Strategic Planning in Transition Periods
Valerie Osland Paton
Vice Provost, Planning and Assessment and Director of Strategic Planning
Years ago I was driving down the street when I saw an inscription on the façade of a building. I was so struck by the words that I stopped my car and wrote them down: “A long pull, a hard pull, a pull together.” I hadn’t thought much about this quote until last year when Texas Tech University was challenged to “pull together” to accomplish its vision and strategic plan. In the intervening time the faculty, staff and students of this great university demonstrated that they could bring together their collective commitment, intellect and resources to move the institution forward toward its vision and goals. This paper provides details of these latest efforts along with some antecedent activities.
In 2005 Texas Tech University adopted a Strategic Plan that has guided its work and provided the context for a period of major transition. During the period from 2005 through spring 2009 there have been many accomplishments:
- Graduate student enrollment increased to 19% of total enrollment
- Student ethnic diversity increased (Hispanic – 11.2%, African American – 23.1%, International – 13.1%)
- Distributed student enrollment increased by 17.4% (i.e., off – campus and online courses)
- Undergraduate graduation rates increased (4 – Yr. from 29% to 37%; 5-Yr. from 50% to 54%)
- Tenure and tenure-track faculty members increased by 5.1%
- The number of doctoral degrees awarded annually increased 25% from 176 to 221
- The total endowment increased more than 20%
- The number of Texas Tech students studying abroad increased by almost 20%
- Academic programs in the Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering were commended by nationally ranking organizations
Of all these achievements, the most striking is the following: from FY 05 to FY 08, Texas Tech University awarded 24,256 degrees, the most for any four-year period in the history of the institution. As we consider the scale of these accomplishments, we can envision how important our contribution is to the future of the State of Texas and the world.
The above glimpse of the last four years sets the stage for our transition to a new strategic planning process and plan. In the fall, President Bailey introduced a new vision for Texas Tech to become the next national research university in the state of Texas. In response to his leadership and vision, the Strategic Planning Council began working in November to adapt the existing Strategic Plan, and the resulting revision was approved by the President in February 2009 (http://www.ttu.edu/stratplan/08stratplanrevision.pdf).
The current plan resulted from a busy year in which the Strategic Planning Council addressed the following issues:
- An evaluation of progress on the 2005 Strategic Plan goals and benchmarks
- Addition of national research university benchmarks into the current Strategic Plan
- Revision of the 2005 Strategic Plan and generation of a 2008 plan (as cited above)
- Collaboration with the Texas Tech University System to develop System goals and key performance indicators and align these with the Texas Tech Strategic Plan
- Crafting of a process that will engage Texas Tech’s faculty, staff and student in the creation of a new Strategic Plan
To accomplish its work, the Strategic Planning Council in January 2009 was expanded to include the members of the Texas Tech community who had experience in setting goals, strategies and key performance indicators. The expanded Council membership is listed on the Strategic Planning website.
As the year has progressed, there have been several discussions about the new vision of national research status for Texas Tech. For example, at their March 5th Strategic Planning Retreat, members of the Texas Tech System Board of Regents asked for clarification of the term “national research university.” In response, the following criteria were provided:
- a high level of externally funded research
- nationally recognized academic programs and faculty members
- an extensive number of graduate programs and doctoral degrees awarded annually
- highly qualified and accomplished undergraduate and graduate students
As we move forward, it will be important to refine our ideas about national research universities. In this regard, there are several organizations that contribute to the affirmation of national research university status, including but not limited to the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, more information about the criteria and characteristics of national research universities was sought by the Strategic Planning Council through the Center for Measuring University Performance (CMUP), which produces an annual report entitled, The Top American Research Universities (for the 2008 report, see http://mup.asu.edu/research2008.pdf ). As a matter of record, the CMUP uses nine measures to generate their ranking of American national research universities. These measures (and sources of information) are:
- Total Research Expenditures (National Science Foundation/Division of Sciences Resources Statistics Survey [NSF/SRS] of Research & Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges)
- Federal Research Expenditures (NSF/SRS Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges)
- Endowment Assets (National Association of College and University Business Officers Endowment Study [NACUBO])
- Annual Giving (Council for Aid to Education’s Voluntary Support of Education [CASE] Survey)
- National Academy Members (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine membership directories)
- Faculty Awards in the Arts, Humanities, Science, Engineering, and Health (including Fulbright, Getty, Guggenheim, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Mellon, National Humanities Center, NSF, Pew, Sloan, and Woodrow Wilson awards to name a few)
- Doctorates Granted (National Center for Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System [IPEDS] Completions Survey)
- Postdoctoral Appointees (NSF/SRS Survey of Graduate Students and Post-doctorates in Science and Engineering)
- SAT/ACT range (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES] IPEDS Survey)
During 2008 – 09, the Strategic Planning Council has reinforced its understanding of the criteria for national research university status. At its April 2009 meeting the Council will focus on developing a 2009 – 2010 planning process that will include many members of the Texas Tech community and will focus on new goals, strategies, key performance indicators, and resource requirements. We will also begin to examine a group of public institutions that have been recognized as national research universities by the AAU, Carnegie Foundation, and Center for Measuring University Performance. From this examination we hope to glean the essential elements for Texas Tech’s transcendence to national research university status.
The reconsideration and transition of Texas Tech’s strategic plan is a healthy process that is an important component to institutional success. I anticipate a process for 2009 – 2010 that will foster input from faculty, staff, and students and move Texas Tech toward the vision of becoming the next national research university in the state of Texas. As we look forward, we can see a great expanse of opportunity for Texas Tech and its capacity to serve the state of Texas, nation and world. As we look back over the past, we realize how the hard work – our “pull together – has helped us achieve significant accomplishments. Our successes have been won by individual as well as interdependent efforts. With these thoughts in mind, I want to recognize the members of the Strategic Planning Council for their reflective and responsive support during this time of transition. They will be important representatives to the campus community as we begin the next strategic planning cycle.
As you consider all our planning processes, I encourage you to contact members or the Strategic Planning Council in order to provide your input; their names and contact information can be found at http://www.ttu.edu/stratplan/StrategicPlanningCouncil.php.