them. For student success, those ideas are: academic success, student well-being and experimental education. Under university success, the focus is: fiscal well-being, auxiliary operations, which include on-campus housing and dining halls, and overall university climate/culture.

“We heard early on that people wanted to feel more of a community, making sure that everyone is civil to each other. When we did the identity retreat last summer, that came out as a major theme, people wanted more of a community,” Cettin said about the focus on improving university climate.

The identity retreat was hosted by the then newly-appointed interim university president Michael Hannan. According to Cettin, the retreat opened a dialogue surrounding the question: ‘What is the identity of Edinboro?’

 “It was around when we were undergoing the [re]branding process; it was kind of a kick-off to the strategic plan in a way, so that everyone was working with the same vision,” Cettin said.

 “The stage that we are in right now is to take those three ideas (under student success and university success), and kind of come up with tactics, ways that we can improve those things or do those things better. We’re in the gathering stage right now.”

Currently, the larger strategic planning group is broken up into groups of 3-5 people around the six categories. These groups are reviewing notes from the open forum sessions that the strategic planning committee hosted, along with looking at data collected from the campus-wide survey sent out early this semester. Furthermore, the strategic planning groups have been meeting with individuals and groups around campus.

“We tried to make the committee as inclusive and representative as possible,” Cettin said. “What is really interesting is that the committee is comprised of everyone from the chairman of the council of trustees down to [faculty and staff]. Dr. Hannan’s idea was to keep senior leadership out of it. So that they don’t influence the decisions. If you’ve worked in these positions long enough, it’s hard to tell your boss no. So, it’s a nice strata of mid-level career professionals. We have people like Monica Clem from career services, Philomena Gill from academic success, and students and faculty.”

Everyone who currently serves on the strategic planning committee has volunteered for their position; no one was appointed to the committee.

“We wanted people who were genuinely interested in each of those ideas.”

April 19 is the target date for presentation of findings of the strategic planning groups. However, Cettin explained: “The end date of April 19 isn’t actually an end date. With this plan what we’re trying to do is not write it all based off what two or three people think, or even the committee thinks. What we’re doing is asking, ‘What are the big things that we need to focus on?’ And then what are the three or four major things under those big things, and then probably for the next year make sure that we are making the best decisions possible around each of those things.”

A report based on the preliminary findings of the strategic planning committee was delivered March 25.

“It’s really an open plan, and it will fit nicely with the incoming president, because they will have some say on what we should be focused on in terms of numbers. This is a unique process because the way that strategic plans are carried out is top down, and we really don’t have that, we don’t have a president who is focused on that,” Cettin said.

Cettin also spoke on contrasts between former Edinboro president Dr. H. Fred Walker’s “Our Path Forward” work and the current plan.

“It wasn’t ever formalized (Walker’s attempt at a strategic plan before resigning), so there were never any written documents about what that was supposed to be. It was kind of the framework for any strategic plan, and you have to remember that any time that  somebody  comes in, this is going to happen again, this is going  to happen  with the  new  president, they’re going to want to come in and get a feel for who we are, how we operate and what we’re focused on. I think that was Dr. Walker’s way of doing that,” Cettin explained.

“There were some really good things that came out of that, for example he had these task forces around different ideas. It would be silly for us to throw out all the work that the people did just because it wasn’t formalized. So, we’ve been mining that for data as well,” Cettin said.                                                                                                                                           

“The biggest gripe in leadership was that we weren’t really sure what the end goal was for that plan because it was never officially formalized as a road map for the university...The whole idea of this plan is that no one knows us better than our own selves, so we should probably say what we should focus on in the next three to four years.”

Shayma Musa | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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