FAQs about the Strategic Planning Process, Winter 2012
January 09, 2012
FAQs about the Strategic Planning Process
How will we ensure that this process leads to measurable results for Lewis & Clark?
When President Glassner convened a small group of advisors in summer 2011 to begin the planning process, he made it absolutely clear that the process will not produce a wish list of items we can only dream of happening. It will not waste participants’ time. So from the beginning, those leading and involved with the process have had as their purpose the development of specific, realistic, and time- and cost-bound goals and plans that also identify who will implement them, when they will be implemented, and how much they will cost to be implemented. Goals and plans that emerge from the strategic priority groups must address all of these issues, and they must do so in conversation and cooperation with those impacted by them. Finally, once the work groups have produced their goals and plans and they have all been woven together into an institution-wide strategic plan, appropriate officers in the College will be charged with and supported in ensuring implementation of the plan. The anticipated time horizon for completion of the plan is about three years from the time when the institution-wide strategic plan is completed and accepted by the board of trustees.
Why did the Planning to Plan group choose the first three strategic priorities as areas in which the College should “achieve and maintain leadership”? Doesn’t this choice ignore many of the other strengths in the three schools?
President Glassner charged the Planning to Plan group with finding shared strengths across all three schools that can be developed as hallmarks, identifying characteristics of the College’s leadership for national audiences. International education, faculty-student collaboration, and environmental scholarship, education, and engagement meet those criteria. To be sure, there are many other strengths at Lewis & Clark but most of them are unique to one of the three schools and have already been developed as strengths (or await development; see the next FAQ).
Please explain in greater detail what the fourth strategic priority is about?
While the law school and GSEC have their own strategic plans that have already led them to identify and build on their unique strengths, CAS (“the college”) does not have such a plan. As a consequence the Planning to Plan group sees this process as an opportunity for the college to engage in a mini-strategic planning process that identifies underutilized strengths and resources (beyond those targeted in priorities 1-3), and makes plans to put them to proper use and give them the public recognition they deserve and that can entice good students to the college. Also, the Planning to Plan group suggested that the college has an assemblage of faculty resources that permits it to honestly claim that it offers the full range of liberal education options proposed these days as separate responses to the claims that the liberal arts are irrelevant. Teach the skills students need to succeed in higher education and life? The college does that. Teach toward citizenship and engagement? The college does that. Engage students in seeking and creating knowledge for its own sake? The college does that, too. And more often than not the college does all three together in single courses. The college has, in fact, a diverse, multi-talented faculty with many intellectual perspectives. The Planning to Plan group encourages group 4 to harness and hold up that diversity as one of the college’s truly unique virtues and advertize it as one of the key features to set Lewis & Clark College’s CAS apart from and above all other liberal arts schools in the Northwest.
The fifth strategic priority seems very ambitious. Will work groups be allowed to refine their priorities if they think they need to do so?
Remember that President Glassner and the Planning to Plan group intend the language of “The Journey Forward” to be only “a preliminary description of the goals” for the College, “a direction finder for those who plan Lewis & Clark’s journey forward in the 21st century.” Indeed, work group 5 already began to refine its sense of what is realistic in its December 2011 meeting, giving license to some of the language Kugler used in the January 9, 2012 update letter. In any case, the spirit of the priority can be affirmed: we need to ensure that people across the country know and appreciate Lewis & Clark’s existing and future distinction. Whether it is as the “best in the west,” “best in the Northwest,” or “best in Oregon,” we need to be known across the country for all we do so well. This emphasis on preserving the spirit, not so much the letter, of the six priorities developed by the Planning to Plan work group applies in all cases.
Isn’t the work of priority work group 6 going to be quite different from the others?
Yes. In keeping with President Glassner’s determination that the planning process must produce actionable goals and plans, this group actually functions as an aid to the work of the others. As groups 1-5 devise goals and plans to achieve their priorities they will consult with group 6 to better understand the financial implications of their goals and plans.
Won’t group 6 also be looking for new revenues to support the goals and plans proposed by the other priority groups?
Absolutely. That is in the charge the Planning to Plan work group gave to group 6 in “The Journey Forward.” The strategic priority begins with the imperative, “enhance … revenue streams,” and the sub-points in the charge to group 6 urge it to look in particular for new revenue from relevant academic programs, charitable giving, and facilities use. Also, group 6 will be looking for economies of cooperation that we can and should be using in the College to ensure that we use our current revenues in the most efficient way.
And won’t group 6 work on facilities and other infrastructure issues, as well?
Yes, but in a focused way. The group will take a close look at the facilities needs on campus and the aspirations we have for improvements, large and small, for the College’s physical plant. However, no one should expect this process to yield plans for large-scale construction projects—such efforts lie outside of this planning process (see further the answer to the first FAQ above). And note also that group 6 has as one of its special concerns our technology infrastructure. As we welcome a new CIO to the College in the coming months, learn valuable lessons from our deeply experienced Interim CIO, Keiko Pitter, and receive a detailed and realistic evaluation of our information technology infrastructure from a proven consultant, we have a special opportunity to make substantial improvement in this area so critical to all aspects of the higher education enterprise. While advising other work groups on the feasibility of their plans and goals, group 6 will work to lay plans for the improvement of our technology infrastructure, and focus those improvements on best serving the other strategic priorities adopted through the planning process.
How will the separate work and reports of the strategic priority groups be coordinated and melded into a single, institution-wide strategic plan?
The members of the steering committee, and especially the three faculty coordinators (Bixby, Kugler, and Tufte), will ensure that the efforts of the work groups are well coordinated and that opportunities for cooperation are realized. Also, the work groups will have a host of tools provided by the steering committee and in particular its more experienced strategic planners, Figueroa and Plautz, and made available on an intranet web site that facilitate their separate and common work.
After the priority work groups have completed their work in late spring 2012, Kugler and Figueroa will set to work on crafting an institution-wide strategic plan that should be ready in the 2012-2013 academic year.
How are we covering the costs of the planning process so that it does not impact the regular operating budget?
President Glassner has made money available from the Strategic Initiative Fund to meet the costs of the planning process. By the way, in case you didn’t know it, the Strategic Initiative Fund, administered by the Executive Council in cooperation with President Glassner, is essentially the president’s discretionary fund at Lewis & Clark. Most college presidents keep such a fund for their own, discretionary use: President Glassner makes his discretionary fund largely available to all for new and innovative efforts in the College. Check out the list of projects funded in the latest round of awards from the Strategic Initiative Fund.
How can I help with the planning process if I’m not a member of one of the work groups?
There are many things you can do.
• First, you can attend the Faculty and Staff Forum on January 18, 2012, to be held in the Council Chambers from 4:00-5:30 p.m. for faculty and staff. There will be a brief presentation on the planning process followed by an extended period for questions and discussion. It is important that we hear from you, and this is a significant opportunity for making your views heard.
• Second, you can use the Feedback feature on this page to send the steering committee your ideas, questions, and concerns. You can expect generous responsiveness from us.
• Third, you can give generously of your time if asked for an interview by one or more of the work groups. We will try to coordinate our efforts so you only have to sit for a single interview, if you are on our list.
• Fourth, if there is someone you think should be interviewed for one of the topics, please be very free in sharing your suggestion with us by using the Feedback link.
• Fifth, almost surely, some of the work groups will hold smaller forums or panel discussions. Be generous in your participation in those events.
What is the most important thing I can do to help?
Enthusiastically support the planning process, encourage your colleagues who are in the thick of it, anticipate good things from it, and commit yourself to doing the work ahead to implement the plans that come from it.