As any good business leader, field general or basketball coach knows, the key to long-term success is to identify key goals, establish a plan to achieve them, then follow through with resourceful and well-organized effort.
That’s the thinking behind the Newman University Strategic Plan 2009-2014, a blueprint for the university over the next five years that sets specific goals, outlines action steps and establishes performance indicators to measure success.
Through these efforts, Newman aims to achieve its vision of being the Catholic university of choice for the region by 2014. Here we take a look at how that vision and the plan that supports it were developed, and how the Strategic Plan will be put into action.
A collaborative effort
The process began more than a year ago with the creation of a “Visioning Task Force” that included representation from faculty, staff, students, alumni and the Board of Trustees. Through a series of steps the task force took input from employees across the university, the Newman Administrative Council, the President’s Cabinet and ultimately the full Board of Trustees to shape a vision for Newman toward its 80th year in 2013-14. From that, specific goals and objectives were identified to bring that vision to reality. Newman Provost Michael Austin, Ph.D., then led a process whereby working groups of faculty and staff mapped out the details of each goal.
Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. and other members of the university leadership team said making the process more inclusive and transparent helped build a sense of ownership for the Newman community.
“Rather than have just the top level of the institution create a plan and present it as a ‘finished product,’ this approach allowed faculty and staff to become more fully engaged in the planning process, and brought more minds and good ideas to the table,” Carrocci said. “There was of course guidance from the leadership team, but it was truly a university wide effort that the Board of Trustees found very impressive.”
“It was a good process,” said School of Arts and Humanities Administrative Assistant Julie Brin, who was on the Goal 4 Committee. “Everyone’s input was welcome, and I felt like everyone worked together well and listened.”
“The group I was in worked very well together,” said Director of Field Education and Instructor of Social Work Leslie Jensby, M.S.W., who was on the Goal 3 Committee. “We were able to bring in our own ideas for discussion and then collaborated on the final recommendations.”
“It was a huge step toward transparency in our planning and decision making process,” added Associate Professor of Decision Sciences and Information Technology John Vogt of the Goal 5 Committee. “There were no topics that were off-limits, and the willingness to share information was most impressive. I think it bodes well for the future that we will involve as many constituent groups as possible in this kind of decision-making.”
Implementation and flexibility
Following the completion of operational plans for all areas of the university, the Strategic Plan will be implemented in July. The planning process began before the university and the nation began feeling the full brunt of recent financial challenges, but as the process continued it became clear that economic issues would play a role in the university’s plans. Austin said the timeline for the Strategic Plan was designed with the current economic challenges in mind.
“During the first year of the plan’s implementation, we will focus on action items that will not cost extra money and the initiatives that will attract new students and generate extra revenues,” Austin said. “In subsequent years, we plan to use this revenue to support the new programs and initiatives built into the later stages of the Strategic Plan.”
Carrocci added that the key to implementing a strategic plan during a financial crisis is flexibility.
“We will need to be flexible in some aspects given the state of the economy now,” Carrocci said. “Still, the fundamental goals and objectives of the plan are achievable. I am fully confident this plan will help Newman realize its vision toward our 80th year and beyond.”
Committee members agreed.
“I don’t think our goals will be affected at all,” Jensby said about the initiatives to provide educational opportunities for more people in the community through partnerships. “Looking at the financial situation today, my sense is we’re more committed than ever to doing that. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Strategic Plan supports vision for 2014
The Newman University Strategic Plan is built on the foundation of the Mission Statement, the Newman Code, and the Core Values of Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Culture of Service and Global Perspective. The plan’s six goals, outlined below, are specifically designed to achieve the recently created Vision Statement, which outlines the university’s spiritual, academic, financial and physical state of affairs in 2014.
1 Newman University will nurture our Catholic identity and mission.
Newman will seek to better educate all community members on the institution’s roots in the ASC charism and the Church; foster the integration of Catholic intellectual traditions with curricular and cocurricular activities; and become the premiere resource for Catholic education in the region.
2 Newman University will provide a transforming learning experience forstudents inside and outside of the classroom.
Newman will implement new, innovative teaching and learning practices that challenge students; increase interdisciplinary programs by integrating professional studies, liberal arts and co curricular activities; and create a culture of assessment.
3 Newman University will create partnerships and programs that ensure access for students.
Newman will reach out to specific populations, including adult and Hispanic students as well as area dioceses, businesses and other organizations, to increase enrollment; provide the financial support to make Newman accessible to all students; and create more programs students and community members want and need.
4 Newman University will provide an excellent work environment where people thrive, performance excels and collaboration prevails.
The university will provide excellent communication of information and data; offer competitive compensation and benefit plans; encourage and support professional growth; and maintain a safe working environment.
5 Newman University will provide stable financial resources to sustain and promote the mission of the university.
The university will identify and pursue best practices in financial transparency; and create a financial plan that provides sufficient resources to maintain capital resources and fund educational programming and other direct student services.
6 Newman University will develop and maintain a dynamic physical and technological infrastructure.
Newman will create a new campus master plan that guides growth and promotes environmentally sustainable facilities; maintain existing facilities; and create a campus technology master plan that supports learning, communication, and assessment.