Louise Sandmeyer, Executive Director of the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment
Billie Willits, Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Jan Jacobs, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and International Programs
All Penn State budget units have received strategic planning guidelines for 2005/06 through 2007/08 from Provost Erickson; the due date for the plans is February 1, 2005. Most of the units were asked to include a recycling plan that describes how funds will be redirected to highest priority needs, as well as strategic performance indicators and trend data.
Over 50 University Park administrators participated in a discussion of strategic planning guidelines ata Quality Advocates’ Network meeting on June 4, 2004. Five campus colleges participated via PicTel as well. The discussion included a review of the strategic planning guidelines for the next cycle, details on the relationship between the strategic plans and the Middle States self study, and information on how the faculty/staff survey results can be used in strategic planning.
Suggestions for how a unit might approach the planning process (Sandmeyer):
There is no one right way to do unit level planning. The approach you choose should reflect your unit’s values and culture. Planning needs to be contextual and continuing.
Planning is not about looking good, but getting better. Planning, improvement and assessment are linked.
Involve individuals in the development of the plan who will have responsibility for implementing the plan. Create ownership.
View planning as an opportunity to build community through conversation and dialogue about what’s important. It’s both a social and an analytical process. If all you do is crunch numbers, that creates no ownership. If all you do is talk, there is no accountability.
You need both a plan and a strategy for implementing the plan. Planning without accompanying actions and measures is planning for the sake of planning and not very satisfying for those involved.
Be practical, keep it simple and communicate…. Don’t think of this as writing a plan for the provost … see it as a tool for getting done what needs to be done.
The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment is available to consult with administrators and facilitate unit-level strategic planning processes.
An update on Penn State’s self-study for Middle States re-accreditation (Jacobs):
The self-study will culminate in peer evaluation team visits to campus colleges this fall and to the University Park campus April 10-13, 2005. The teaching and learning focus of the re-accreditation is related to goal #2 of the university strategic plan, which is “To enrich the educational experience of Penn State students by becoming a more student centered university.” University self-study groups have been working for over a year and have drafted reports that will be finalized this summer.
Four challenges and opportunities related to teaching and learning have emerged as a result of the self-study process, and Dr. Jacobs recommended that academic units consider identifying strategies to address these challenges and opportunities as part of their strategic planning efforts. The four themes are as follows:
We need to better articulate expectations for student learning and behavior at the university. We include information on academic integrity in our syllabi, but we could do a much better job of stating what we expect students to learn and how it fits into a coherent, systematic curriculum.
We need to integrate curricula across locations, courses, units, and colleges. Over time, curricular drift has occurred and students may not get the same background to prepare them for upper level courses.
There is an opportunity to put more emphasis on applying knowledge outside the classroom. We are doing some of this, but the experiences are not always fully integrated into the curricula.
We need to assess student-learning outcomes. There is some activity at the unit level, with a majority of units reporting that they do link assessment data to academic planning decisions. However, we do not have a coherent university-wide assessment plan. We should use the strategic planning process to start developing one.
An update on the spring 2004 faculty/staff survey results and ideas for use of the results in the strategic planning process (Willits):
There was a 51% return rate on the faculty/staff survey, and the data will prove useful in identifying where improvements are needed. An insert was published in the Penn State Intercom this past April summarizing the results; it will be available on the Office of Human Resources (OHR) website in the near future. An executive summary also will be available on the OHR website soon, and each college will receive their specific information by mid-summer. This will include a comparison of their unit’s responses against the overall university responses. In September, a more complete analysis of the approximately 9,800 open-ended responses that were received will be available to colleges. These data should prove useful in the strategic planning process to inform decisions about unit improvements. Budget executives may also want to plan additional data collection regarding strengths and opportunities for improvement as well as ways to implement the changes.
The Quality Advocates Network meets several times each semester to share ideas and examples of improvement and change. To join the Quality Advocates Network mailing list or to learn more about the meetings scheduled, contact the staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Quality Advocates Network is open to all Penn State faculty, staff, administrators, and students.