Academic Planning in Action at Shippensburg Univesity
Academic strategic planning can take many forms and occurs at the program, department, and college level in the division of Academic Affairs. These efforts do not duplicate the AMP process, but rather enhance it. Indeed, the AMP process will integrate the planning work done at the program, department, and college levels with that occurring in other divisions of the University, as well as with the University's overall planning and budget cycles.
Some examples of academic strategic planning in action at the program, department, and college level are highlighted below:
In September 2009, a College of Arts and Sciences strategic planning form, adapated for the communications and journalism department, was distributed to every faculty member in the department. Each faculty member was asked to fill it out during the fall semester. By the end of the fall semester, feedback had been received from the vast majority of the faculty in the department. In January 2010, department chair Dr. Joe Borrell worked with graduate assistant Kara Miller and Grad Council Representative Dr. Kim Garris to compile the results. At the end of the spring 2010 semester, a general version was produced for the entire department and another specific to the graduate program/school. Lessons learned from the process: Having others help you is an important factor to keep in the process since it lessens individual bias in compiling and interpreting the feedback. Editing down the feedback also proved to be difficult. You want a comprehensive and cohesive set of findings, but also want to keep in the diversity of opinion on crucial points. It's important to step back from your day-to-day work when doing this, not to rush the process, and give contributors plenty of time to ponder. It's important to take your time with the process in order to consider and accept contradictory viewpoints after many conversations about the department's/program's long-term direction.
As a first step in its implementation of the academic master plan, the Office of Extended Studies (OES) has recently checked the alignment of its goals with those of AMP. The attached crosswalk document will assist the OES to prioritize its activities and in the planning budget cycle for upcoming years.
Recently all departments in the College of Arts and Sciences have undergone SWOT analyses of their programs. The Mathematics Department approached this task in several stages in order to get maximal participation of faculty members. The following short article describes our process.
At the October 30, 2009 meeting of the John L. Grove College of Business Advisory Board, board members, Grove College administrators, faculty, and honors students, along with representatives of the Shippensburg University Foundation, participated in an exercise designed to aid the College in its planning efforts as part of the development of the University's Academic Master Plan. Read about these activities in the following document.
The Middle States self-study examined the fourteen standards of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and demonstrated that we are in compliance with all standards and made recommendations for improvements. One of the standards (Standard 2, see below) has the title Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal. Our compliance was demonstrated by the fact that we have an annual planning process that is outlined in our Program Planning and Budget Guidelines, published every spring, and that we have a university strategic plan. One of the recommendations in our self-study was to improve our strategic planning processes, by moving to a model where every division has a strategic plan that is then coordinated into a university-wide strategic plan. Therefore, the Academic Master Plan will be the first strategic plan of the division of Academic Affairs. As outlined in our current process (in the Program Planning and Budget Guidelines) updating and using the Academic Mater Plan (and ultimately the revised University Strategic Plan) will be an annual process. This ongoing annual process of review, reflection, and revision is at the heart of the Middle States standards and principles. We will summarize the changes that we have made and how the resources are allocated when we submit the Periodic Review Report to Middle States in 2014 and also when we do our next self-study and visit in 2018-2019.
Middle States Standard 2: An institution conducts ongoing planning and resource allocation based on its mission and goals, develops objectives to achieve them, and utilizes the results of its assessment activities for institutional renewal, implementation and subsequent evaluation of the success of the strategic plan and resource allocation support the development and change necessary to improve and to maintain institutional quality.