Shape the Future of the Organization

A stakeholder-based strategic planning process.
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Launching a New Strategic Plan

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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?
00:00
(Music plays in background)
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Three. Four. One Hundred. Two Hundred and Ninety. And more than Thirteen Hundred.
00:17
Those are the variables that have contributed to our process of becoming at the University of West Georgia.
00:26
Becoming is what you grow to be,
00:30
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.
00:42
It began with three foundational pillars that were the basis for our work,
00:48
and that was followed by four intense months of strategic planning steering team,
00:54
colleagues from throughout the university, going through more than 100 discovery sessions.
01:01
More than 290 hours of discussion and debate, feedback, and collaboration, and collective wisdom.
01:12
More than 1300 people,
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legislators, and community members, students, faculty, staff,
01:22
university leadership, and alumni,
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from decades of the University of West Georgia’s history
01:30
all coming together to contribute to our process of becoming.
01:37
The result? Our new strategic plan.
01:40
A strategic plan that will guide our work, every action, every dollar, every discussion, in 2021 till 2026,
01:50
so that we are able to fulfill and bring life to our collective relevance, competitiveness, and placemaking.
02:01
That stakeholder-based process the collaboration, the discussion, the input, the feedback that’s not where it ends.
02:10
You see, The University of West Georgia doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we exist in a marketplace for higher education,
02:15
an industry nationally, and it is an industry going through dramatic change as we speak.
02:22
So, we had to rely on market analysis as well.
02:26
And we focused in on research that Gallup partnered with Purdue University to gather a few years ago,
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they surveyed tens of thousands of university alumni across the country asking one simple question:
02:39
What was the value of your college education in your work and life for the years afterwards?
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It came down to two areas, six variables,
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and only three percent of alumni, nationally reported having all six experiences.
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Gallup and Purdue called it the big six,
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and the areas were experience and support.
03:03
Support because the variables included things like
03:07
a professor lighting the fire of learning inside of me and getting me excited about studying,
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having somebody who cared about me, who knew my name and was glad I came.
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And finally, having a mentor,
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somebody who was going to help connect the dots between what I was doing in the classroom and what would come after college:
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that personal attention and guidance.
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Second was experience, being able to work on a project that lasted longer than one semester,
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so that I could learn deep work and long work.
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Having a professional internship that gave me an opportunity to launch my career before I graduated
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by gaining some professional experience in my field.
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Finally, being involved,
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being deeply involved and connected to extracurricular activities and organizations, so that
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I just wasn’t at college;
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I was part of the university.
04:08
That connectedness, that support,
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these are experiences and variables that we need to deliver on at the University of West Georgia all of the time.
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Our stakeholder engagement was really a market analysis of the University of West Georgia
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and our strategic planning steering team did a phenomenal job of going through hundreds of hours of engagement
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that produced five themes.
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Five themes that the collective voice came to over and over and over again,
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alumni from 50 years ago and students who have been here for five weeks kept talking about the same five themes.
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The first, identity: the fact that it is critical for the University of West Georgia to understand who it is,
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what it has to offer, and why that is amazing
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and making certain that we’re communicating that identity in a
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consistent, powerful, and compelling way all of the time
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is a critical piece of what has to happen next.
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Second, belonging,
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that feeling of being connected to a community, being a part of something.
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Followed by connectedness, being connected to others in that community.
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It is that sense of belonging followed by that sense of intimacy.
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Fourth, race and diversity came up over and over again.
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Being the type of university community where the things that make different, the
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things that make us individuals, are the things that make us a community.
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Some of the things that connect us together and celebrating that difference,
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being a part of the promise at the University of West Georgia.
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And finally, the tradition of academic excellence that has existed at this university for decades,
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but academic excellence meeting the expectations of students in the 21st century looks different than it looks in the 20th.
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So it is now imperative upon us to carry academic excellence and redefine it in this new era.
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But two of those themes came out most prominently: belonging and connectedness.
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Our stakeholder base engagement process, the market analysis,
06:32
followed by the themes that the strategic planning steering team were able to draw out,
06:40
represent a choir of voices at the University of West Georgia,
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a choir that is collectively if not unconsciously committed to the very same future for this institution.
06:52
And that has culminated in a commitment statement that will lead our strategic plan,
06:58
a statement about exceeding expectations.
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We dedicate ourselves to curating a first choice university.
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Curation is a powerful word.
07:16
In the museum world, curation
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or a curator, is somebody who takes
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old things and introduces new ones so they can bring together an interpretation
07:29
that creates value in other people’s lives,
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that teaches and impacts and compels.
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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.
07:49
We rooted this process in three fundamental priorities.
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One, ensuring relevance for everything that we do,
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making certain that the 21st century is what we are delivering on at the University of West Georgia,
08:04
in every program, in every service,
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so that the experience of being here remains relevant long after graduation.
08:14
Two, to raise our standards,
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to make certain that we are asking more of ourselves
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so that when we invite new people into this community and ask them to ask more of themselves,
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they’re in an environment that is competitive
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and that sense of competitiveness is embedded inside of their bones.
08:39
And finally, placemaking,
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we have to build on the assets that we have, assets that so many other institutions across the country would envy.
08:50
We want to make certain that that making of place
08:54
is a critical part of us bringing to life the sense of belonging
09:01
and connectedness that so many people in our community are craving from the University of West Georgia.
09:10
For each of those priorities, objectives have been laid out,
09:14
and your divisional leaders will be coming to you over the coming days
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to have more of an in-depth look at how your division, your work, your contributions as an individual
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and as a unit will help us move forward as a university.
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And what are the outcomes that we desire from this strategic plan?
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You’ve heard me say it before. Growth and excellence.
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And growth is not just about enrollment
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growth of a public university is about its sophistication and complexity, its intricacy,
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and the advancement of its sense of purpose.
09:57
Mediocrity is easy.
10:00
We don’t have to wake up early or stay up late to be mediocre.
10:05
It’s important for us to have higher expectations for ourselves all the time,
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every moment of time that we invest, every dollar spent, every action taken has to feed into higher expectations of the end user.
10:22
Their choosing us is what makes us first choice in the marketplace.
10:30
We want to make certain that
10:32
a prospective student for the University of West Georgia
10:35
is as excited to make this university a part of who they are
10:39
as alumni who graduated decades ago and get to carry that sense of pride.
10:46
This process has been an intense one.
10:50
It’s been one that’s new for the University of West Georgia.
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But I don’t think that bringing the University of West Georgia together
10:59
around shaping the future of the institution is new.
11:03
There is a collectiveness to be harnessed here,
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and I believe that this process of becoming for this institution has helped to mark that.
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I am grateful for the intense work of the strategic planning steering team bringing so many people together.
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I am grateful for the thoughtful and intentional effort in discussion, debate, and collaboration that so many put into developing
11:33
priorities and objectives that we all get to invest ourselves into moving forward.
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I’m grateful to be a part of the University of West Georgia and having the opportunity to chart what comes next.
11:47
(Music fades back in)

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