At the conclusion of the fall term, the first phase of strategic planning wrapped up for our departments and schools in the College of Arts & Letters. Next, we move to a meta-analysis of the unit strategic plans, specifically to uncover the emerging themes that will serve as the foundation for the college plan. By February, I will develop a response document, which will be returned to the faculty/staff for a comment period. The College Executive Committee will be tasked with amending the plan with the feedback from that comment period. The final plan will be presented to the faculty and staff at our spring convocation in April.
Despite a busy fall, most units in the college embraced this process. In these fiscally challenging times, it seems self-evident that planning, strategic or otherwise, can only facilitate the focus that we must acquire. Effective planning can address goals related to improving governance, program reach, accountability, and ultimately, the best use of public and development funding.
Nonetheless, there can be a danger of a disconnect between the plan and the organizational focus and daily activities in college. While the consensus is that these conversations have been worthwhile, there is a fear that the effort might result in a document that will find a special place on the shelves of chairs, directors, and upper-level administrators, to never be seen again. That will not happen under my watch.
A college’s organizational culture is strongly influenced by the dean as well as the leadership team surrounding the dean. The core values and behaviors demonstrated at the top of the organization will permeate throughout and can create a very strong culture for focus or change. However, it is not enough to simply build a strong culture, it must be a balanced one. I am committed to developing our potential, based on the plan that emerges from our faculty and staff conversations this fall. We will build a performance-centered culture that encourages a healthy level of risk taking (thinking in terms of what can be, not what has been) and an appreciation for learning, development and diversity of opinion. These factors fuel innovation and help propel stronger long-term growth and performance. To do this, we must have a plan… one that rises up from the faculty.