Every five years, Augustana College releases a new strategic plan in order to reassess and adapt the school’s objectives as an institution of higher learning. At present, an updated version of this plan nears completion, according to administration.
In its most recent incarnation, which will be submitted for approval at the April Board of Trustees’ meeting, the strategic plan outlines five overarching goals for the college throughout the 2014-2019 period, according to information from president Rob Oliver. This marks a reduction from the eight goals present on previous drafts of the plan presented to students and faculty last fall.
Included in the final draft are aims to serve a larger student body with more postgraduate scholars, widen Augustana’s role within Sioux Falls and the larger community, and promote the Augustana “brand” to prospective students and donors.
More specific targets involve increasing enrollment to 2500 students (2000 undergraduate, 500 postgraduate), an 85 percent student retention rate and an endowment of $100 million.
Upgrades to the campus infrastructure have also been slated for the near future. After completion of the new science facility, the school will respond to needs for new student housing, a wellness center and an expanded Commons building, according to academic dean Susan Hasseler.
According to Oliver, the new strategic plan addresses the school’s needs in a constantly evolving educational environment.
“Institutions have planning cycles–that’s part of their culture,” Oliver said. “… But as you confront a changing landscape, solving problems in new ways, you have to say: ‘I’m not sure the plan is guiding our behavior.’ We need to restate our goals so the plan is guiding us as we move forward.”
Oliver also noted that regularly updating an institutional plan is “a matter of being proactive.”
“The whole ideas is that you put a plan out there and say, ‘This is where we want to go, and we’re going to be intentional about it,’” Oliver said.
Hasseler believes that the most crucial changes in the plan concern student success. Like Oliver, she hopes to open Augustana to “a universe of learners” with expanded postgraduate and online continuing ED programs and to “leverage the abundant resources of Sioux Falls” through strategic partnerships with other preeminent institutions.
“I like the focus on the innovative use of technology, new undergraduate and graduate programming, and new strategies for making sure every student can apply what they are learning through hands on experiences both on and off campus,” Hasseler said.
If the proposed strategic plan is approved by the Augustana Board of Trustees, the school’s next task will be applying its various precepts at the departmental level.
This stage of implementation will involved increased coordination with students and faculty, whose input has been solicited at several points throughout the planning process via survey or focus group participation.
“I like the fact that it puts the students first and that we are not content simply to what we’ve always done,” philosophy professor David O’Hara said.
For all the revisions made to the Augustana strategic plan, though, Oliver stresses that school’s core values have remained the same.
“The things that make Augustana, Augustana won’t change.”