This week, the Board of Trustees will get its first look at the goals of the 2014-2019 strategic plan for the college. The planning process began this spring with the help of Sage Project Consultants, which has assisted in gathering information through focus groups, surveys and interviews throughout the summer.
During the fall semester, president Rob Oliver and other members of college leadership met weekly to analyze the data and create the current plan with eight overarching goals and numerous objectives.
“Out of the feedback we received, themes start to emerge,” Oliver said.
Over the last few weeks, the administration has held several meetings with faculty, staff and students asking for feedback on the plan. Surveys were also sent out via email for anyone who wanted to provide additional comments and opinions after the meetings.
Vice president for student services and dean of students Jim Bies said the college wants to give students the opportunity to give feedback during the strategic planning process.
“Every initiative involves students as our primary stakeholders in this,” Bies said. “I can’t imagine us not moving forward with as much transparency as we can.”
According to Oliver, the strategic plan this year is more specific than it has been in the past and has a “greater sense of urgency.”
“The whole climate for higher education is changing rapidly,” he said. “Our goal is to define those areas where we want to lead the change amidst a changing landscape around us.”
Changes included in the current draft of the plan include expanding career planning for students, growing the endowment to $100 million, assessing current academic and student life programs and implementing a new pricing strategy for undergraduate students. The plan also calls for an increased enrollment of 2,000 students and a graduate enrollment of 500 students.
Oliver said the goal of expanding the graduate program is a response to the needs of marketplace employers and others who are seeking postgraduate education.
“We need to take advantage of those [opportunities] in order to continue to create recurring revenue streams for the college so that we can support the undergraduate programs as well,” Oliver said.
Augustana Student Association (ASA) president senior Matt Anderson called the goals of the strategic plan “ambitious.”
“They’re definitely attainable goals, but they’re something we’ll have to reach for,” he said. “It’s exciting to see that Augie has these big plans and that we’re not staying stationary.”
Students have already seen some of the changes arising from the strategic plan, such as the decision earlier this semester to lower the graduation credit requirement from 130 to 124.
“Clearly it’s going to affect students sooner rather than later, hopefully in a positive way,” Oliver said.
While some decisions are already in progress, the administration is still working on the overall plan. The next steps will be to identify timelines and budgets for the target objectives, according to Oliver.
“Some things will take more time,” he said. “Some things will take more money, but if we’re doing our job correctly, it all is important.”
Vice president for finance and administration Tom Meyer said the college is looking at ways to use resources more effectively, but decisions have not yet been made regarding how initiatives in the strategic plan will be funded.
“Right now, our goal is to have something for the board to approve or act upon at [its] next meeting in April,” Meyer said.