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Strategic Planning in Transition Periods

April 2009

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.