Launching a New Strategic Plan
What does it take for an education organization to become a first-choice institution for students? Research, a choir of voices, and 6 variables to deliver maximum value to those we serve. In this video, Brendan B. Kelly, Ph.D., President of the University of West Georgia, reveals a new strategic plan to meet academic excellence in the 21st century. Using a commitment statement based on three strategic priorities, UWG plans to bring to life a sense of belonging and connectedness while shaping the future of their organization. Watch below as Brendan shares UWG's process of becoming.
- What are “the Big 6” variables in education, and how do they deliver value to students?
- In what ways is your organization prepared to meet the needs of 21st century students? Are there areas that offer room for improvement?
- As you watched Brendan launch UWG’s new strategic plan to employees, what were your takeaways? How can you similarly communicate your organization’s strategic plan to your team?
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Three. Four. One Hundred. Two Hundred and Ninety. And more than Thirteen Hundred.
Those are the variables that have contributed to our process of becoming at the University of West Georgia.
Becoming is what you grow to be,
and for us as a university it is critical that we come together in order to chart that next chapter in the institution’s history.
It began with three foundational pillars that were the basis for our work,
and that was followed by four intense months of strategic planning steering team,
colleagues from throughout the university, going through more than 100 discovery sessions.
More than 290 hours of discussion and debate, feedback, and collaboration, and collective wisdom.
More than 1300 people,
legislators, and community members, students, faculty, staff,
university leadership, and alumni,
from decades of the University of West Georgia’s history
all coming together to contribute to our process of becoming.
The result? Our new strategic plan.
A strategic plan that will guide our work, every action, every dollar, every discussion, in 2021 till 2026,
so that we are able to fulfill and bring life to our collective relevance, competitiveness, and placemaking.
That stakeholder-based process the collaboration, the discussion, the input, the feedback that’s not where it ends.
You see, The University of West Georgia doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we exist in a marketplace for higher education,
an industry nationally, and it is an industry going through dramatic change as we speak.
So, we had to rely on market analysis as well.
And we focused in on research that Gallup partnered with Purdue University to gather a few years ago,
they surveyed tens of thousands of university alumni across the country asking one simple question:
What was the value of your college education in your work and life for the years afterwards?
It came down to two areas, six variables,
and only three percent of alumni, nationally reported having all six experiences.
Gallup and Purdue called it the big six,
and the areas were experience and support.
Support because the variables included things like
a professor lighting the fire of learning inside of me and getting me excited about studying,
having somebody who cared about me, who knew my name and was glad I came.
And finally, having a mentor,
somebody who was going to help connect the dots between what I was doing in the classroom and what would come after college:
that personal attention and guidance.
Second was experience, being able to work on a project that lasted longer than one semester,
so that I could learn deep work and long work.
Having a professional internship that gave me an opportunity to launch my career before I graduated
by gaining some professional experience in my field.
Finally, being involved,
being deeply involved and connected to extracurricular activities and organizations, so that
I just wasn’t at college;
I was part of the university.
That connectedness, that support,
these are experiences and variables that we need to deliver on at the University of West Georgia all of the time.
Our stakeholder engagement was really a market analysis of the University of West Georgia
and our strategic planning steering team did a phenomenal job of going through hundreds of hours of engagement
that produced five themes.
Five themes that the collective voice came to over and over and over again,
alumni from 50 years ago and students who have been here for five weeks kept talking about the same five themes.
The first, identity: the fact that it is critical for the University of West Georgia to understand who it is,
what it has to offer, and why that is amazing
and making certain that we’re communicating that identity in a
consistent, powerful, and compelling way all of the time
is a critical piece of what has to happen next.
that feeling of being connected to a community, being a part of something.
Followed by connectedness, being connected to others in that community.
It is that sense of belonging followed by that sense of intimacy.
Fourth, race and diversity came up over and over again.
Being the type of university community where the things that make different, the
things that make us individuals, are the things that make us a community.
Some of the things that connect us together and celebrating that difference,
being a part of the promise at the University of West Georgia.
And finally, the tradition of academic excellence that has existed at this university for decades,
but academic excellence meeting the expectations of students in the 21st century looks different than it looks in the 20th.
So it is now imperative upon us to carry academic excellence and redefine it in this new era.
But two of those themes came out most prominently: belonging and connectedness.
Our stakeholder base engagement process, the market analysis,
followed by the themes that the strategic planning steering team were able to draw out,
represent a choir of voices at the University of West Georgia,
a choir that is collectively if not unconsciously committed to the very same future for this institution.
And that has culminated in a commitment statement that will lead our strategic plan,
a statement about exceeding expectations.
We dedicate ourselves to curating a first choice university.
Curation is a powerful word.
In the museum world, curation
or a curator, is somebody who takes
old things and introduces new ones so they can bring together an interpretation
that creates value in other people’s lives,
that teaches and impacts and compels.
Curators create powerful experiences and it is critical for us to curate the experience of being a part of the University of West Georgia at every turn.
We rooted this process in three fundamental priorities.
One, ensuring relevance for everything that we do,
making certain that the 21st century is what we are delivering on at the University of West Georgia,
in every program, in every service,
so that the experience of being here remains relevant long after graduation.
Two, to raise our standards,
to make certain that we are asking more of ourselves
so that when we invite new people into this community and ask them to ask more of themselves,
they’re in an environment that is competitive
and that sense of competitiveness is embedded inside of their bones.
And finally, placemaking,
we have to build on the assets that we have, assets that so many other institutions across the country would envy.
We want to make certain that that making of place
is a critical part of us bringing to life the sense of belonging
and connectedness that so many people in our community are craving from the University of West Georgia.
For each of those priorities, objectives have been laid out,
and your divisional leaders will be coming to you over the coming days
to have more of an in-depth look at how your division, your work, your contributions as an individual
and as a unit will help us move forward as a university.
And what are the outcomes that we desire from this strategic plan?
You’ve heard me say it before. Growth and excellence.
And growth is not just about enrollment
growth of a public university is about its sophistication and complexity, its intricacy,
and the advancement of its sense of purpose.
Mediocrity is easy.
We don’t have to wake up early or stay up late to be mediocre.
It’s important for us to have higher expectations for ourselves all the time,
every moment of time that we invest, every dollar spent, every action taken has to feed into higher expectations of the end user.
Their choosing us is what makes us first choice in the marketplace.
We want to make certain that
a prospective student for the University of West Georgia
is as excited to make this university a part of who they are
as alumni who graduated decades ago and get to carry that sense of pride.
This process has been an intense one.
It’s been one that’s new for the University of West Georgia.
But I don’t think that bringing the University of West Georgia together
around shaping the future of the institution is new.
There is a collectiveness to be harnessed here,
and I believe that this process of becoming for this institution has helped to mark that.
I am grateful for the intense work of the strategic planning steering team bringing so many people together.
I am grateful for the thoughtful and intentional effort in discussion, debate, and collaboration that so many put into developing
priorities and objectives that we all get to invest ourselves into moving forward.
I’m grateful to be a part of the University of West Georgia and having the opportunity to chart what comes next.
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